Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Reason I Jump: one Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism

Just lately, I have been asked by a number of people about some of the things that O and L do - from their stimming, to the way L speaks at times, meltdowns, why don't they like loud noises and so on.

It makes me extremely happy that people feel that they can approach me to ask these questions, it shows that are willing to learn and are wanting take on new information. It means that my children and others with Autism will benefit as more people will be aware of what being on the spectrum means.

Earlier this year, I found a fantastic book called "The Reason I Jump." I stumbled across it quite by accident when I was searching for something else for work. It looked interesting so I purchased it. I eagerly awaited it's arrival and then could not put it down once I started reading it. The book opened up my eyes to some of the things that my children do, I began to have a deeper understanding of their stimming, echolia, meltdowns, their sensitivity to noise and crowds.

"The Reason I Jump" is written by Naoki Higashida, a Japanese boy who has Autism. He wrote the book when he was only thirteen and the book provides the reader with a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of children and adults who have Autism. 

Naoki was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5. He is non-verbal and communicates through an alphabet grid. He points to letters, numbers, punctuation and other symbols around the grip to form words which his aide then transcribes. He can also express himself through the use of a computer and keyboard but prefers the alphabet grid.

Naoki has written the book in a question and answer format answering questions such as "Why are you too sensitive or insensitive to pain," "Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking," "Why do you echo questions back at the asker,""Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks," "Why are you so picky about what you eat" and so on.

Naoki answers all the questions from his point of view and also talks about the way he thinks and feels about his world - other people, nature, time and beauty and himself. Through his words, Naoki shows that people with Autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy and he makes it clear how badly people with Autism need our compassion, patience and understanding.

The book is introduced by David Mitchell. His wife ordered the book from Japan, in the hope that it would assist them to understand the behaviour of their non-verbal Autistic son. They then translated the book, with Naoki's permisson, in the hope that Naoki's book might help others dealing with Autism and generally illuminate the then little-understood condition.

It is a brilliant book, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a child, relative, friend or co-worker who is on the spectrum. Definitely worth a read!

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