The Reason I Jump was written by a 13 year old Japanese boy with autism. David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green, has a son with autism, and as he explains in the forward to this book, the first thing a parent does when their child has been diagnosed with autism is, research the hell out of it. While most things written about autism come from either the parents of affected children or doctors, Mitchell stumbled across this first hand account by Naoki Higashida, and had it translated and published to help others in similar situations.
“To give the short version, I’ve learnt 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. For us, you see, having autism is normal — so we can’t know for sure what your ‘normal’ is even like. But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I’m not sure how much it matters whether we’re normal or autistic.”
The book is fascinating. Naoki communicates by indicating words and sounds on a grid, so one can only imagine the painstakingly difficult work that went into this creation. He tries to explain how it feels to be autistic by answering questions that people often ask him (or autistics in general), like why sounds bother them, or why they repeat things. He comes across as very intent on explaining himself to people, in order to change how they view others. I feel like I learned a lot, not only about autism, but about how to be emphatic in general.