Author Shares His Autism Story
Born in 1992 in Japan, Naoki Higashida was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. Higashida communicates today by using a letter board and by typing on a computer.
An author of more than twenty works, which include the national bestelling The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, in an interview with Time he describes what it’s like to be a person with nonverbal autism.
A few questions along with hiss responses are excerpted from the article:
What first made you aware that you had autism?
“There wasn’t one trigger, but growing up, I listened to the people around me talking, and this alerted me. I worried about not being able to do what others did so easily, but at that stage I didn’t feel compelled to understand what this thing was that made my life so difficult. When people told me, “You have this disability,” it somehow never really struck home that their words applied to me. Maybe this was because I was still just a child. If you judge me by appearances, I haven’t changed all that much. But I feel pride in saying that I’ve grown into a happy-enough adult.”
What do neurotypical people agonize over too much?
Human relations. Not wanting to be left out of the group, or wanting to be better than others — this kind of mentality makes relations between people way more fraught than necessary. Sometimes I wonder if the human intellect can nudge us backward.
What would you tell parents who are sad that their child has been diagnosed with autism?
I don’t think of my autism as a misfortune. You may be stuck, your suffering may be ongoing, but time flows on. What your child needs right now is to see your smile. Create lots of happy memories together. When we know we are loved, the courage we need to resist depression and sadness wells up from inside us.
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