Book Review: The Reason I Jump

I am sure that all Moms must ask themselves occasionally: “I wonder why my child does that?” But for those of you who are the parent of a child on the spectrum, it is a question that we frequently ask ourselves… I know I do.

bookThat is was why I was excited when I read a review of The Reason I Jump, which is written by a then-thirteen-year-old boy with autism, Naoki Higashida. Naoki uses an alphabet grid to construct phrases and thoughts that he previously was unable to express.

“Great,” I thought, “I might get some insight into why Ryan exhibits some of his behaviors. Perhaps, there might be some similarities.”

So, I read the book and found it fascinating. The format of the book is that Naoki answers questions he is frequently asked about autism. Some of the questions which were very relevant to me included:

Why do you do things that you shouldn’t even when you’ve been told a million times not to?

Naoki explains that often he has forgotten about being reprimanded about topic previously and feels terrible that he has, yet again, done what he’s been asked not to do.

I see the same pattern with Ryan. At times, he will exhibit behaviors that he knows are not acceptable, but repeats it again and again. He knows he should not, and he is remorseful that this has occurred.

What are flashback memories like?

Naoki tells us that he has lots of pleasant memories, but flashback memories are always bad ones. Out of the blue, Naoki may burst into tears or start panicking, which he explains is because the memory causes him to feel the same helpless feeling that he experienced then.

Recently, I wrote a blog asking Ryan the question: tell me what you remember growing up. Ryan related many negative memories and, in fact, no positive ones. I couldn’t understand why he only focused on the negative, but reading this answer gave me great insight.

Naoki says in his Afterword that he used to ask himself: what will happen to me if my autism isn’t cured? Although he used to worry quite a bit about his future, today he says: “If all of you can grasp the truth about us, we are handed a ray of hope. However hard an autistic life is, however sad it can be, so long as there is hope we can stick at it. And when the light of hope shines on all of this world, then our future will be connected with your future. That’s what I want, above all.”

That, too, is what I want, for Ryan as well as for all children and adults with disabilities.

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