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The Reason I Jump: Insights on autism and communication

As I write this, I’m keenly aware that communication is one of the most common, and perhaps most difficult, things we do. That’s why I was both humbled and heartened when I read about Naoki Higashida’s book The Reason I Jump on Biographile today.

The book is described as a “stunningly clear-eyed look into the experiences of a boy with autism.” But, as explained in the review, many of the themes Higashida addresses in his book, “reveal truths about communication and connection that all humans should contemplate.”

In the Biographile interview, Higashida, who was 13 when he wrote the book, describes hard-to-grasp, prickly concepts such as communicating with compassion, and why good communication is hard work but worth the effort, with bell-like clarity. I cannot wait to get my hands on the book.

From the review:

Some people tend to assume that individuals with all kinds of disabilities have a less than mature understanding of language. But in many cases, even when speech and language production are impaired, understanding is not. Higashida explains to readers that baby talk is disheartening for him to hear as a young man. He encourages people not to talk down to people with autism, or anyone. “True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self respect,” he writes, revealing not only an expert command of language but also wisdom beyond his years.

To share his experiences and his fiction with the world, and even to communicate basic needs to his family and caretakers, he painstakingly spells out the words on alphabet grids while others transcribe. He admits learning to communicate independently was hard work and at times, he felt “utterly beaten” by the process. But, Higashida reminds us, “to live my life as a human being, nothing is more important than being able to express myself […] it’s about getting across to other people what I need and what I need them to understand.”

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Previously: More Stanford findings on the autistic brainA mother’s story on what she learned from her autistic sonUsing music to improve communication skills in children with neurodevelopmental disorders and Stanford study reveals why human voices are less rewarding for kids with autism

2 Responses to “ The Reason I Jump: Insights on autism and communication ”

  1. Renee Says:

    I would love to hear a clinician’s point of view of how they view the book and if there are any particular insights they have gained from reading “The Reason I Jump.”

    We have just embarked on our own very personal journey, after my daughter of 4 has just been diagnosed and it helps to know that we are not alone.

  2. Holly MacCormick Says:

    Dear Renee,

    Thank you for your interest in this story and for your excellent suggestion! I love the idea of getting a clinician’s point of view and am working on this story idea now. I’ll post a note here as soon as the story is complete.

    Regarding your daughter, you most certainly are *not* alone. There are many people that are on a journey similar to yours. You may find it helpful to enter “autism” in the search bar on the right side of the screen to see the stories related to this topic. You may also wish to look at some of the resources available at Stanford’s Autism Center at Packard Children’s Hospital.

    I have family members with autism too, so this particular topic is close to my heart.

    I wish you and your family all the very best.

    Sincerely,
    Holly

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