“True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect. That’s what I think, anyway.” Naoki Higashida

Naoki is thirteen. He asks “Can you imagine how your life would be if you couldn’t talk?” He explains that he wondered “What am I going to be, if my autism can never be cured? When I was little, this question was a big, big worry. I used to be afraid that as long as I was autistic, I’d never be able to live properly as a human being. There were so many things I couldn’t do like other people, and having to apologise day in, day out totally drained me of hope.”

 

Naoki’s writing is full of hope. He says “From your point of view, the world of autism must look like a deeply mysterious place.” He helps to build a bridge between his world and our preconceived ideas. In his touching mix of memoir and frequently-asked-questions sprinkled with fable-like stories, he reflects on questions such as “why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?”, “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “what’s the reason you jump?”

 

The reason I jump: one boy’s voice from the silence of autism, by Naoki Higashida – written when he was 13. One of the new books added to the school library from a national collection offering support for young people.

 

Reviewed by Helen Wharam; Cranbrook Healthy New Town Programme Coordinator