The spectrum of mental disorders is vast and growing. New disorders are being diagnosed with such regularity it’s hard to keep up. For those not struggling it may feel impossible to understand exactly what it’s like to have any of these psychological difficulties, and unfortunately there are far too many people who don’t see them as a real problem. My wife and I both have anxiety and depression. Sometimes it feels like a battle to get people to understand that “getting over it” is harder than making a decision to be happy. There are many whose lives are made so much harder by things such as ADHD, autism, and down syndrome. For teachers and parents it would be a dream to figure out exactly what these people are going through in order to help them.
The Reason I Jump is written by a thirteen-year-old boy with autism, and this is his message to the world.
Written in a question answer style, Naoki Higashida addresses a variety of questions about what it’s like to have autism. His youthful voice is honest and to the point, providing a unique insight into the mind of an autistic teenager who still has one foot in childhood and can remember and describe what it’s like to grow up when you can’t communicate with anyone. Using an alphabet grid he can construct words, sentences, and ideas, which allow him to communicate in the only way he can with a world that’s struggling to understand those with mental disorders.
I don’t know what to say about this book. It was beautifully written, and for those people who wrote negative reviews, yes it was probably touched up and made to sound a bit more fluid in the translation. Every book is. That’s part of the editing process. This is not a guide to how all autistic children think. This is not a how to book or a guidebook. This is a reference book of one child’s experiences and insights with some points that may help some children.
So who should read this book? My first thought was that everyone who lives with/works with someone who has autism should read this book, but let’s be honest: everyone should read this book. At some point in our lives we will meet or interact with someone who struggles with this particular mental disorder. We should be reading more books that compel us to be more compassionate and understanding of others. Take a minute out of your busy day. You may not be a regular nonfiction reader, but Naoki has a story to be shared and it deserves to be heard.