I discovered this little treasure while listening to the Radio 4 book of the week.
“The Reason I Jump” is a book written by a 13 yr old Japanese boy, Naoki Higashida, with severe autism and significant communication difficulties.
Unable to speak fluently, Naoki spelled out his book, one letter at a time by pointing to an alphabet board. The original Japanese text was translated by a couple who themselves were parents of an autistic son and who were keen to learn anything that might help them understand and assist their own child.
The result is a remarkable insight into the rich, meaningful, creative and self-aware inner world of a 13 year old boy who presents as difficult, disinterested and withdrawn on the outside.
The book consists of a dialogue in the form of answers to specific questions and the translated text – or at least the notes I made while listening – contains gems like the following:
Would you like to be normal? If there was a medicine that would make us normal, I bet our parents and our teachers would be ecstatic. Living with special needs is just so relentless. I used to think if somebody developed a medicine that could cure autism it would be the best thing if I could live my life as a normal person, but now I might choose to stay as I am. I’ve learnt that every human being born with or without disabilities needs to strive to do their best and it is this striving for happiness that is the happiness. For us people born with autism, this is normal. As long as we can learn to love ourselves I’m not sure how important it is whether we are normal or autistic.
From the mouths of babes and infants eh?!
How much can each of us learn from this?
Our intention to be happy is, in itself a source of happiness.
That the goal of a happy life is to be the best you can be and learning to love yourself is what it’s all about.
If you want to be inspired do read this yourself.
If you know anyone who knows or cares for someone with autism, this could be one of the most precious resources you could ever share with them!