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The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

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Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one, at last, have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

135 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Naoki Higashida

25 books262 followers
Naoki Higashida (東田 直樹 Higashida Naoki) is the Japanese author of The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism. He was born in 1992 and diagnosed with autism when he was five. He was 13 years old when he wrote the book which was published in English in 2013. Reviews have been mixed, both celebrating the accomplishment of a mentally and emotionally challenged young author and expressing discomfort with the involvement of Higashida's communications facilitator (his mother) and English language translators (Keiko Yoshida and her husband David Mitchell).

Source: Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,192 reviews
Profile Image for Storm.
23 reviews36 followers
July 15, 2013
(Note: I have autism)

I have to admit, I was on the verge of crying at some parts

because this book is everything I've wanted to tell the world but didn't know how

it made me understand myself a bit better, because like the author, I am not always sure why I do the things I do

It is one of those books I want as many as people as possible to read, to try and understand people with autism a bit better, and get rid of misconceptions.
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,668 reviews6,662 followers
August 3, 2023
This is a great book to be written by someone of any age, and the fact that it is written by a 13 year old is amazing. The book reads like a FAQ of questions that anybody, especially a parent of children with Autism or Asperger Syndrome, have asked/shouted at their children about why they keep doing certain things. I bought this book after a particularly heated argument with my 8 year old. this book did help, and at the very least, it told me that many of the things I questions e.g. "Why do you keep doing the same thing after I have told you a million times not to?". Yes, all kids do this, but it is Autistic and AS children seem to take it to another level. In between questions, we are threatened to a couple of short stories written by Naoki. these are great, and remember, the boy was only 13 when he wrote this book. It shows that creative writing is definitely Naoki's outlet and wrenches at my heart that such a creative and intelligent boy has so much problem communicating verbally or in person.

Two thing to remember about this book. Everyone with Autism or AS is different, but they do share many traits, so as insightful as Naoki's views are for himself, he might now apply to all children/people. However, it does offer a first-hand perspective, which is otherwise unheard of. the other is the message/theme that Naoki is trying to get across. "DON'T GIVE UP ON US." Yes they might keep doing the same thing when they are told not to, but you still have to keep telling them not to till maybe on the ten million and one time it might get through to the child then they know it for life. As Naoki points out, they might not look like it, but they are learning slowly, but surely they are. This book is a great insight into a great and creative mind that has been trapped inside a body with fewer outlets then are available to the rest of us, however with patience and understand many other children could be allowed to find their own outlet and unleash their ideas on the world.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,720 followers
October 23, 2013
This is the most illuminating insight into the mind of an autistic child that I've seen. Naoki Higashida was born in 1992 and was diagnosed with autism when he was 5. One of his teachers designed an alphabet grid to help Naoki communicate his thoughts, which were then printed into a book in Japan in 2007.

The writer David Mitchell, who has an autistic son, found it and pushed to get an English translation published. In the introduction, Mitchell wrote that the book was "a revelatory godsend. Reading it felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us about what was happening inside his head, through Naoki's words."

The book is structured in short sections, with Naoki responding to questions about common behaviors of autistic people. When asked why he repeats what others are saying, Naoki explains how difficult it is for an autistic person to communicate:

"It's quite a complicated process. First, I scan my memory to find an experience closest to what's happening now. When I've found a good close match, my next step is to try to recall what I said at that time. If I'm lucky, I hit upon a usable experience and all is well. If I'm not lucky, I get clobbered by the same sinking feeling I had originally, and I'm unable to answer the question being asked. No matter how hard I try to stop it, that weird voice slips out, making me more flustered and discouraged, and so it gets harder and harder to say anything ... I swear conversation is such hard work! To make myself understood, it's like I have to speak in an unknown foreign language, every minute of every day."

Naoki justifies why autistic people often avoid looking people in the eye when they're talking. "To me, making eye contact with someone I'm talking to feels a bit creepy, so I tend to avoid it ... You might well suppose that we're just looking down, or at the general background. But you'd be wrong. What we're actually looking at is the other person's voice. Voices may not be visible things, but we're trying to listen to the other person with all of our sense organs. When we're fully focused on working out what the heck it is you're saying, our sense of sight sort of zones out ... What's bothered me for a long time is this idea people have that so long as we're keeping eye contact while they're talking to us, that alone means we're taking in every word. Ha! If only that was all it took, my disability would have been cured a long, long time ago."

He also explains why it is that autistic people often find themselves alone, and then everyone assumes that they'd prefer being alone and don't like being around people. Naoki says that isn't true, but being isolated is often a consequence of autism. "I can't believe that anyone born as a human being really wants to be left all on their own, not really. No, for people with autism, what we're anxious about is that we're causing trouble for the rest of you, or even getting on your nerves. This is why it's hard for us to stay around other people. This is why we often end up being left on our own."

There are a lot more questions and answers with Naoki, and he also shares a few short stories he wrote. My biggest takeaways from this book are that autistic people are much more empathetic than the literature shows, and how hard they are working to try and control their bodies and their thoughts. "You can't always tell just by looking at people with autism, but we never really feel that our bodies are our own. They're always acting up and going outside our control. Stuck inside them, we're struggling so hard to make them do what we tell them."

It is telling that as soon as David Mitchell started doing publicity for this book (I saw him interviewed on "The Daily Show" and Jon Stewart raved about Naoki's insights) that "The Reason I Jump" became an instant bestseller. Autism has affected so many families around the world, and many people are trying to understand it better. I think this book will help light the way.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who works with autistic people or who has a loved one who is on the spectrum.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
January 23, 2023
Update Why have I gone back to his review after 9 years? Because the reviews are as much for me as GR. On Friday my best friend's little boy was involved in a presentation of Make a Wish. He had been the recipient of a Minions's room during Covid. The man on the stage, from the Foundation, was an insensitive hogger-of-the-limelight who didn't notice the 10 year old standing right next to him, waving his hands in the air, making noises, stamping around, getting more and more upset and out of control, all the while his mother trying to calm him. Every time it was time for the presentation to go ahead, he would say, 'this reminds me of a little story' or ' in closing I would just like to tell ...'.

My friend's little boy is pre-verbal (as his school prefers to non-verbal), as the subject of the book, not toilet-trained, can use a computer to find what he wants but not to communicate, he is so obviously no more normal on the inside than the outside although he definitely understands most of what is said to him. Whether he complies or not - if it is to do with food, going to the beach or a bouncy castle he probably will anything else, sometimes. This is not to say he is not a valuable and loveable person (he is) but he requires the presence of a carer 24 hours a day.

The author of this book whether it was really the son or the father as I suspect is arrogant in using the word 'we' and continually throughout the book, assuring as that all non-verbal autistic children are just like him. If only my friend's little boy was she would have genuine hope for his future. But in reality, there is only a mother's love and hope one day he might be toilet-trained and show some desire to communicate. When this book came out I gave this to my friend, and gave her false hope and I'm sorry now. 22 Jan 2023

Idiot savant author or has Dad had a hand in this?

What to say about this book? It feels like half of it is the genuine thoughts and explanations for autism by an unusually intelligent child who suffers from severe autism. The other half feels like the father's padding and interpretations.

