I’m continuing the discussion here today because The Reason I Jump is an important book. Naoki Hagashida, at age 13, answered questions about autism from his viewpoint, and while his experiences are not the same as probably anyone else’s on the spectrum, his thoughts provide insight, and provoke thought, neither of which can be bad for those of us who desperately want a glimpse into the minds of our children.
Question 32 asks about what those with autism see first when they look at something. Naoki reinforces what I have heard in many places, that those on the spectrum see the trees first, and then the forest; the details before the whole. He also says they tend to “drown” in the particularly striking characteristics of those parts, and it tends to be harder to see anything else. If someone you love is on the spectrum, you will have, no doubt, experienced the attention to detail. The Boy is always drawing my attention to some small part that I never would have noticed without his help.
Question 33 asks about appropriate clothing, and why this can be a struggle for those in the spectrum. Naoki says they know and understand why we wear the things we wear, but that they “forget” what is appropriate, and how to make themselves more comfortable. He also explains that those who choose to wear the same thing each day (we have had our battles with this, for sure!) feel like their clothes are an “extension of our bodies,” and a guard against changing situations.
Question 34 asks about perception of time. Naoki says, “the fact that we can’t actually feel it makes us nervous,” and this makes perfect sense to me. Timers help many on the spectrum have a sense of passing time, especially those that are visual in nature. And because the future is uncertain, it is a cause for a great deal of anxiety. This is one of those answers in this book that just “clicked” for me, a true “A-ha!” moment.
Again, this book is a source of inspiration and wonder for me, and may be the closest I’ll ever get to reading The Boy’s own mind. Not every person on the spectrum is the same, but these answers are food for a great deal of thought, and foster greater understanding and patience between me and my son. I highly recommend this book.