Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell
|Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A young man with non-verbal autism describes his daily struggles and unique perspective on the world in this sequel to The Reason I Jump.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2017|
Naoki Higashida was only 13 years old when he wrote the international best-seller The Reason I Jump. The book was popular because it gave a rare glimpse into the workings of the autistic mind, as told from the unique perspective of a teenager with non-verbal autism. Naoki communicates by using an alphabet grid, or by tracing letters on the palm of a transcriber. Despite this slow and laborious method of writing, he has published several books in his native Japan, and manages to give public presentations to raise awareness of his condition. Fall Down 7 Times Get up 8 reintroduces us to Naoki as a young adult in his 20s and explains how his perspectives on life have changed since writing his first book.
Sadly, Naoki's work has polarised public opinion. Sceptics, when reading the eloquent and insightful words of this talented young man, have questioned whether someone who appears to be so profoundly disabled could have written such deep and thoughtful prose. On the other end of the scale, there are those who consider him to be some sort of guru. Naoki himself doesn't claim to be a guru, but it is clear that he is a remarkable young man with a wisdom beyond his years. Perhaps it comes from the fact that he spends much of his life silently observing others, taking everything in.
Naoki is a likeable individual, and writes with searing honesty about his struggles with autism. He explains why it is so difficult for him to speak, as skills we take for granted are a huge puzzle to him. In one beautifully-written chapter, he explains his delight at being able to say the words carnation...buy, to his carer so that he could buy a single flower for his mother on Mother's Day. Such simple achievements are major milestones for Naoki and we cheer along with him.
I have a son with autism and it is incredibly hard to understand how their mind works at times. That is why this book, like the one before it, is so useful to us as autism parents. It is giving our children a voice too. One chapter that particularly moved me was Chapter 53: Reprimands, in which Naoki explains how he would like to be treated after he has a meltdown. The words touched my heart and I intend to apply the wise advice given.
In this book, Naoki also tries his hand at poetry and fiction. His short story, The Journey, is deeply poignant and moving, with a twist that packs a real punch. I'd love to read more of his fiction, as it is unlike anything I've read before.
It was pure joy to read this book and discover what an inspirational young man Naoki has become. May he continue to write many more books and help to change the world's perspective on autism, particularly the non-verbal type. How many more people like Naoki are locked away in their own bodies, unable to express how they really feel? Maybe if we stopped to listen to them, we would learn a great deal from them.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell at Amazon.com.
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