The child presents himself as weird on the outside but quite normal on the inside and longing to be able to change the weirdness to normality and be accepted as just an ordinary individual, and gives some reasons for his weirdness, like why he jumps. There are two explanations for this. Either autism is a personality disorder that like all personalities is quite different from individual to individual - not even identical twins share a personality, or all autistic individuals suffer from a variety of locked-in syndrome.

Locked-in syndrome, best illustrated by the short memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death is where a person has suffered a catastrophic accident either from external sources or from internal, such as a stroke. They have no physical control, or only minimal but are quite normal inside their heads. So maybe autism is like that. Maybe they just can't break through.

There is some back up to me thinking that. There are memoirs and stories that are typed out by people with autism who cannot speak or even use sign language but are highly literate on a computer. But then there are those who seem to live in another world and scarcely interact with ours despite all efforts to reach them.

I do think we will know one day, just not now. And although the book is a help, it also mystifies this disorder even more, at least for me.

Finished Jan 1st, 2014
Profile Image for Mindy.
46 reviews5 followers
January 13, 2016
I would be skeptical that this book was written by any 13 year-old, with or without autism. I'm putting it on my shelf next to "Three Cups of Tea" and "A Million Little Pieces."

This is the longer review I wrote on Amazon.com.

This is a good review...


And here are some quotes...

"It is undoubtedly reassuring for parents of children with autism to discover in Higashida’s account a boy who not only sympathises with their difficulties, but also shares many of the familiar views of middle-aged, middle-class readers in Western society"

"It is when Higashida turns to the wider significance of autism that the moralising sentimentality of this book becomes fully apparent. Higashida observes that ‘I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilisation’. The message from the voice behind the alphabet board is that ‘as a result of all the killings in the world and selfish planet-wrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists’. Higashida claims that people with autism are ‘like travellers from the distant, distant past’ who have come ‘to help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth’."

"I believe that my son enjoys swimming pools because he likes water, not because, in the fanciful speculations of Higashida, he is yearning for a ‘distant, distant watery past’ and that he wants to return to a ‘primeval era’ in which ‘aquatic lifeforms came into being and evolved’."

"I fear that the translation and endorsement of this book reinforces more myths than it challenges. Like Mitchell, like other parents, I have spent much time pondering what is going on in the mind of my autistic son. But I have come around to agreeing with the pioneering Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger that ‘the autist is only himself’ - there is nobody trapped inside, no time traveller offering redemption to humanity."
Profile Image for pokupine.
117 reviews12 followers
September 3, 2016
I find it hard to believe most of this book.

First, as a speech therapist, I am puzzled as to why Naoki can read aloud but have such severe difficulties speaking to people despite having such well-developed language and great insight into his difficulties. He seems to have it all figured out and yet, being just one step away from making changes to his communication style, he settled into using an alphabet board (not the most efficient way of communication for someone who has obviously a lot to say).

Secondly, Naoki appears to employ the theory of mind too well for a 13 year old who is "severely autistic" as most reviews have made him out to be. He has too keen an understanding of how normal people think differently from "people with autism", so far as to make statements such as "one of the biggest misunderstandings you have about us..."

Then, there is the "us". Even as David Mitchell starts the book by letting the readers know, rightly, that "every autistic person exhibits his or her own variation of the condition", there is SUCH overgeneralisation throughout the book about "people with autism".

Beyond that, every answer is so greatly romanticised, with abstract ideas attached to sensory behaviour (Enjoy being in water -> "We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed.") and social communication difficulties (Lack of eye contact -> "What we are actually looking at is the other person's voice")... These answers sound much more like what we, as clinicians and parents, hope to hear from the autistic children we take care of. At the same time, these answers seem to trivialise the very real and disabling problems autistic children have.

I found myself getting more and more annoyed as I went through the book. It seems to have been written with the intention to influence people a certain way the author/translators have decided. It is certainly not a good representation of most autistic children despite its abundant use of collective terms. And there is truly a lot of bullshit... whether that stemmed from Naoki himself or from the multiple rounds of transcription and translation.

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
October 4, 2021
My son Sammy is 17 (now updating a bit as he is now 25). He has autism, the severe variety. He'll never be completely independent. The way we experienced it, he was verbal and functional in most three -year-old ways, and now we see him as very damaged. Maybe this is wrong, but the sudden loss of language and functionality in other ways is not something we celebrated. He's happy, much of the time, though he also screams, is self-injurious at times, much of the time, too. He has a sweet disposition, but we mostly don't know what he is thinking and feeling. He makes noise, but he doesn't speak. He communicates through his Ipad's touch screen passably okay at times, and he can find videos and music he likes there, and through pointing. He talked at age level expectations until about age 3 and then over the next few years gradually lost all his ability to communicate audibly through words.

I was interested in this book because it purported to share the views of a Japanese boy without (or with little) speech, who was now able to communicate what he was feeling and thinking. I was skeptical because I have lived through other such "assisted communication" systems such as the one Naoki has reportedly benefitted from, all of them discredited, as we discover well-meaning people, parents and teachers and other caregivers all helping, ala Ouija board, maybe, to speak with or for the child. I want to believe each and every story, because I want to know what Sammy is feeling and thinking, and I so want to talk with him, so I am susceptible to cure advertisements.

So am I just a cynical bastard, when I say I doubt Naoki is having this level of insight and creating all these sentences all by himself? Naoki, or whoever is writing, generalizes like crazy about "we" kids with autism, and how "we" are feeling. . . is it possible he really thinks his experience is largely universal? I know it is not, since I have worked with kids with autism my whole life and I know not all people with autism are alike, or have the same needs. Impossible to generalize about, though many people in the autism community think that all people with autism must be validated for their differences regardless of their functionality. So a kid with autism, Naoki, ought to know this, but he does not, spinning out book after book. The set up is q and a, where he answers FAQ for all kids with autism. It made me anxious, and sad, not relieved and moved. Somebody convince me I am wrong but I am not believing. I will read other reviews, but even the intro writers and translators are not convincing to me, and they know the territory… Unh!
Profile Image for Sarah Coleman.
72 reviews8 followers
October 25, 2013
I'd read some of the pro- and anti- reviews of this book by an autistic 13-year-old Japanese boy before I sat down to read it, so I had some context of the surrounding controversy before I jumped in (so to speak). Basically, some people have criticized novelist David Mitchell for possibly embellishing some of the author's writing (he has said he “provided the stylistic icing on the cake” of the translation), and others have noted that author Higashida claims to speak for all autistic people but is clearly not representative of them. I think the latter criticism has more merit. It did stick out to me that Higashida, clearly gifted in perception and sensitivity, constantly uses "we" and "our," claiming that all autistic people feel the way he does. This seems much too generalizing. Not all neurotypical people are gifted novelists like David Mitchell; by the same token, not all autistic people are as eloquent as Higashida, and many may not have access to the kind of perception he shows here. That said, there are some intriguing nuggets. I was perhaps most surprised by the author's sense of shame at the way his odd behavior impacts his loved ones. Even neurotypical 13-year-old boys aren't overloaded with empathy, and it surely turns our preconceptions on their heads to learn that an autistic child is so obviously empathic. I think this book--which is different from memoirs by parents of autistic children or adult Aspies--will help a lot of parents empathize with their autistic children, and that can only be good.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
943 reviews14k followers
April 12, 2017
3.5 stars

