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'When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find peace of mind is waiting there. And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you – George Harrison

The Reason I Jump

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Nigel Summerley reviews an extraordinary book by a remarkable author

The Reason I JumpWhat does it take to have a fresh and insightful view of the world? Perhaps a condition that the majority of us regard as “abnormal”.

‘The Reason I Jump’ (Sceptre, 2013) is a beautiful little book, written in the most arduous and difficult circumstances by Naoki Higashida, a 13-year-old boy with autism.

Its purpose is to tell you what it is like to be autistic – from the inside. Naoki’s words have tremendous impact, not only from their content but also from the fact that he is a great writer: enlightened, poetic and deeply moving.

He explains how autistic people see things differently, being drawn into details first and appreciating them before seeing the whole: “When a colour is vivid or a shape is eye-catching, then that’s the detail that claims our attention, and then our hearts kind of drown in it… Sometimes I actually pity you for not being able to see the beauty of the world in the same way we do. Really, our vision of the world can be incredible, just incredible… Every single thing as its own unique beauty. People with autism get to cherish this beauty, as if it’s a kind of blessing given to us.”

He is equally compelling when he talks about the down sides of autism: “I know I have lots of pleasant memories, but my flashbacks are always bad ones, and from out of the blue I get incredibly distressed, burst into tears or just start panicking…

“So when this happens, just let us have a good cry and then we can get back on our feet. Maybe the racket we make will get on your nerves… but please try to understand what we’re going through, and stay with us.”

And there is more on this theme: “The people who are looking after us may say, ‘Minding these kids is really hard work, you know!’ But for us – who are always causing the problems and are useless at pretty much everything we try to do – you can’t begin to imagine how miserable and sad we get.

“I ask you… not to stress yourselves out because of us. When you do this, it feels as if you’re denying any value at all that our lives may have – and that saps the spirit we need to soldier on.”

Naoki is neither normal nor abnormal – simply a remarkable human being with a beautiful voice.

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One thought on “The Reason I Jump

  1. yes, our vision of the world is unique. as a child, i was hypnotized and euphoric by nature, animals, music, and swaying treetops. i still love these things more than anything. for other people, they’re just the background for the real action.
    i dont believe neurotypicals enjoy patting cats/dogs like i do, the loving look in their eyes and the silky touch of their fur (sensory issues, love it). if i have that, i dont need anything else.
    i’m not sure whether depression in autism is because of the aspie life with bullying and loneliness, or just the way the autistic mind works. they say anxiety and depression go together, and many people on the spectrum suffer from general anxiety, so i guess it’s partly how our minds works.
    minding me wasnt hard work at all. i was the one kid who never asked for attention, never wanted anything. of course i roamed the house at night because i couldnt sleep, but i didnt wake anyone. i was one easy little aspie.

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