Autism is an endless mystery, largely unknowable by its nature, yet there are dozens of books by or about autistic people determined to explain the lives of those affected. The newest is “The Reason I Jump,” popular in Japan since it was published in 2007. The author, Naoki Higashida, was 13 years old at the time he wrote the memoir, and nonverbal. He wrote by spelling out words on a Japanese alphabet letter board.
The slim volume consists of short chapters beginning with questions like “Why do you speak in that peculiar way?” and “Why do you like spinning?” Describing why, exactly, he likes to jump, Higashida tells us: “The motion makes me want to change into a bird and fly off to some faraway place. But constrained by ourselves and by the people around us, all we can do is tweet-tweet, flap our wings and hop around in a cage.”
Higashida is bright and thoughtful. He maintains a blog and has written other books. His American publisher describes Higashida, who can also type on a computer and is able to read aloud what he has written, as a “motivational speaker.” As the parent of an autistic adult, I know autism has hidden depths, but they are hidden under real impairment. The author tells us that he gets lost and panics. He can’t remember rules, sit still or make sense of time. Continue reading NYT: Voice of the Voiceless ‘The Reason I Jump,’ by Naoki Higashida