What does it feel like to have autism?  

You may know someone who has it. You may raise a child who is autistic. You may teach children with autism all day long. But unless you actually have it, you will never know how it feels. And one of the most frustrating characteristics of this disease is that it can be very hard — if not downright impossible — for those who suffer from it to describe their symptoms. But a new book, "The Reason I Jump," by Naoki Higashida might just change that. In "Jump," Naoki, a very charming boy with autism, lets us inside the autistic mind, describing how the world looks and feels to a child with the disease.

Unable to speak, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct his words and thoughts. In the book, he answers 58 questions that he thought people might be curious about, such as “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” "Why do you like spinning?" “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” "Would you like to be 'normal'?" and “What’s the reason you jump?”

(Naoki’s answer to that last question: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”)

Naoki was 13 when he wrote the book back in 2007. It was widely popular in Japan, where it was published. But it has only now been introduced to an American audience through the efforts of translator David Mitchell, the author of "Cloud Atlas" and father of an autistic child.

With disarming honesty and moving insights, Naoki shares in "Jump" what it feels like to have autism. It is a quick-read, and a must-read for anyone who ever wanted a closer look into the autistic mind.

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