Insight into Life in Japan with No Limbs and Through the Eyes of a Child with Autism

  • There are many great storytellers, authors, and poets all around the world, and here in Japan. However, it takes a lot of courage for authors to delve deep into their own personal lives, and even more so if the author is autistic or is born without arms and legs. Today I would like to introduce two Japanese authors and their inspiring books that truly give readers an insight into their lives.

    Naoki Higashida (東田直樹)

    English title: The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice From the Silence of Autism
    Japanese title: 自閉症の僕が跳びはねる理由

    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which hinders the ability to communicate verbally, non-verbally, as well as interact socially. It can also involve repetitive behavior.

    Japanese author, Naoki Higashida was diagnosed with autism when he was 5 years old and now has a unique tool that he uses to help with his communication. The tool features a small paper keyboard – that isn’t connected to any devices – that he uses to type on, and then reads from when communicating to others. As an example, if someone were to ask him “How are you?” he may answer with something like “Oh, there is a bird there” without the use of his keyboard. However, with the keyboard, he would type “I’m good, thank you” and then read it aloud.

    Higashida wrote ‘The Reason I Jump’ when he was only 13 years old and the book was published when he was 15 years old in 2007. This book has received a lot of positive comments all over the internet especially from parents who have children diagnosed with autism. In the book, Higashida really takes readers through what it feels like to live with autism and how painful it is not being able to express how you feel especially towards loved ones. This book is a great read that truly brings more awareness and empathy to those suffering from autism.

    Hirotada Ototake (乙武洋匡)

    English title: No One’s Perfect
    Japanese title: 五体不満足

    If you live in Japan, you may already be familiar with Ototake. As a popular commentator on news shows, you will often see him dressed nicely in a suit and tie on TV. However, he is no ordinary commentator, this gentleman was born with a genetic disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome where he was born with no arms and legs. Although, that doesn’t stop him from trying out some of the sports of the athletes he interviews.

    Ototake’s memoir ‘No one’s Perfect’ was published in 1998 and became the third-best-selling book in Japan within a year of being published. The book provides readers with true insight into his life filled with challenges, a great attitude to life, hard work, as well as all the comical incidences that come with having no limbs. This book is an amazing read. Ototake has changed the way people view disability and his memoir reinforces that with the support of strong parents, friends, and a community, it really does help break down the barriers that those with disabilities face. In his memoir, Ototake reiterates “being disabled is an inconvenience but doesn’t mean unhappiness”.

    So, I hope you’re inspired by these two amazing Japanese authors because I definitely am. These two great reads will definitely pull on the heart strings as you see life through the eyes of a child with autism and how life can still be lived to the full regardless of having no arms and legs. Truly inspirational!

    Check out Amazon to purchase your own copy of The Reason I Jump and No One’s Perfect.

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