Sometimes my AUsome kiddo would burst into tears. He would cry and repeatedly say, “I’m sorry, Mom.” It is distressing to watch and listen to your kiddo cry and unable to understand what made him upset, let alone help him cope with whatever is distressing him. I thought I would never be able to understand what exactly goes through my child’s mind. I think like all parents with kids on the spectrum, we can really only guess what they are thinking and how they feel.
Then today I happened to find The Reason I Jump by Naomi Higashida. A book that was written by a Japanese autistic child when he was only thirteen years old. This book is presented as a series of questions about Autism that Higashida answers from his perspective. Higashida used an alphabet grid to answer these questions. By the time I got to the fourth question, I was already holding back tears. I felt that I was gaining insight into my son’s mind through Higashida words.
I have attempted to read other books on Autism but could never get past the introduction because there was what I perceived to be a sort haughtiness from the author. Many books are written from the parent’s perspective or the book is really about super high functioning Autism. And to be honest, how does reading the history of Autism help me when my child is throwing a f-ing tantrum at the grocery store?!
Higashida explains how autism affects his body but also his self-perception. Higashida explains that people with autism just can’t control themselves and some behaviors are soothing, and they are aware that it does cause distress to those around them. He repeatedly begs us to be patient and keep trying.
Higashida also includes pieces of his own writings. Higashida’s pieces of fiction and his insights on Autism demonstrate the potential of children on the spectrum. It is truly amazing that this wisdom existed in a non-verbal child who was only thirteen when it was written!
Higashida does talk about something that now that has me rethinking how I parent my child and how others are teaching him. Higashida explains that he doesn’t like visual schedules. Visual schedules is something that my son’s team wants to implement but Higashida explains how they are actually more harmful than helpful. But again Higashida does mention visuals may help others on the spectrum but in his experience they were restrictive. I don’t think Higasuida’s words should be taken as a manual on how to approach therapy. I feel his words are more for us as the caregivers to develop more empathy towards our children on the Spectrum.
I think this is a fascinating read not just for parents of kids with Autism but for teachers, aides, therapists, the whole world! I wish I would have read this first, so that I can enjoy knowing a little bit more how my son’s minds works and to be more understanding of his atypical behaviors. Higashida words left me with a recharged determination to not give up on my son but also hope that my son won’t give up on me.