This book was intriguing! I'm taking it with a grain of salt, though, because I've been monitoring reviews about it. First I'll talk about my thoughts, though, then address concerns. I thought this book was wonderful. The writing was lovely with a lot of insightful analogies and heartwarming metaphors. I thought the question and answer format with fictional works inserted in between was very to-the-point and interesting. Overall, I learned a lot from this, and it made me consider a perspective I knew very little about.
But that's also the troubling thing; a lot of readers who have autism or mothers of autistic children are suspicious that this book was embellished during its conception and its translation. The authenticity of it is questioned, which is something you really have to know going into this book. Many of the positive reviews are from mothers or siblings or relatives of people with autism saying, "I finally know what's it's like for them!" but this could be misinformation.
Just something to consider if you want to pick this up! If you are a person with autism who has read this book or are interested in reading it, I'd love to know how accurate or inaccurate it is!
Profile Image for Edoardo Albert.
Author 51 books140 followers
August 16, 2013
My eldest son has Asperger's syndrome and, while not locked into wordlessness in the same way the author was when he was little, he shares some of the behaviours described in this book, most notably the one on the cover: he jumps. He also intersperses that with bouncing up and down on a large gym ball, and running up and down corridors. And, you know what, I'd never asked him why he did these things. He just did them. Naoki Higashida, though, gives reasons for why he jumps, and flaps his hand in front of his face, and many other things, and while my son probably wouldn't give exactly the same answers (I'm going to ask him though!), the fact that there are answers, intriguing, beguiling, authentic answers, is akin to revelatory. Repeated actions, day in, day out, week after week, year after year, with the accompanying soundtrack of hisses and squeaks, can become - to me at least - teeth gratingly irritating. What Naoki makes clear, and what I should have known but had lost sight of, is that it is so much harder for my son. Patience, prudence, fortitude. Old-fashioned words and old-fashioned virtues, but this book makes it clear that these are the key attributes needed by those caring for children with ASC (autism spectrum conditions). Naoki's voice, individual and inquiring, comes through as a far more genuine reflection of ASC children than books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - it should be! Indeed the intense self-reflection displayed in this book brought to mind some comments of my own son, when he remarked, in intense frustration, "That's another theory down the drain." It turned out that, like an experimental scientist, he formed hypotheses about people's behaviour and emotions, and then tested them out against observation, and he did this again and again and again. The strain of such constant testing needs hardly be stated.

In short, as a short, impressionistic account of what the ASC mind is like in childhood, this book is the best I have read. If you have an ASC child, or know one, you should read it. Your child's answers will not be the same, his questions might well be different, but, ah, to know there are answers...

Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,730 followers
May 29, 2016
“We get swallowed up by the illusion that unless we can find a place to belong, we are going to be all alone in the world.”
― Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump


An interesting memoir, translated by David Mitchell, and written by a 13-year-old Japanese boy (Naoki Higashida) with autism. If you teach, live with, know someone who has autism or an autistic child this is (or at least was for me) an insightful glimpse into the struggles and perspectives of a child with autism.

I became slightly, and wrongly, familiar with autism in Jr High when I watched 'Rain Man' and a visit was made to our school by the guy who inspired the movie. Kim Peek, who wasn't actually autistic (not all people with autism are savants and not all savants are autistic), came to our school and performed some of his fantastic feats of memory. He had all of Shakespeare's plays down cold, could dance through calendars, etc. You would give him a date and he would give you the day of the week, phase of the moon, the holiday it may have been, famous people and events on that day.

Even when I was young, I felt a little wary of the way his talents and exceptional life was used, but I couldn't exactly explain why. It felt a bit exploitive. There was too much focus on his abilities and not enough focus on what those who think differently actually go through. It took years and a lot of other experiences with kids who were autistic, or family members who are on the "spectrum," to recognize that Kim Peek was just one manifestation of how the wide and deep the differences are in the way our brains are organized.

Autism, the last few years, has finally gained a bit of ground. I wonder if this is because a lot of my peers have autistic children. It seems like a higher number of kids are diagnosed with autism or some other complex forms of brain development. I'm not sure if we are just more aware of things, more willing to talk and to share, or if there is indeed something going on. When I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, about 1 out of every 2,000 children had autism. Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 150 8-year-olds in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Everything from GMOs to vaccines etc., have been blamed for this increase. It might also reflect nothing more than just the way we count.

Anyway, this book is another reminder that there are multiple ways to experience the world. Too often it seems that we have boundaries and expectations about what it means to be normal. Not all of us see the dress as Blue/Black or White/Gold. Some of us can feel the dress and some of us don't see anything at all. The more tolerant and understanding we become of the diversity of people, I believe, the better the experience we will have on this blue rock will be.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,488 reviews842 followers
December 14, 2021
“But when I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky. Really, my urge to be swallowed up by the sky is enough to make my heart quiver.
. . .
But constrained both by ourselves and by the people around us, all we can do is tweet-tweet, flap our wings and hop around in a cage. Ah, if only I could just flap my wings and soar away, into the big blue yonder, over the hills and far away!”

What a unique memoir! Born in 1992, thirteen-year-old Japanese boy Naoki Higashida was diagnosed with autism when he was five, learned to use an alphabet grid to form words and sentences, and wrote this book. In it, he answers, with a lot of humour, the questions we ask, or would like to ask, people who have autism.

Renowned British author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks) and his wife, Keiko (K.A. Yoshida) have an autistic son, and when they saw this book, they knew it needed to be available to more people, so they translated it into English. Mitchell wrote a long preface, which makes an interesting introduction to Naoki, autism, and Naoki's first memoir.

“It is no exaggeration to say that ‘The Reason I Jump’ allowed me to round a corner in our relationship with our son. Naoki Higashida’s writing administered the kick I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, and start thinking how much tougher life was for my son, and what I could do to make it less tough. Virtuous spirals are as wonderful in special-needs parenting as anywhere else: your expectations for your child are raised; your stamina to get through the rocky patches is strengthened; and your child senses this, and responds.”

His family knows what it’s like living with an autistic family member, and they’re certainly familiar with a lot of the theory and how it can fall short in a day-to-day situation.

“Of course it’s good that academics are researching the field, but often the gap between the theory and what’s unraveling on your kitchen floor is too wide to bridge.”

Both Mitchell and Naoki say that autism is different for everyone, but Naoki’s inside knowledge makes his advice unique. I found it interesting that some of it conflicts with how we often do deal with kids who are exhibiting repetitive, autistic behaviour.

“I’m always struggling inside my own body, and staying still really hammers it home that I’m trapped here. But as long as I’m in a state of motion. I’m able to relax a little bit. Everyone tells people with autism, ‘Calm down, stop fidgeting, stay still,’ when we’re busy moving around. But because I feel so much more relaxed when I am moving, it took me quite a while to work out exactly what their ‘calm down’ even meant.”

And then when he’s asked to move in some certain way, he has just as much trouble.

“We don’t even have proper control over our own bodies. Both staying still and moving when we’re told to are tricky—it’s as if we’re remote-controlling a faulty robot.

