The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida

A beautiful book about autism

Posted by on February 16, 2018

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This is the first of what will hopefully become a frequent occurence, where I review a book that I have read.

I am going to try and write a bit about every book I read in 2018, however I am already playing catch up as I finished reading the reason I jump on the January 3rd.

The reason I jump was a Christmas gift, and a particularly poignant one at that. Combining my love of the work of David Mitchell (who translated this work along with Keiko Yoshida) and my interest in autism (that grew out of my sister’s diagnosis a few years ago).

It is a pretty short easy read (not emotionally but technically) at only 135 pages with a large amount of white space that comes naturally from the question and answer style. These questions are those that Naoki has considered to be common and pertinent to the nature of his autism.

It is important to note (and it noted by the author) that no two people present autism in the same way, and while some of the rational may be the case for Naoki it may not be so for others (e.g. Naoki does not like human contact, finding it awkward however my sibling is one of the cuddly-ist people I know).

One of the most mind-opening descriptions came from Naoki’s early discussions of autism as a form of hyper-sensitivity (an idea I had never considered). This really helped in my understanding of how my sister reacts to the world and has been in the front of my mind each time I interact with her; making the most to be considerate of this fact.

There has been a bit of controversy about the authoring of the book (and insinuations that facilitated communication was used to help Naoki write). However, having read some interviews with Mitchell and Yoshida, as well as comments from Temple Grandin I am happy to accept the work to be truely that of Naoki.

The last part to comment on is the short story at the end of the book, I’m right here. this story is, as Naoki says, to help others understand the pain of not being to express yourself. I truely hope that my sister does not feel the locked in sensation that Naoki appears to suffer from, else I hope she finds a way to communicate those emotions.