― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Although this is one of my favorite quotes and perhaps I am somewhat inclined to consider another person’s point of view, it is quite uncommon for me to have the privilege of glimpsing my world as another person might perceive it. I read a book this week that gave me that distinct privilege. The book is called The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. It is written by a 13 year old Japanese boy who has Autism. I can only speak for myself but watching children with Autism baffled and confused me. I always felt like somehow I had to reach them but I didn’t know how to connect. So I would smile and wave, and get away from them as soon as possible. As a teacher, I worked with wonderful children who were more functional on the autism spectrum and I learned to love them intensely, but what of the children who were more extreme?
Naoki’s connection with nature as a friend rings true in each of us as humans. It is why we love to walk in gardens. Hike in the mountains. Smile when a butterfly flutters though our lives. This book will help you connect with Naoki, empathize with Naoki and value Naoki. If you want to “….climb inside of his shin and walk around in it”, I highly recommend the experience.