. . .
There are times when I can’t act, even though I really, badly want to. This is when my body is beyond my control. I don’t mean I’m ill or anything. It’s as if my whole body, except for my soul, feels as if it belongs to somebody else and I have zero control over it. I don’t think you could ever imagine what an agonizing sensation this is.
. . .
In my gym class, the teacher tells me to do things like ‘Stretch your arms!’ and ‘Bend at the knees!’ But I don’t always know what my arms and legs are up to, not exactly. For me, I have no clear sensation of where my arms and legs are attached, or how to make them do what I’m telling them to do.
. . .
I still can’t even tell when I’ve stepped on someone’s foot or jostled someone out of my way. So something connected with my sense of touch might be miswired too.”

He explains why he may be naughty, and repeat things he’s been told not to do – and KNOWS he’s not supposed to do – but the pull to do something familiar is just too strong to resist. With so many new things assaulting the senses all the time, day in, day out, there is comfort in the familiar.

Who hasn’t had the sensation of being in a very noisy place with bad acoustics? Transport terminal, supermarket, school playground (!). Who hasn’t told children at one time or another, “BE QUIET FOR A MINUTE – I CAN’T THINK!!”

To escape the noisy family holiday party, for example, we say we’re going for a walk to clear our heads – just to get outside. Peace and quiet. Naoki’s refuge is being outside, in nature.

“However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts.
. . .
I’ll always cherish the part of me that thinks of nature as a friend.”

The book is interspersed with illustrations of plants and flowers, as a tribute to Naoki’s love of the environment. There is so much more in here, more about food, repetition, shouting, impulse control - all kinds of things.

It’s amazing to think of the insight he had about himself and about us at such a young age.


There is some later information here, when he was 20. (He's nearly 30.) https://www.wretchesandjabberers.org/...

If you read Japanese, here's his blog with a nice photo of him that I think is current.

There's another book translated into English as well. Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
Profile Image for Laurie.
223 reviews42 followers
October 8, 2013
I've read a lot of first-person accounts of autism. This was not one of my favorites. It was, in fact, a very frustrating book to read. The writer's voice tried to speak for all persons with autism, for example:

"Q39 Why do you like being in the water?"

"We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed. All people with autism feel the same about this one, I reckon. Aquatic life-forms came into being and evolved, but why did they then have to emerge onto dry land, and turn into human beings who chose to lead lives ruled by time? These are real mysteries to me...People with autism have no freedom. The reason is that we are a different kind of human, born with primeval senses. We are outside the normal flow of time, we can't express ourselves, and our bodies are hurtling us through life. If only we could go back to that distant, watery past--then we'd all be able to live as contentedly and freely as you lot!"

Also, there was a lot of that kind of bullshit.

Thanks to reviewer Mindy for this link: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/...
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews3,335 followers
December 10, 2020
Author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks, Slade House) came upon this book from Japan in his and his wife’s quest to better understand their 3-year-old son with autism. It’s the writing of a 13-year-old boy whose autism is severe but has learned to communicate using an alphabet grid. In Mitchell’s Introduction, he explains that it “administered the kick I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, and start thinking how much tougher life was for my son, and what I could do to make it less tough.” Believing the book could benefit a wider audience, his wife Ka Yoshida embarked on this English translation.

The actual text of The Reason I Jump is primarily a series of questions posed to the teen (Naoki Higashida) and his responses. They go something like this:

Q: What’s the reason you jump?
A: By jumping up and down, it’s as if I’m shaking loose the ropes that are tying up my body. When I jump, I feel lighter, and I think the reason my body is drawn skyward is that the motion makes me want to change into a bird and fly off to some faraway place.

While I do know people on the autism spectrum, they’re not close relationships. I picked up this book after a few friends recommended it to me as an impactful read. What I gained from it primarily is a reinforcement of empathy. I highlighted sentences like, “True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect.”

But, I think it would be a mistake to put The Reason I Jump on a pedestal as anything like an “owners’ manual” for autism. Higashida often generalizes that what he experiences is universal for his cohort, and I’m not so sure about that. One size doesn’t fit all.

There are also many 1-star criticisms that the book is fabricated and unlikely to be authentic in its claims of authorship. I don’t know about that, but the skepticism did cause me to read this with a grain of salt. At a very slim 135 pages, it was still worth the short amount of time I spent with it though.
Profile Image for JSou.
136 reviews214 followers
July 24, 2013
I knew I would love this book before I even glanced at the first page because of a few reasons. Let's make a list, shall we?

1.) My son was diagnosed with autism almost 6 years ago. I've always wanted to be able to get inside his head and find out what he was actually thinking and seeing.

2.) My son also jumps. A lot.

3.) Written by a 13-year-old boy from Japan, this book was translated by David Mitchell. Anyone who has had any form of contact with me knows they will hear how Mitchell is my all-time favorite [living] author and that the man can do no wrong.

4.) The cover is really cool.

This was a quick but very touching read. (I got choked up just reading the introduction.) Using an alphabet grid and pointing to different letters, Higashida was able to communicate replies to a series of common questions about people with autism. Not only was it really informative, but Higashida had written a few short stories that were placed throughout the book. Reading those totally debunked the crazy theory that people with autism don't understand emotions or can't feel any empathy.

I'm so glad I got to read this. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one sitting. I love being able to gain any amount of understanding about autism, and this book definitely provided that.

Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,389 reviews1,470 followers
September 1, 2016
The reviews on this one from my Goodreads friends are very mixed and I understand why. The Reason I Jump touches on a very emotional topic. I'm not an expert on autism so I am completely unqualified to determine if Naoki wrote this book with or without help or the over arching truth of his experiences. However, as a reader, I thought that some of Naoki's words were very beautiful.

Perhaps he could have connected with more people if he had chosen to write "I" and "me" instead of "us" and "we". Who can really say that they are able to communicate for a whole group of people- at the end of the day, you can only really speak for yourself.

Naoki talks about difficulties in communicating his feelings, the beauty of nature, the impossibility of controlling his emotions or repetitive actions- knowing that he's not behaving "normally" but not able to do anything about it. "Please don't judge us from the outside only. I don't know why we can't talk properly. But it's not that we won't talk- it's that we can't talk and we're suffering because of it."pg 24, ebook.

It seems to me that everyone's lens of perception is different and we can learn from each other if we share our own unique viewpoint. I certainly learned about Naoki's inner world from this book.
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,191 reviews1,077 followers
November 26, 2013
I rated a book by a 13 year old 1-star. I'm a monster. I feel bad, but I just didn't enjoy it.

I found it remarkably short on insight. There's a lot of "I don't why we do this but we do". If it hadn't been billed as being an insider's view of the experience of autism this would have been less frustrating.

I found the voice irritating rather than charming (there may have been a lot lost in translation).

Sorry :(

ETA: I loaned this to a person who works with special-needs kids, and they loved it so much they a) couldn't stop raving, and b) immediately ordered their own copy. So, while it wasn't for me, clearly YMMV.
Profile Image for Deb.
249 reviews79 followers
March 12, 2014
I worked with autistic children of all ages and abilities at one time. I am too big a skeptic to believe that these are the words or thoughts of any 13 year old.

