cover of The Reason I JumpThe Reason I Jump – The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. By Naoki Higashida, translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell.

The Reason I Jump is a rare look inside the mind of someone with severe autism. The book takes the form of a Q&A, with the author, Naoki Higashida, answering common questions about autism. The questions range from “why do autistic people talk so loudly and weirdly?” to “what’s the reason you jump”. Some answers go more into depth than others, as the author struggles to understand some of his behavior and cannot compare it to a “normal” person because he doesn’t know how they think, but all the answers are informative. Interspersed among the questions and answers are short fiction stories by the author, which tell his experience from a different perspective.

I found the book very helpful for understanding how someone with autism might experience the world. From sensory overload to problems with language and impulse control, the author explains to the best of his abilities how he sees the world. It is also a pretty quick read – at 176 pages, with many illustrations interspersed, I got through the whole book in 90 minutes. I felt the time was well spent for this illuminating book.

One problem that I had with the book is that Higashida often answers questions with “we” and “us” instead of “I” – he is answering for everyone with autism, not just for himself. As autism is a spectrum disorder, with many different traits, I do not feel that he can speak for every autistic person. This also might be problematic if a reader is not very familiar with autism, as they might take his word as gospel and treat other autistic people as Higashida wants to be treated, which might not be the same for all people with autism.

Overall, The Reason I Jump is a quick and illuminating look at an autistic person’s mind.

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