While I can understand that this might be a very comforting book to parents of an autistic child, I’ve had some reservations about The Reason I Jump. First, I don’t know about anyone else, but I knew nothing about myself at age 13. Anything I thought I knew, I was more or less wrong about. Has Naoki Higashida spent more time than the average kid in self-reflection? Maybe. Second, it’s acknowledged that autism a really wide thing, encompassing a lot of thought patterns and behaviors. It feels weird to me that “we” is used so much. The book isn’t called The Reason We Jump. It’s cool that this young man is giving us a look into his world, but I’m pretty sure his experiences aren’t universal for everyone on the autism spectrum.
On the other hand, there’s often a refreshing “Why? Because.” vibe that is sort of universal. I’d like to imagine that Higashida has as long of a list of things non-autistic people do that are as equally confounding. I mean, why do we like to hold hands anyway?
I’m glad that “normal” was acknowledged—that, for Higashida, autism is normal. The thought experiment in the intro wouldn’t work because all us neurotypical people would be too distracted by our losses to know what autism is like.
Interesting points about certainty—that the same comfy clothes, the same commercials, are touchstones of certainty.
Quote I wish were in the book’s “Popular Highlights” on Kindle:
I think it’s very difficult for you to properly get your heads around just how hard it is for us to express what we’re feeling.
Is the tone of the book what you expected, from someone with autism and/or from a thirteen year old boy? Tying into my earlier comment, Higashida seems very self-aware for 13 and maybe the encompassing “we” comes from that youth. The only other tone thing I found a jarring was some of the England-English slag: “told off”, “hacks me off”, etc.. These, I am assuming, are due to his translators.
Have you learned anything that has surprised you so far? I know quite a few adults on the spectrum and have considered autism a lot. It’s been interesting getting a different perspective on things, but nothing has surprised me.
Do you think that you would interact with someone who has autism differently after reading this book? Probably not, but I am a reserved person and, generally, I try to treat everyone evenly. When dealing with kids, I’m more likely to speak to them on an adult level anyway. That said, I have no idea how I’d deal with a raucous child that I couldn’t communicate with. I know I’m not the most patient person.
David Mitchell says that the problems of socialization and communication people with autism display “are not symptoms of autism but consequences.” What does he mean exactly…what is the difference as Mitchell sees it? Many of the difficulties are due to how people without autism deal with people with autism. Lack of patience. The assumption that “Oh, he just wants to be left alone” or “She doesn’t understand anyway”. Or that everyone wants all the same things we do, which just isn’t the case.