The author of The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida, is a 21 year old who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. At the age of thirteen, Higashida wanted to share the inner voice of someone with autism with the world. Using a Japanese alphabet chart and technology, he answers many questions about living with autism that parents, educators, and friends often ask about their loved ones with autism. An advocate, motivational speaker, and author of several books, Higashida shares his inspirational thoughts about living with autism.
After working with people who have a variety of disabilities over the past few years, I was very thankful to come across The Reason I Jump. I have spent a lot of time researching and studying people with disabilities from learning about the genetics of Down’s syndrome in high school to visiting programs for people with disabilities in Israel. It was refreshing and helpful to read from the perspective of a person with a disability instead of the many articles I’ve read by parents, educators, doctors, and more. Higashida gives honest insights about what it is like to live with autism, expressing the ups and downs of his disability.
On page 111 of his book, Higashida says, “I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization…Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways.” Further, he talks about the many questions that arise when thinking about autism like visual schedules, connection to nature, tantrums, communication, and much, much more. Higashida does not wish to be “normal,” he confesses. He says, “I’ve learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness…so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I’m not really sure how much it matters whether we’re normal or autistic” (45).
A truly touching and fascinating book sharing the inner voice of Higashida, is a must read. It enhanced my understanding of autism and, further, how to better communicate with people with disabilities. Answering questions I have never felt comfortable asking or didn’t even think of, The Reason I Jump taught me so much about creating connections and relationships with people with disabilities and how to treat them as equals in society. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Dance, move, and empower,