The Reason I Jump Book Review
The Reason I Jump is written by the thirteen-year-old, severely autistic Japanese teenager, Naoki Higashida, in which he provides a fascinating and engaging insight into the highly misunderstood disability of autism. Diagnosed with ‘autistic tendencies’ himself, and alongside his award-winning talent for writing, Higashida may be regarded as the indisputable candidate to shed light on why those (such as himself) with autism do the things that they do.
From reading the very first page of this book, I knew it was going to be something special; and a book in which I will gain more understanding and knowledge on a subject I have never given much attention: autism. In the UK, around 700,000 people have autism; and it is the relationships with others in particular where problems may occur as those with autism have difficulty with social communication, integration and imagination. Unfortunately, due to the myths created about autism, stereotypes develop creating a greater divide and misunderstanding between those with and without autism.
This is why The Reason I Jump is such an important book as it brings us one step closer to busting the myths and misconceptions of autism in a very intelligent way. Through the question-and-answer format in which this book is presented, Naoki Higashida answers various questions in an honest and personal way, yet also speaking on behalf of other autistic persons. Questions such as ‘why don’t you do what you’re told to do straight away?’ and ‘what’s the worst thing about having autism?’ amongst others are asked to the author; questions that really get into the mindset of an autistic individual. In order to answer these questions, Higashida makes use of an alphabet grid. With this grid, he is able to create letters, words and sentences; resulting in a very time-consuming process. This grid, however, presents itself as a god-send to both Higashida and the parents and family members of an autistic child who never would have believed it possible to have their loved one’s thoughts and feelings revealed.
It is very striking how articulate Higashida is for a thirteen-year-old boy. Certainly, he has a beautiful way with words and describes his autism in an understandable way without use of any fancy terminology in this memoir of his. It is a book that makes you think about twice about those who are perceived as ‘different’ whilst simultaneously makes you realise that despite the various ways we communicate to others and interpret the world in which we live, we are very much similar underneath.
Words by: Natasha Ayres