by Naoki Higashida
You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki 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.
Discussion questions from SOMN
- What new insights have you gained by reading Naoki Higashida’s book? What surprised you most about his depiction of what it is like to be autistic?
- What messages from the author resonated with you the most? Did any of his advice or insight relate to your experiences? In what ways?
- What was the author’s relationship with nature, and how did that show up throughout the book?
Classroom activities from SOMN
- Watch this production from the National Theatre of Scotland inspired by the book and have a classroom discussion about the project
- Naoki uses a number of devices to assist in communication. In groups or individually, research communication assistive technologies. Share what you learn with the class and make a timeline of these technologies. Reflect as a group or individually on how these technologies have impacted communities, families, and individuals. Include your school community in your reflection.