I question it so much that I went back to find some examples. Remember, these are supposedly his words:
~ "there is another way to say what you want without using the vocal nervous system"
~ true compassion is not about bruising the other person's self respect"
~ "the thought that our lives are the source of other people's unhappiness, that's plain unbearable"
~ "people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization"
~ "we are...different in many ways. We are more like travelers from a distant, distant past"
~ " when we look at nature we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world and our entire bodies get recharged"
~ "what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us quiet pleasure"

Eye roll. C'mon. I don't know. Seemed a bit embellished by the writer/translator to me. Plus, I don't feel like I learned anything. Several questions that were posed were repetitive, just asked in a slightly different way. Not really what I was expecting, glad it was a short, quick read.
Profile Image for Mai.
200 reviews115 followers
September 3, 2016
This book in my opinion must be everybody's cup of tea, it's quite important if I do say so myself.

Having autism, raising an autistic person or knowing one, all comes with pain attached, but living with autism is a thing and raising/pitying one is another. It's ten fold painful to live with autism your whole life, whichever level you might have! It's painful, frustrating, agonizing, and depressing, and with all the former stated feelings it's still massively ignored or belittled, I don't quite grasp the reason to be honest.

I'm autistic, HFA Asperger's Syndrome, and I fell in love with this book although it's an individual's experience and I disagreed with the author on some things and didn't deal with some other things he described, autistic people -as we like to call ourselves, it's totally appreciated if you acknowledged the disability by the way- are different people, we deal with things differently, we aren't all the same some of us don't have the symptoms the other has, one of the most beautiful things about autism is that we get to be stronger, we get to push ourselves to be better to practice our weaknesses and develop our personality.

From experience, I've dealt with some symptoms that were quite embarrassing but I kept on practicing to apologise when I'm wrong, answer when I'm asked a question, chat with a person but never befriend them -it's still hard to get that attached to a person with a smell and foreign feel- I practiced my language, I can play with words and be sassy, but I still can't get jokes and know when to laugh and when to not. It's all about practice and a loving person. All anyone needs is love.

I wish I could give my parents this book so that they could know why I do somethings out of my control, but then again, they try so hard everyday. And I'm grateful for that.

I'll always love this book, because as long as I've lived with autism and I'm a LOT better with age, but I didn't quite know the reason behind somethings I did, and this book made me learn about my disability and myself and accept it during hard times. And it's quite beautiful.

Please, if you know/raise/are a person with autism, read this book.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,780 followers
May 15, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I’d feel bad about giving a 1 Star rating to a book written by a 13 year old if I believed at all that a 13 year old actually wrote this book. Since I do not I have zero guilt.

I see The Reason I Jump as yet another outlet that has adults manipulating a child in order to advance their own personal agenda (*cough* Heaven is for Real *cough*). I believe Naoki’s mother, as well as David Mitchell and his wife, used Naoki’s alphabet board more like a Ouija Board and interpreted responses given in the way they wanted to hear them. There is no way a thirteen year old child came up with some of these answers.

Q: Why do you like being in the water?

"We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed. All people with autism feel the same about this one, I reckon.”


They (the adults) also made the decision to continue the abuse use of this “we/us” terminology with respect to all of Naoki’s answers to paint everyone that falls on the autism spectrum with the same broad brush. That does nothing to further awareness – in fact, it does the exact opposite.

If this book teaches people to have more tolerance or understanding of those who fall on the spectrum, that is wonderful. I, however, have always been (and still remain) hesitant when it comes to adult “advocates” using children as their tool.

Profile Image for Harriet.
100 reviews
July 12, 2013
As a parent with a child on the spectrum, this was an extremely useful book. Of course it can't provide all answers because it is written from the point of view of one particular child. I sort of wish that my son would write his own version for me to read, but this book was a definite reminder to hold onto my patience and understand that obeying instructions is not such a simple matter of listening and following but involves a complex journey in the mind of an autistic child. The book was fascinating about voices too and why an autistic child prefers not to engage in eye contact. That really struck a chord as my son is brilliant on the telephone yet falters in face to face dialogue. I would say this is a 'must read'.
Profile Image for lov2laf.
714 reviews1,059 followers
January 13, 2018
There's some skepticism and criticism for this book questioning whether this thirteen year old nonverbal boy actually wrote it and/or that it speaks in too big of generalizations. I agree with the generalizations bit but, putting that aside, there is value in this read and I enjoyed it.

The structure of the book is in an easy Question and Answer format addressing some of the most common questions people familiar with a person on the spectrum wonders.

Questions like:
Do I want to or like being alone?
Why do I like to watch things spin?
Why do I ask the same questions over and over?
Why don't I use eye contact?
Why do I wiggle my fingers in front of my eyes?
Why do I make noises?
Do I want to be touched?
Why can't I speak?
Why do I have meltdowns?
Why do I line things up?
Why do I cover my ears?
Why do I bolt?
Why do I like water?
Why do I like doing the same things repeatedly?
and so on...

The answers are straight forward, interesting, and articulate. The use of the royal "we" is often applied which can make it sound like the answers represent everyone on the Autism Spectrum and I think readers could get into trouble there.

Autism affects people differently in addition to whatever unique personality quirks each person has (hence the Spectrum) so the experience and reasons for Naoki's actions should be taken as just that, his. However, his answers do provide some general insight, as well, so there are takeaways.

The main takeaway I had is that there is a full person inside the individual with Autism regardless of speaking ability, stims, distractions, or being "in their own world". As a mother of two kids on the Spectrum I already know this but further insights are always appreciated.

With the use of technology, people on the Spectrum that were once locked in their bodies can have a voice and it's amazing to hear it. Naoki is just one. For skeptics of ability of those on the Spectrum, I recommend watching Wretches and Jabberers and Loving Lampposts which show numerous examples of the intelligence and full personalities held within.

I have the audiobook version of "The Reason I Jump" and have to say that the narrators were excellent.

Overall, I found this to be a helpful book and recommend it as a read to anyone interested about those on the Autism Spectrum.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
304 reviews18 followers
March 17, 2014
I don't know how to review this book.

My first impression was that it had a bit of an Upworthy vibe surrounding it. "A thirteen-year-old autistic boy finds a way to speak. What he says will astound you." (My facebook feed is littered with this stuff and I am done with it.)

But, the introduction from David Mitchell gave me hope that there was something more here. He described how helping to translate this work (originally in Japanese) helped him round the corner in dealing with his own autistic son. He points out that before this book, autism-related autobiographical works came from authors like Temple Grandin, adults that had already sorted things out. I'd argue that they're limited to the writings of relatively "high-functioning" autistics, as well. Autism is a wide spectrum.

Naoki Higashida is described as "severely autistic," but his mother and teachers found a way to help him communicate through the use of an alphabet grid. How exactly this works is not explained, but the claim is that it opened the floodgates. Naoki cannot speak, but thanks to the persistence of his caregivers, he can now be a writer and share all his thoughts and experiences. This book mostly has a Q&A format, but there are also a few stories, some very nearly like fables. Mitchell and his wife assisted with the translation.

The early Q&A is a bit repetitive, but it seemed believable. The inner life of Naoki is one filled with frustration. He is unable to express himself verbally or emotionally in the way that he intends. He cannot control his impulses, though he very much wants to. He is depressed when others are frustrated with him and he feels trapped in his body. He begs for patience. People with autism see and sense your frustration and it only makes them feel worse, because inside they are truly trying. They want desperately to connect with the world. Often they can't do what you are asking of them. Many times they quickly forget, too.

