The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
by Naoki Higashida
translated by K.A. Yoshida and David Mitchell
This book was written by a Japanese boy who has autism. He couldn\’t speak, but learned to use an alphabet board and later a computer- touching one character at a time- to write out his thoughts and responses to people\’s questions. It\’s clear that in spite of his difficulty with speech and sensory input, he\’s quite intelligent and perceptive. His body just doesn\’t do what he wants it to, most of the time. I didn\’t expect the format though- it\’s not written as a narrative (except for a few very short stories) here and there- but instead a series of question-and-answer: things like why do you echo questions back at the asker? or why do you write letters in the air? or Do you have a sense of time? and of course What\’s the reason you jump? This was interesting- very intriguing to learn some of the reasons for what seem odd behaviors to most of us, and others were honestly surprising to me. There were a few things he simply couldn\’t explain, but he was honest about it. It\’s mostly about the difference in perceptions, in how his brain processes things. It\’s also a huge plea for understanding and patience: he says more than once in the book- I know I do this over and over again, but please don\’t give up on me. Please remember that I\’m human. He speaks for himself in particular, and for autistic people in general- noting clearly the cases in which he feels differently than other autistic people. I was reminded strongly of a book I read years ago called I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes– in that both are about a person who is unable to communicate until they have a tool which gives them a voice.
The introduction written by David Mitchell is particularly thoughtful. (There\’s a very good article by Mitchell here (his son also has autism) including some excerpts from this book). I got nearly as much out of that as from the body of text itself. I also really like the illustrations by Kai and Sunny. This book was written over a decade ago, so I was immediately curious to see what else Higashida may have written since: Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 sounds like this is more about his actual experiences so I really want to read it too.
Borrowed from a family member.
Rating: 3/5 161 pages, 2007
Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
Farm Lane Books Blog
I usually only read fiction, but this one sounded really interesting so I added it to my list. Thanks!
Whaat an interesting format. This sounds like a worthwhile read–definitely a different perspective worth reading.