Happy National Autism Awareness Month!
And to celebrate, here a one-of-a-kind memoir, written by a thirteen-year-old boy with autism, that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine.
For people with autism and for anyone who knows someone on the autism spectrum
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki Higashida answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
This book begins with a lengthy introduction by co-translator David Mitchell. While using a lot of big words that were grating and didn’t seem necessary, he goes on about how heroic autistic people are for living with autism on a daily basis and how much this book helped him to understand his own autistic son. If you are someone with autism, feel free to skip the introduction. It’s more for the parents of autistic children.
According to David Mitchell, most Autism help books come in four categories:
- Doctrinaire spin that contain usable ideas, but are depressing
- Academic research theory, not helpful
- Confession memoir, usually written by a parent of an autistic child, aren’t written to be useful
- Autism Autobiography, written by insiders on the autism spectrum, but usually written by adults who have already worked things out
What makes Naoki’s book stand out is that it’s written from the perspective of a young person on the autism spectrum. Why read a book written by someone who pretends to be an expert but who knows nothing about living with autism when you can get real answers from someone who has lived with it their whole life.
The story layout is like a FAQ of questions that people have asked Naoki along with a few of his short stories. Throughout his explanations, Naoki continually claims that all autistic children/people feel the way he does. That is not true. Everyone with autism is different, but they do share many traits. Everything he says relates to some people with autism, but it doesn’t relate to all people with autism.
The overall lesson to take away from this story is when it comes to working this anyone with autism, learn to be patience and don’t give up on us.