Some of the descriptions of how he senses and experiences the world were quite beautiful. Time does not flow the same way for him. Memories, both sad and happy, are as vivid and emotionally potent as the original experiences. Sensory details are captivating beyond description. He finds joy in his own voice, even if he's not able to form words. Uncontrolled body motions are sometimes an attempt to focus and remain in the moment with you.

For the most part the questions are simple (asking why he jumps, for example), but some of them still seem retrofitted to the text of the answers. I think this is why it seemed repetitive, too. If they had overlapping answers, they'd add an overlapping question. Again, this made me feel it was all genuine in the beginning. After all, how many overlapping narratives did I write when I was thirteen? (A LOT.)

As it went on, however, I began to feel like the answers weren't coming from Naoki. Take this answer on why he likes being in the water, for example:

We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed. All people with autism feel the same about this one, I reckon. Aquatic life-forms came into being and evolved, but why did they then have to emerge onto dry land, and turn into human beings who chose to lead lives ruled by time? These are real mysteries to me... People with autism have no freedom. The reason is that we are a different kind of human, born with primeval senses. We are outside the normal flow of time, we can't express ourselves, and our bodies are hurtling us through life. If only we could go back to that distant, watery past--then we'd all be able to live as contentedly and freely as you lot!

Wait. What? Poetic, sure, but I think too poetic for a thirteen-year-old with severe autism who has been, up until this point, uncommunicative. He is now speaking for all people with autism, too?

Of his fondness for being outdoors:

Just by looking at nature, I feel as if I'm being swallowed up into it, and in that moment I get the sensation that my body's now a speck, a speck from long before I was born, a speck that is melting into nature herself. This sensation is so amazing that I forget that I'm a human being, and one with special needs to boot.

Nature calms me down when I'm furious, and laughs with me when I'm happy. You might think that it's not possible that nature could be a friend, not really. But human beings are part of the animal kingdom too, and perhaps us people with autism still have some left-over awareness of this, buried somewhere deep down. I'll always cherish that part of me that thinks of nature as a friend.


I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization. Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet-wrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists. Autism has somehow arisen out of this. Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure.

Passages like these made me want to cry, but not because I was touched. I was very angry. I don't think this is real. I really wanted it to be, too. My nephew is severely autistic. I have close friends with children on the spectrum. Early in the book, I thought this may be providing a glimpse of how the autistic brain works, but by the end, I was afraid this was all more Upworthy bullshit. Even worse: I wondered if this was a scam.

As this this article notes, "It is undoubtedly reassuring for parents of children with autism in Britain to discover in Higashida’s account a boy who not only sympathises with their difficulties, but also shares many of the familiar views of middle-aged, middle-class readers in Western society." Indeed. It's all too much to believe.

In my searches so far, I've found no videos or detailed explanations of how this alphabet grid works for Naoki. Apparently someone transcribes the letters he chooses. Do they steady his hand while he does it? Could someone other than his caregivers do these transcriptions, too? Perhaps someone who is not invested in book sales or his personal branding as the poetic voice of severe autism? Has any of this been verified? I want evidence. This book alone is not evidence.

Can this book give some hope to those like Mitchell, trying to understand why their child is banging their head on the wall? Possibly. (Part of me even feels like it's a dangerous sort of hope, but I recognize that's none of my business.)

I worry about the precedent this book sets, however, if it turns into a big thing and is never properly scrutinized. I feel like there's not nearly enough healthy skepticism any more. People are so eager to believe a sensational story. I personally know people that choose to ignore the discrediting of Andrew Wakefield's work saying, "Well, it could still be true." No, that is not how science works. We don't take a thought that makes sense and then assume it's true until proven otherwise.

So, there are lots of nice thoughts in this book, but nice thoughts are not enough for me to believe. I need evidence that this is not some sort of well-meaning hoax.
Profile Image for Mara.
401 reviews282 followers
May 13, 2014
The Reason I Jump is the memoir of a Japanese boy, Naoki Higashida who, at the time of its writing, was thirteen. Naoki, who is autistic and writes with the aid of a visual alphabet card, offers his answers to a series of questions (including, of course, "What's the reason you jump?"). I knew nothing about this book prior to coming across it as a daily deal on Audible, where it aroused 99 cents worth of my curiosity. I certainly wasn't disappointed as I had no real expectations going in (so, I suppose, disappointment wasn't really on the menu).

Naoki is introspective and thoughtful. His answers offer some phenomenological insight as to what it must be like for someone with certain sensory differences to experience the world, much in the way that Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight depicts the internal experience of having a stroke (minus the scientific analysis Taylor brings to the table as a neuroanatomist). However, one must bear in mind that such accounts are one person's experience.

Naoki Higashida

While I certainly don't fault Naoki for this, the tendency to answer questions by statements beginning with "we," hints at what seems to be a point of contention around this book. Naoki isn't answering (and never could answer) for all autistic individuals. In fact, I found myself wondering about how other aspects of his identity shaped his world view. For example, he often communicates an intense discomfort with the impact of his behavior on those around him. Was part of this an artifact of living in a more collectivist eastern culture? Maybe- and that's not something I would expect the narrator to be able to parse! It does, however, suggest a flaw in any hopes that this would somehow be a panacea for parents of autistic children.

Without any strong connection to the subject matter, this was an enjoyable, but not earth shattering listen for me. If I had gone into it hoping for it to be "a Rosetta Stone" that would "stretch [my] vision of what it is to be human," as Andrew Solomon was quoted as saying of the book, I think I might have been let down- but that's also quite a lot to ask of a single book, and certainly to ask of a 13-year-old.
Profile Image for Lindsay Seddon.
130 reviews7 followers
July 13, 2013
This book is just brilliant.

I don't know anyone who is autistic, and if I ever meet them, I have to admit, I don't really know what to do. Before I read this book I didn't know enough about autism to know how I should react, and it made me feel awkward and embarrassed. What better way to find out more than reading this, a book about autism written by an autistic child?

This book addresses everything you want it to in terms of the social aspects of children with autism. How a child feels about their own autism, how other people feel about their autism, it explains the little quirks (e.g. enjoying spinning around and television adverts)of some autistic children, and answers questions you always wanted to ask or may not have even thought to ask. It's easy to make assumptions based on stories you've heard, like autistic children preferring to be alone or not liking to be touched. This book abolishes such stereotypes.

David Mitchel's foreword got me a little choked-up at times, especially when reading about the process of coming to terms with the discovery that your child is autistic, and I was even more emotional when reading Naoki's own words about how frustrating and depressing it can be when nothing seems to be going right.

