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May 2014 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review: 'The Reason I Jump' by Naoki Higashida

'The Reason I Jump' by Naoki Higashida is reviewed this week by PCI College Lecturer Jade Mullen

'The Reason I Jump’ provides a narrative into the world of a person with autism, written by a 13 year old, autistic, Japanese boy and translated into English by David Mitchell. Higashida answers questions throughout the book, providing a rare glimpse into the internal experience of an autistic person.

As David Mitchell states in the introduction, the three characters that make up the word autism in Japanese are ‘self’, ‘shut’ and ‘illness’. In his own words, Higashida talks us through how it feels to be disconnected with self, shut out from the world and gives this ‘illness’ a voice.

Written in a philosophical style, older than his 13 years, Higashida describes the way in which he perceives the world. When communicated in this elegant and simplistic way, we can draw upon the similarities, and indeed differences, of the autistic and non-autistic thinker. The autistic person is quite often perceived as engaging in ‘odd’ behaviours, in reading this book we can now understand these behaviours in terms of coping mechanisms which are employed to foster a feeling of safety and security, just as our own would be.
When explaining the process Higashida goes through when engaging in conversation, he describes it as so:
“I imagine a normal person’s memory is arranged continuously, like a line. My memory, however, is more like a pool of dots. I’m always ‘picking up’ these dots – by asking questions – so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent.”

This reminds me of the integration of the client’s story that we hold and engage in during the therapy process – a task that requires much attention and concentration.

Higashida writes openly about the difficulties in being misunderstood, judged, isolated and feeling shameful. The message that permeates through the writing is “Don’t give up on us”. His view on how emotions trigger many of the abnormal reactions is enlightening, yet so familiar.

In his story, Higashida’s positivity shines through. Through his words we can know that the world of an autistic person is a blessing and that simplicity holds comfort.  

This book is an excellent interpretation of the autistic self for non-autistic eyes. “Everybody has a heart that can be touched”

Jade Mullen, PCI College Lecturer
(May 2014)

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