THE REASON I JUMP by Naoki Higashida

16113737This book is a non-fiction account of what it is like to be autistic, written by a 13 year old Japanese boy in 2005.  The young man didn’t and still doesn’t speak, but his mother created a word and symbol grid to which he could point to make words and sentences to communicate.  Although he can now use a computer, and maintains a blog, he finds the grid helps him to maintain focus better.

The book is translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell.  Yes, the David Mitchel of The Bone Clocks and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet , and The Cloud Atlas, among others.  Mitchell has a child on the autism spectrum, and has written a longish introduction explaining a bit about autism.

The book is divided into 58 short chapters, or questions, such as Why do you memorize train timetables and calendars? and Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks? and Why do you repeat certain actions again and again?  It is interesting and heartbreaking at the same time,  but is certainly a testament to the indomitable desire of the human mind to communicate and have social interaction.

And just for the record, no, I don’t think autism is caused by vaccinations.

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