I'd recommend this to anyone and everyone. It is such an eye-opener.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,494 reviews378 followers
September 8, 2013
I won The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. I will say at the outset that it is a wonderful book, short but powerful. It is written by 13-year-old Naoki Higashida, a Japanese boy who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. He writes by spelling out words on an alphabet grid although apparently he is able to use a keyboard but finds the more arduous process more comfortable.
I was very interested in the book for several reasons. First, the book is translated by one of my favorite authors, David Mitchell, who wrote Cloud Atlas and Number9Dream (among many other books), who also wrote the introduction. Mitchell is also the parent of a young child with autism. He writes that the book was a “revelatory godsend” and that “Reading it felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us...through Naoki’s words.” The book revealed to Mitchell that “locked inside the ... autistic body is a mind as curious, subtle and complex as...anyone’s.” He speaks of the book as “restoring faith” and revolutionizing his relationship with his son. Higashida’s sharing of experience brought Mitchell a renewed sense of purpose, patience, and energy in dealing with the often-overwhelming and exhausting experience of raising a child with autism.
This offering of insight, of a look into the mind of someone who has a significant degree of autism may even by itself be a reason to read this book. It will help anyone but especially those like Mitchell and myself who parent a child who is on the spectrum. Higashida speaks with a gentle but strong voice of both the suffering and gift of being autistic. He writes that those with autism are like aliens in our world but given the right environment would be as curious and effective as those of us not struggling with a disability. He writes movingly of his desire to learn and the obstacles that get in his way. The ways he meets these obstacles, he writes, may seem like odd choices and preferences that in fact are a refuge in the familiar. He says that he may respond to commercials and choose to line up objects in his free time not because these activities are of special interest but because he knows that he can do these things: this is comforting and reassuring to him. However, he writes, he would prefer to be learning something new and difficult. He is too overwhelmed to learn independently but, he repeats frequently, he is grateful to those who are patient enough to teach him.
Another reason I was eager to read this book is that in addition to parenting a child on the spectrum, I am also a teacher of adolescents who are on the autistic spectrum. The book is written in a question and answer format that addresses many of the questions frequently asked about people with autism, such as “Why do you ask the same questions over and over,” Why are your facial expressions so limited?” and the question that leads to the book’s title because in many ways it sums up Higashida’s experience, “Why do you jump?” I have watched many students spend hours jumping so I found this question, as I did so many of them, to echo directly my own thoughts. (I will refrain from giving Higashida’s response: you’ll need to read the book for that!). Higashida’s responses are wonderfully honest and direct (two of the traits I love about my students who almost without exception possess them in abundance-be careful what you ask a person with autism, they will answer with the truth as they see it!)
Related to my interest as a teacher, parent, and reader, is my interest as a human being in the experience of others. Why I read, generally, is to break out of the prison of my own perspective and, for however briefly, have a glimpse of another’s experience of their world. This book gives me more than that. Higashida makes an enormous effort to communicate his experience of life and I felt honored and enlightened. Like Mitchell, I felt as though I had been given the gift of renewal in my relationships with my students.
In a blurb on the back cover, Andrew Solomon (a distinguished author who wrote Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon) writes that the book “takes about 90 minutes to read” while increasing our understanding of “human.” I agree that the book expanded my understanding of human experience but, while each section is quite short, one or sometimes two pages, and the book overall less than 200 pages, I did not read it as quickly as Mr. Solomon did. Although I am generally a fast reader, I found most sections so packed with experience and insight that I spent as much time reading a page as I usually do reading 10 or 15. The writing is not glib nor is the experience always easy to access. I did not begrudge the time I spent reading the book; I valued it greatly.
My only serious quibble in fact, is that both the author and translator assume the book represents the experience of all those with autism. I would wonder if, as in anyone sharing experience, there are certainly some aspects that are common to others on the spectrum but that there are other interpretations of his autism and how it influences his actions and emotions that are particular to Higashida. I think it disrespectful (however inadvertently) to seize one person’s experience and make it universal to all. People with autism are, after all, people first and while there are surely aspects of their experience shared by others who also have autism, they also have their own unique perspective and experiences. In addition, Higashida is sharing as truthfully as possible his understanding of himself but he often admits he is not sure of all his reasons. All of us are both unique and general; all of us struggle throughout our life to gain understanding into our own motives and perceptions.
Higashida writes of his special relationship with nature. One of the gifts, as he sees it, of his autism is a deep and direct experience of the beauty around him. Ka Yoshida (Mitchell’s wife) is one of the book’s illustrator’s and the beautiful black and white illustrations are “nature based” and both resonate with and complement the text.
At the end of the book, is a short story written by Higashida. Earlier in his book, Higashida explains that he writes down his experiences so he can remember it. He also creates short stories, perhaps for reasons similar to why he writes other experiences and, in fact, this book: to better understand himself and his autism. The story, “I’m Right Here,” explores the experience of a young boy who, through no fault of his own, becomes an alien within his family and his life. Although the circumstances Higashida creates are different, it seems the effort to make sense of a world in which he is often perceived (by others as well as himself) as “different” are a part of this fiction as well.
Higashida was born in 1992 and graduated from high school in 2011. His brief bio states that he is an author of several books of fiction and non-fiction and an advocate for others with autism and a motivational speaker.
The Reason I Jump does both: it advocates for those with autism who are unable to communicate their experience to us, giving the rest of us a glimpse into the complexity of their world and the minds often hidden by their autism and is motivational in giving us a sense of the intrinsic worth and beauty of life and the courage shown by those around us that we might never see.
I strongly recommend this book to all. It will deepen your understanding not only of those with special needs but of your own life and experience as well. I am extremely grateful to have won this book and had the chance to live within its covers.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,320 reviews1,252 followers
June 23, 2021
Hmmm...I am an adult on the autism spectrum, having Aspergers Syndrome. I also have worked with autistic teens and have a teen son with Aspergers. I had high hopes for this book but two things really got me a bit worked up. One was that I truly find it hard to believe that word for word this was written solely by a 13 year old boy, the language used doesn't fit from years of experience with autistic teens. Secondly a lot of answers were not answered fully, they were evasive responses and some just simply contradicted the very nature of autism.

For example the question is asked about what causes meltdowns, a long winded answer is given but not once is sensory overload mentioned, this is a major cause of meltdowns in kids and adults on the spectrum - too much noise, light, movement, sensation etc.

His mention of visual planners being unhelpful goes against everything I have seen WORK with autistic people, to give advice not to use pictures stunned me. He suggests explaining plans verbally instead, very difficult as many with autism will have comorbid speech language and processing disorders such as Receptive Language Disorder (like my 14 year old son) which means processing any verbal instructions is very hard. Contradictions are present in this book in my opinion.

The question is asked about waving and flicking fingers, the answer is given that it filters light into the eyes a different and softer way, every autistic person I know that finger flicks or twiddled fingers does it because it FEELS GOOD and is calming, also known as "stims" nothing to do with filtering light.

Then there is this:

"Q39 Why do you like being in the water?"

"We just want to go back. To the distant, distant past. To a primeval era, in fact, before human beings even existed. All people with autism feel the same about this one, I reckon. Aquatic life-forms came into being and evolved, but why did they then have to emerge onto dry land, and turn into human beings who chose to lead lives ruled by time? These are real mysteries to me...People with autism have no freedom. The reason is that we are a different kind of human, born with primeval senses. We are outside the normal flow of time, we can't express ourselves, and our bodies are hurtling us through life. If only we could go back to that distant, watery past--then we'd all be able to live as contentedly and freely as you lot!"

Are you serious? An autistic child of even more high functioning nature does not answer a question with that much romanticism - autistic people I know like like watching water or touching it say this "it's soothing" that's it, simple as that.

I would hate to think parents of autistic children would take this as gospel because even if it is his version of how autism is to him, a lot of it does not line up with others with varying types of autism.

