The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen – Year- Old Boy with Autism, written by Naoki Higashida, is one of the hottest selling books on autism. My step-daughter, Sarah, presented this book to me for Christmas and anxious to read it I did so cover to cover in one sitting. I immersed myself in his words and was ready to let this young author educate me about his autism and hopefully teach me something new. It only took a few hours to read, and I moved through it quickly.
What struck me first was the author’s voice – as a young teenager. My mind automatically revisited those teenage years for my own autistic son, Matt. I noted Naoki and Matt had similarities in their difficulty in communication – both had to find alternative ways to communicate other than speech.
I couldn’t help but also compare each of Naoki’s answers to what I knew of my own son’s teenage life. Lastly, I compared Matt’s and Naoki’s adolescent years to how Matt is now, as an adult man closing in on 30 years and just how different life is for the mature autistic individual.
Unfortunately, most of Naoki’s answers were not enlightening for me. As the parent of a moderate / severe and mostly non-verbal adult son it did not hold any new answers, so I must confess disappointment – not for what Naoki revealed about his behaviors, but because I already knew those answers for Matt. I simply wanted something more.
Then it occurred to me that there was something more to this book . . . .
Naoki’s words did reveal something to me that was completely unexpected – under all those explanations for behavior the young author demonstrates the importance of finding a way to communicate, especially when speech is not possible. Many parents and professionals may be enlightened and fascinated by the reasons why he acts and speaks the way he does, the best part of the book for me was in the revelation that the author could reveal his true self as a unique individual on the spectrum – as a non-verbal child relieved to finally have his “voice” and thankful to communicate thoughts and dreams.
So while The Reason I Jump is an excellent resource for parents, for advancing autism awareness and for shedding a more focused light on the reasons behind some of the varied behaviors seen in autism, it is so much more than that. For parents of younger children through adolescence it’s definitely worth reading and keeping on hand as a reference guide, (but only as a reference as each child is different).
But what I hope to encourage is for the reader to feel the real power behind his words – because he has them, his mother found a way to give her son a voice. Naoki now has his “voice” in the form of the written word.
So while the answers you seek may be revealed in Naoki’s explanations, I recommend it just as strongly for its inspirational message. This book is a wonderful testament to what can be unveiled if the communication difficulties are alleviated to allow personality, emotion, curiosity, thoughts and desires to be revealed.
Under those curious behaviors of autism there lies a completely unique and wonderful human being, and that is something everyone should be made aware of.
Autism Daily Newscast first wrote about The Reason I Jump here.
Liz Becker, the author of Autism and the World According to Matt: A collection of 50 inspirational short stories on raising a moderate / severe mostly non-verbal autistic child from diagnosis to independence has been an autism-awareness advocate for over 26 years. Her website, “World According to Matt”, a Top 30 Autism Blog for Parents (Babble, 2012), reaches 82 countries with over 4 million Facebook “Likes”.
She has been a guest on Hour of Joy, Autism-Live, and Everyday Autism Miracles. Loz is also an Author-At-Large for the Autism Support Network, a Guest Speaker to parent support groups across the country and a consistently featured speaker for various college programs and community outreach programs.