Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book Review: Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida, K.A. Yoshida (Translation) , David Mitchell (Translation)

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida,

K.A. Yoshida (Translation) , David Mitchell (Translation)

Hardcover, 240 pages

Published July 11th 2017 by Random House

My experience with autism is mostly professional but anyone who has worked in the field of Autism support or education as I have for a long time knows - it always becomes personal. A few years back famous bestselling author David Mitchell (I reviewed his Bone Clocks on this blog)brought attention to a Japanese book called The Reason I Jump. This became a english language bestseller as it was the first persona narrative of a non-verbal young man from Japan with autism. Mitchell and his wife KA Yoshida translated the book because it was important for understanding their relationship with their son who has autism.

In his second book Higashida is now a young adult and despite the success of his first book is still struggling to exist without speaking in talking culture. While it includes all the same personal stories that the first book did, this one comes with a very helpful interview with the author that appeared in a Japanese newspaper and a dream-like short story the author's first attempt at first. The story is a highlight of the book.

The thing that makes this book special is how it gives voice to thoughts and ideas that can help those of us who live around but not with autism every day. Let me give you a personal example. I work at a private school for special needs in Ocean Beach a neighborhood of San Diego. I have a hour long bus commute to work each morning. I could bike to work but I choose the bus to have a hour of reading time in the morning after going to the gym. As you can see from the book reviews on this blog most of my reading is in the genres I write in. Science Fiction, horror, bizarro and sometimes crime.

I had seen this on the self at my parents house. My step-mother Susan is a retired professor who taught special educators at Indiana University. I had the idea that this book could help me. So on the morning I started this book I read about 100 pages of it. It was very eye opening but most of it pushed me to think deeper about my non-verbal students.

That morning I assigned to work with a primarily non-verbal student who uses touchchat on the Ipad to speak. I had only worked with him a few times. In the afternoons He would say I WANT and then hold down the BUS buttons so it would say it 50 times. We normally tell him that we hear him, or point to the timer that shows how long he has left in his day. Some days he will ask for Oreo cookie a dozen times in a row. We ask him to finish his thought, respond best we can. Lets face it hearing the same thing that many times is annoying.

What reading this book did for me remind me to slow down and consider why he was doing it. This student understands language but all his life he had no one to respond. Now that he has the Ipad and we have taught him to talk with it, it is like screaming to get out. He is bursting at the seems to express himself. The damn has broken. It was what I needed to calm my mind in those moments.

I recommend this book to all parents, aunts and uncles of kids and adults with autism. Educators in this field cannot go wrong. It is an eye opening book. Super entertaining as well.

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