I just finished reading Naoki Higashida’s book, “The Reason I Jump”, as translated by David Mitchell. Naoki is both charming and highly direct, and the book is a very short read.
He goes into detail about a whole host of autistic behaviours, and why he does them. The only extra that I wish was available for readers is a table of contents or index, which would make it so much easier for people to find information again when they wish to share it with others.
Now in his late teens, Naoki is barely verbal, having done what I did, starting with imitating commercials, jingles, songs, and canned conversations to help him get through social situations with way more information flying around than he could possibly process in time to respond “appropriately”. He mostly uses a keyboard to communicate, and has been increasingly able to interact with the people and information around him.
Every time I read a book by another autistic, no matter the degree of challenge, I am always struck by the similarities around what helps us, and what hurts us. Naoki’s comments about nature struck particularly deeply, given my own positive experiences with trees — throughout my life, but especially as a young child when nature gave me the energy of support and respite when it felt as though everything else was attacking me.
If you’re looking for another window into why the autistics you support either at home or at work are engaging in the symptoms and behaviours you see, I highly recommend Naoki’s work. Naoki left me smiling, but he didn’t have the science background to explain WHY he likely felt the way he did. Figuring this out is something that has been a main driver in my life (like happy cows for Temple Grandin, like Pokémon for Satoshi Tajirir, or like astrophysics for Jacob Barnett).
For a downloadable, indexed, audio and video explanation of why we autistics do what we do, and what that tells you about how to help us recover that’s easier to share with others, go here.
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