Excerpt: 'The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism' by Naoki Higashida


Variation, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1916

From Asymptote:

When you look at something, what do you see first?

So how do people with autism see the world, exactly? Us, and only us, can ever know the answer to that one! Sometimes I actually pity you for not being able to see the beauty of the world in the same way we do. Really, our vision of the world can be incredible, just incredible…You might reply, “But the eyes we all use to look at things work the same way, right?” Fair enough, you may be looking at the exact same things as us, but how we perceive them appears to be different. When you see an object, it seems that you see it as an entire thing first, and only afterwards do its details follow on. But for autistic people, the details jump straight out at us first of all, and then only gradually, detail by detail, does the whole image sort of float up into focus. What part of the whole image captures our eyes first depends on a number of things. When a colour is vivid or a shape is eye-catching, then that’s the detail that claims our attention, and then my heart kind of drowns in it, and we can’t concentrate on anything else. Every single thing has its own unique beauty. People with autism get to cherish this beauty, as if it’s a kind of blessing given to us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we can never be completely lonely. We may look like we’re not with anyone, but we’re always in the company of friends.

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