Author(s): Naoki Higashida with Introduction by David Mitchell
APA Style Citation
Higashida, N., & Yoshida, K. A. (2013). The reason I jump the inner voice of a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. New York: Random House.
The Reason I Jump is written by Naoki Higashida a thirteen- year-old boy living with autism. The book is a series of questions to which Naoki responds with the intent of helping people better understand what happens in the mind of an autistic child. While some of the information may be particular to Naoki (given that Autism is a spectrum disorder, the recommendations may not apply to all Autistic individuals), many of his comments can help readers’ better understand all people with autism. Naoki describes his daily struggles and coping mechanisms for living with autism. Naoki explains that he often does not have control over his voluntary movements or what comes out of his mouth. He knows what he wants to do or what he wants to say but very often something different happens over which he has no control. He is extremely disappointed when others are upset with him because he does not want to let anyone down but often cannot help the way he acts. Naoki says he does not make eye contact when others are talking not because he is not listening, rather because he is trying to listen to what the person is saying and focusing all of his concentration on their words. If Naoki looks at people’s faces, he will get distracted but many people think this is impolite. He does not like holding hands because he often sees something that interests him and wants “to dash off”. Naoki describes his experiences and memories as primarily visual and not occurring in a sequential order like most others. It may take him longer to retrieve certain memories or they may be related to seemingly unrelated memories because of how they are stored. Often those with Autism respond aggressively when a memory triggers another memory of a time they had a bad experience. Naoki takes longer than most to respond to a request because he must think about what he is going to do, visualize how he is going to do it and encourage himself to get going. He states that he does not want to live without Autism because this is the world he knows and how he has learned to live. To address the title of the book, Naoki describes that he jumps when he is very excited and he jumps to try to touch the sky, he says he loves this feeling and wants it to continue but that others often are “put off” by this behavior. Naoki describes that his sense of balance and where his body is in space is sometimes disorienting, as a result, he often needs others to help him move his body. He explains that it is difficult to dress because some clothing is uncomfortable and he hates to be too hot or too cold so he often dresses in layers but then forgets that he can take something off when he gets too hot. Naoki describes that time often seems to go very fast or very slow, and that he does not have any sense of time. He explains that he flaps his fingers in front of his face because he wants to distort the light coming in and too much light makes him uncomfortable ‘like needles”, he can do this for hours but finds it enjoyable because it is like making art with the light. Even though Naoki is thirteen, he still prefers children’s shows because he enjoys repetition and familiar faces. If your are interested in learning more about Autism and would like to hear directly from one who can describe their on experiences you are sure to find Naoki enchanting.
Other Related Resources
5 Questions with David Mitchell the translator for The Reason I Jump
Ten things that every child with Autism wish you knew
Psychological Figures and Concepts