The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
By Naoki Higashida
Synopsis: A memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds – through questions and answers. Parents and family members at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Review by Elisabeth Graham
The first thing that struck me when reading the book cover was that our son, Zach – who also has autism – was born the same year as Naoki. The fact that he had graduated high school and wasn’t diagnosed until age five told me Naoki’s experiences would not mirror our son’s. Obviously higher functioning, despite the struggle to communicate, I began to read Naoki’s musings with half-hearted interest. It took until about the 15th question – there are 58 in the book- for me to stop and retrieve a highlighter. Just maybe there were some thoughts worth capturing.
My husband picked up the book where I had left it on a side table. He started skimming through it and then settled on David Mitchell’s introduction. He wept. For him the power of the book was reading a fellow father’s honest portrayal of parenting a special needs child. For us as a couple it was a conversation starter. A good one. Zach, like Naoki, is 23 now. It was good to be reminded that autism transcends continents and time zones and that we are not alone on this journey.
My favourite line in the book is, “… we may look like we’re not with anyone, but we’re always in the company of friends (Page 60).” Strangely that line brings me great comfort and I can’t help but smile thinking of Zach’s love of everything Disney and the constant flow of movie lines that have filled our home for over 20 years. That line alone made the book worthwhile for me.
Naoki calls himself and others with autism stoic heroes. For both my husband and I we couldn’t wait to give Zach a kiss and a hug along with the gentle whispered reminder … “you truly are our hero.”
Elisabeth Graham is the Executive Director of Heartland Forest Nature Experience in Niagara Falls, a unique natural attraction with a passion for accessibility, active living and environmental stewardship. Since its inception, Heartland Forest has nurtured an environment where children, youth and adults of all abilities have grown and built lifelong connections with nature through dynamic programs. From the accessible woodworking shop to the inclusive summer adventure camps, Active Adults and Eco Kids Club, Heartland inspires and enriches the lives of all people.