Sent to me by Sceptre in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 11/07/17
Format: Hardback, 288pp
Summed up in a word: Perceptive
Oh it is good to be back with Naoki Higashida! If there is anyone should approach the vastly important subject of Neuro-Diversity, it is Naoki. The Reason I Jump was a major insight into what it is to be Autistic. Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 is a journal of what it is like to live with Autism. Naoki is older, wiser and more at peace with his condition, more focused on getting on with his life and raising awareness about Autism and those who live with it day-in-day-out. I loved this book, it is immensely quotable! I certainly need a volume of Naoki quotes to get me through harder days. Naoki Higashida is a talented writer, a humble human being and pioneer of diversity. Full review below.
Naoki Higashida met international success with THE REASON I JUMP, a revelatory account of life as a thirteen-year-old with non-verbal autism. Now he offers an equally illuminating insight into autism from his perspective as a young adult. In concise, engaging pieces, he shares his thoughts and feelings on a broad menu of topics ranging from school experiences to family relationships, the exhilaration of travel to the difficulties of speech. Aware of how mystifying his behaviour can appear to others, Higashida describes the effect on him of such commonplace things as a sudden change of plan, or the mental steps he has to take simply to register that it’s raining. Throughout, his aim is to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage those with disabilities to be seen as people, not as problems.
With an introduction by David Mitchell, Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight includes a dreamlike short story Higashida wrote for this edition. Both moving and of practical use, the book opens a window into the mind of an inspiring young man who meets the challenges of autism with tenacity and good humour. However often he falls down, he always gets back up.
The Reason I Jump was a young boy’s open account about what it is to be Autistic and a plea for understanding and consideration. Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight is a young man’s story about living with his condition and promoting ‘neuro-diversity’ all around the world. I will never tire of reading Naoki’s work, he is a pioneer in the quest for empathy and wider-comprehension of what being Autistic actually consists of. Ultimately Naoki wants to raise awareness that, though Autism is a daily challenge, those living with the condition are still vibrant souls who just want to be a part of the world. Fall Down made me cry, laugh, smile, cheer, contemplate and most importantly it makes me want to learn more.
Fall Down begins with another moving introduction by author David Mitchell. The insights that Naoki has provided for him has changed his relationship with his own Autistic son forever. David gives us an overview of Naoki’s progress in the world and how his work is changing the way everyone is looking at Autism as a condition. Then we get straight back into Naoki’s writing. Painstakingly written over the course of a decade, Naoki uses a qwerty keyboard/chart to write word by word. Other than a few words here and there, Naoki has non-verbal autism, a condition he has now come to terms with and has began to appreciate to a certain degree. He still wishes he could easily communicate with us ‘neuro-typicals’ but he acknowledges that it will never happen and is aiming to move on with his life and spend his life raising awareness for Autism. Naoki is gaining his freedoms one step at a time.
If you have read The Reason I Jump then you know roughly what to expect. There isn’t a Q&A format this time around, instead it is topical and covers the many improvements/challenges that Naoki faces day-in-day-out. Naoki has certain grown up a lot since his last book and it was so good to be back with his admirable outlook on life. Naoki has Autism, but he is one of the most (*deep breath*) honest, pragmatic, realistic, charming, thoughtful, empathetic, productive, brave, sensible and encouraging individuals I will ever had the fortune to experience. If you think I am over-exaggerating then I implore you to read at least one of his books and see what you think.
In terms of the content explored within, Naoki runs us through the various impediments/challenges that he faces with non-verbal Autism. From communication, behaviour, sensory, self-preservation, self-control, emotions, fixations, interactions, prejudices, recognition and frustrations. Naoki largely approaches these subjects from a positive angle. Using his unique, charming and honest writing to explain and inform; never excusing or apologising. All Naoki wants to do is connect with the reader on a human level, two minds on the level-playing fields of the pages of a book.
Overall I highly recommend this to everyone. Naoki Higashida is an author that I will vehemently support as a reviewer. My objective opinion on Fall Down is that is successfully helps people to understand Autism on a personal level. My subjective appreciation from this book is based on empathy, comprehension and wanting to promote ‘neuro-diversity’ as much as I can.
About Naoki Higashida
Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. He was diagnosed with autism in 1998 and subsequently attended a school for students with special needs, then (by correspondence) Atmark Cosmopolitan High School, graduating in 2011.
Having learnt to use a method of communication based on an alphabet grid, Naoki wrote The Reason I Jump when he was thirteen and it was published in Japan in 2007. He has published several books since, from autobiographical accounts about living with autism to fairy tales, poems and illustrated books, and writes a regular blog. Despite his communication challenges, he also gives presentations about life on the autistic spectrum throughout Japan and works to raise awareness about autism. In 2011 he appeared in director Gerry Wurzburg’s documentary on the subject, Wretches & Jabberers.
About David Mitchell + KA Yoshida
David Mitchell is the author of the novels Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Bone Clocks and Slade House. He has been shortlisted twice for the Man Booker Prize and won several awards for his writing. KA Yoshida was born in Yamaguchi, Japan, and specialised in English Poetry at Notre Dame Seishin University.