Got to be honest here. The reason I picked the book up is its front cover. I opened it only to find out what the contents were, and oh, was i pleasantly surprised.
As a team at T.Ware, we collectively read a whole lot of books. The books range from those about start-ups to languages to books on Autism and other SPDs – and that’s where we really, really read a lot. We’ve read books on neuroscience, weighted therapy, family stories and the list goes on. But this book, The Reason I Jump, is the first book that any of us has read, that is written from the perspective of a 13 year old diagnosed with Autism. It could quite possibly be one of the most illuminating reads I’ve had in the longest time.
A little disclaimer before this begins proper – I was a bit skeptical about how a 13 year old boy could be so articulate and almost poetic about what’s going on inside his head. I am therefore, going to grudgingly attribute it to the translation done by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell. This however, in no way discounts the main points and issues highlighted in the book though.
Naoki used an alphabet grid his mum created to record his thoughts before his thoughts disappeared. In the book, he answers questions that anyone who has not been diagnosed with Autism but has interacted with people who are, is probably aching to ask – why do you move your arms around? Why are you obsessive about certain things? Why do you take ages to answer questions? And of course, Why do you jump?
Naoki gave me a peek into his mind, and perhaps his mind is a window to the minds of others diagnosed with Autism too. The issue underlying it all is his lack of control over his own body and how that has triggered his desire for predictability and order – the more he can anticipate or get used to something, the better his body seems to coordinate with his mind. Isn’t that a difficult thing? Life is full of unpredictability and dealing with this requires us to be adaptable and always ready to make the best of change. As it is, not all of us who aren’t diagnosed with Autism can do this. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for someone who has much difficulty doing just that; but it’s probably much tougher than an extremely well done steak.
This book was certainly an eye-opener. As Autism diagnoses are increasing all over the world, I think it’s only prudent and fair that we take the initiative to understand the situation that others are in a little better. With more understanding comes more empathy and possibly, hopefully, more thought on how we can make the world a better place.