Written by a 13 year-old autistic boy, THE REASON I JUMP will open your mind to a whole new world. If you’ve ever met anyone with autism, you know that sometimes they behave a bit strangely. Naoki—who tapped out his sentences letter by letter because he is largely unable to communicate with speech—explains what he thinks, how he feels, and why normal life is so challenging for him.
Often he feels like has no control over his body, for example. That’s maddening enough, but then he also cannot tell others what’s going on. What makes everything worse is that he hates to upset the people he loves. “We can put up with our own hardships okay,” he writes, “but the thought that our lives are the source of other people’s unhappiness, that’s plain unbearable.” As I read this book, I kept thinking: His capacity for empathy enlarges our own.
I started dog-earring my favorite pages, but then I found that I was folding over nearly every corner. This book is not all doom and gloom, either. Naoki’s love of beauty and nature leap off the page. He explains why he loves going for walks: “However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug here inside our hearts.” His description of how he sees the world is simply remarkable; he’ll see the details of an object jumping out at him before the whole image floats up into focus. Here is how he describes it:
Every single thing has its own unique beauty. People with autism get to cherish this beauty, as if it’s a kind of blessing given to us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we can never be completely lonely. We may look like we’re not with anyone, but we’re always in the company of friends.
I want to say thank you to Naoki (and also to KA Yoshida and David Mitchell, who brought this book forward, translating it from the Japanese). This book is truly a gift.