I am ashamed to say a bit I read this with skepticism and I read a LOT on autism as it's in my life every single day.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Hopkinson.
Author 20 books37 followers
July 28, 2013
I read this book because I hoped to gain a better understanding of an autistic neighbour who lives near me. But what I actually discovered was that I have a lot more in common with autistic people than I realised. Some of the ways in which I see and experience the world are the same as some of the ways Naoki describes in the book. And his little short stories are so beautiful. So, as well as helping me understand my neighbour, this book helped me feel better about myself.
Profile Image for Kyle.
121 reviews207 followers
December 7, 2013
"When I was small, I didn't even know that I was a kid with special needs. How did I find out? By other people telling me I was different from everyone else, and that this was a problem."

Initially, this book was structured very differently than I expected. I approached it thinking it would a memoir-style account that subtly gave insight into the autistic mind and experience; when the book didn't fit my pre-determined category I had already constructed for it, I became annoyed. Yet, why should it conform to my notions of proper structure, or form? Why should it be written in a style "normal" for me? To demand such familiarity with a book like this is simply absurd, and I had to overcome this absurdity through the 2 hours it took me to read this little book.

Instead, this book is structured like a long FAQ list about autistic behavior, with Naoki trying to answer each FAQ from his own perspective. And why shouldn't the book be structured that way? The clear purpose of the book is to bring the autistic perspective closer to the understanding of "normal" people. What is it like to be autistic? Why do autistic people act so...crazy? What can someone do to ease the experience of being around an autistic person? ... answering all of these questions to the best of his ability is the goal of little Mr. Higashida. Caring for an autistic child can be frustrating, difficult, and emotionally exhausting. But imagine how the autistic child feels... if you can't, or have difficulty doing so, then this may be the book for you.

I would be curious to see this book translated by someone else. I am in no position to judge the translation skills of David Mitchell or his wife; yet, I couldn't stop thinking about the translation while reading the book. Without any authority to back this up, if I was to guess I would say David Mitchell and his wife translated the "gist" of what Naoki wrote. I have a feeling they focused on what Naoki maybe meant rather than what Naoki actually wrote. I really only guess that based on syntax and some lexical choices; it is obvious that Naoki is an extremely bright and thoughtful 13-year old boy with autism, yet the writing doesn't actually feel like a 13-year old boy with autism (whatever that actually feels like).

The subjective nature of the book, and the limitations of Naoki himself, obviously mean that this book should not be taken as some treatise on the autistic experience or some authoritative text about cognition. What the book is however, is a charming and thoughtful collection of personal thoughts from a perspective rarely accessible to the rest of us.

This simple little book has a simple little purpose: to attempt to explain some the world from a different perspective and facilitate understanding and acceptance. Even though it may not revolutionize the world of autism research, it succeeds admirably in its goal. Anyone who lives or knows an autistic person would benefit from this book, as well as any researcher who may want an opinion a little less... quantitative.

Attempting to see the world from another person's point of view is one of the most helpful and, dare I say, human things we can ever do. If this book aids someone in that attempt, then it achieves what few things can.
Profile Image for Lauren.
504 reviews1,632 followers
December 4, 2017
(Review by an actually autistic person.)

Oh, dear. I knew that when I started reading about autism, I was going to eventually find something horrific. I just wasn’t expecting it to be this one.

This book is very negative about autism. And no, I’m not one of those autistic people who overly romanticizes autism. It’s not that black & white for me. Autism makes my life very difficult and I’m often anxious & depressed because of it, but it also makes me who I am and I wouldn’t want to be cured of all that autism is. (Just the negative parts, but I feel like that would be even more impossible.)
My autism comes with some awesome qualities like attention to detail and an unique perspective and special interests and hyperfocus and a great connection with animals. Also, like Naoki Higashida says in his book, “For us, you see, having autism is normal — so we can’t know for sure what your 'normal' is even like.”

There are so many good questions in this book and I felt like none of them were answered in a way that would help neurotypicals understand us better. There’s a lot of “people with autism do this but I don’t know why”.

This book is filled to the brim with generalizations. It would make for repetitive writing to always have to write 'some/most autistic people' all the time, but I feel like this is the other end of it. It should have been a mix, just like with the use of 'person first language'. Many autistic people prefer to be talked about as 'an autistic person', rather than 'a person with autism', because the latter makes it sound like a disease that needs curing, among many other valid reasons. Of course, there are some autistic people who prefer 'person with autism', but it’s not the majority, as far as I know. Still, it’s always best to always ask the person in question what they prefer.

There is a lot of 'we' and 'us autistic kids/people' rather than 'I', and that annoys me. I think some neurotypicals reading this might forget that Naoki cannot possibly speak for all autistic people.
On page 148, he explains that neurotypicals often think autistics 'won’t be able to understand the plan for the day just by listening’, and he says that us autistics will eventually get better at it. Then he says that 'being shown photos of places we’re going to visit on an upcoming school trip, for example, can spoil our fun', in such a generalized way… And like, if my mom had read this and stopped helping me prepare for new situations, I would’ve had so many more meltdowns.
I hate to be the one to have to say, '#NotAllAutistics' but hey, someone’s gotta do it.

The translation felt awkward, but maybe that’s just the way Japanese to English translations end up. It felt very similar to the English translations of Marie Kondō’s books.
And maybe they translated it word-for-word to stay true to Naoki’s thoughts, but I felt like it could’ve been edited better. On page 149, he writes: “One of the biggest misunderstandings you have about us is your belief that our feelings aren’t as subtle and complex as yours.” Again, such a generalization. It would have been better to explain that autistic people not feeling as deeply is an autism stereotype. Just that changes the entire feeling of the sentence.

Most of the writing is very simple and straight-forward, as you can expect when the author is writing a book using an Alphabet Grid (the letters of the alphabet + numbers on a piece of paper that Naoki points to). And those simple parts sound very realistic coming from the mind of a 13-year-old, autistic or not. But then there are these weirdly poetic parts that don’t feel like they were written by the same person. Almost like David Mitchell wrote them… But that’s a theory for a different day.

This is what David Mitchell said about the translation process: "KA Yoshida did the heavy lifting from the Japanese into English, and in a sense I provided the stylistic icing on the cake. But I also needed to respect the fact that it was a 13-year-old boy writing, not a 44-year-old novelist, so it couldn't sound as if it was written for the New Yorker."

The absolute worst part was page 151, where Naoki Higashida (or is it David Mitchell?…) answers the question, “What are your thoughts on autism itself?”

“I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization. Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and selfish planet-wrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists.
Autism has somehow arisen out of this. Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travellers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure.”

Sorry, but I call bullshit. Autistic people aren’t here to teach neurotypicals anything. This is romanticization and I don’t like it. Also, can confirm that autistic people are not in fact time travellers.

If you want to learn about autism, you’re not going to learn much from this book. Instead, Find An Autistic Person Near You! That’s always the best way to learn. And if you don’t know any, there are plenty of autistic people from all over the spectrum who would love to help you understand. Me included.

All my other recommendations are about autism in women specifically, so if you’re interested in that, pick up Rudy Simone’s Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome or Dominique Dumortier’s From Another Planet: Autism from Within.

And if you want even more reasons why this book is problematic, here's a good article: No, autistic children are not the spiritual saviours of mankind.
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