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

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Naoki Higashida was only thirteen when he wrote The Reason I Jump, a revelatory account of autism from the inside by a nonverbal Japanese child, which became an international success.

Now he shares his thoughts and experiences as a twenty-four-year-old man living each day with severe autism. In short, powerful chapters, Higashida explores school memories, family relationships, the exhilaration of travel, and the difficulties of speech. He also allows readers to experience profound moments we take for granted, like the thought-steps necessary for him to register that it's raining outside. Acutely aware of how strange his behavior can appear to others, he aims throughout to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage society to see people with disabilities as people, not as problems.

With an introduction by bestselling novelist David Mitchell, Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 also includes a dreamlike short story Higashida wrote especially for this edition. Both moving and of practical use, this book opens a window into the mind of an inspiring young man who meets every challenge with tenacity and good humor. However often he falls down, he always gets back up.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published July 11, 2017

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About the author

Naoki Higashida

25 books262 followers
Naoki Higashida (東田 直樹 Higashida Naoki) is the Japanese author of The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism. He was born in 1992 and diagnosed with autism when he was five. He was 13 years old when he wrote the book which was published in English in 2013. Reviews have been mixed, both celebrating the accomplishment of a mentally and emotionally challenged young author and expressing discomfort with the involvement of Higashida's communications facilitator (his mother) and English language translators (Keiko Yoshida and her husband David Mitchell).

Source: Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 331 reviews
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
April 13, 2018
"The communicative non functionality of people with autism is mistaken for cognitive non functionality. It is a severe sensory processing and communicative impairment." Therefore do not treat people even those with an obviously abnormal physical affect and who cannot speak as if they cannot hear, understand and think on what you have said. Because, according to the author, people with autism are absolutely normal in every other way, and this is their disability, which is pervasive. You wouldn't treat someone who couldn't walk as if they were barely educable, you just think they can't stand, walk or run without the assistance of people and technology, so it is with people with autism.

That is the message of the book. I cannot rate it other than 5 stars because of the author, who is non-verbal, and wants to be a writer, is a writer, making huge efforts to tell the world what it is like to suffer from extreme autism. He doesn't say that all people with autism are the same, but suggests that many, like himself, have rich interior lives that they simply can't communicate.

The book was edited by the author David Mitchell who has an equally severely autistic son. His wife, who is Japanese, translated this book and the previous one, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism in order to help themselves in understanding their son and for his carers. He contributed an introduction to the book that, unlike most introductions, really adds to the understand of the text.
Profile Image for Emily B.
442 reviews441 followers
February 18, 2021
I didn’t plan to borrow this book from the library until I saw it on display and spontaneously decided to take it home. I found it particularly intriguing as I work at a learning disability centre with many service users who have autism or are neuro-atypical.

The book helped me see things from the writers perspective and somewhat answered questions I have previously considered but have been unable to answer or discuss with those I work with who are non-verbal.
I also found that as well as answers and considerations it also raised a whole lot more questions.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,669 reviews2,661 followers
October 5, 2017
The Japanese term for autism is jiheisho or “self-locked-up disease.” Severely autistic and almost completely non-verbal, Naoki Higashida would indeed be locked inside himself were it not for his ability to communicate in written language via an alphabet grid – “words are bridges that connect me with others.” More so than in the previous English collection of his writings, The Reason I Jump (perhaps simply because he’s grown up by 10+ more years), I was impressed by how clearly he sees his situation and how deeply he thinks about the meaning of life. In fact, it seems that in Japan he’s seen as something of an unusual sage: in an interview that appeared in the Japanese version of the Big Issue in 2015, he’s asked all kinds of questions, not just about his autism but about human nature and spirituality.

It’s often assumed that autistic children are oblivious of their behavior and its effect on others, but Higashida is painfully aware of the stress and dirty looks his family experiences if he has a meltdown in public. He knows just how strange it seems to others that he has to find all the Hello Kitty merchandise in every train station, but it’s like his brain issues orders he’s powerless to disobey. I most appreciated the descriptions of his mental processes: the steps between hearing dripping noises and realizing it’s raining; how he managed to convince himself to alter his schedule when a train to Tokyo broke down partway; how any time he approaches a situation or conversation he has to look back through his memory for patterns of similar encounters – sometimes this backfires and he ends up using the wrong stock phrase, like “Have a nice day” when he really wanted to say “Thank you”.

Changes of plans and unfamiliar situations still distress him, but he’s learning coping strategies such that he now considers travel to new places one of his greatest pleasures. His mother seems like a model of patience, and two of the book’s most touching moments involve breakthroughs when he’s able to show his love in return: one day he realized he hadn’t seen her in a while and went upstairs to find her, something he’d never done before; and on Mother’s Day he was able to say to his helper “Carnation…buy” and turned that intention into reality, bringing home a flower for his mother.

“I yearn to pass as an ordinary person you’d not give a second glance to,” he writes. From the accounts of his behavior here, that seems unlikely, but it’s heartening that through his writing he can build relationships and share his wisdom. Along with short essays, this volume includes poems and a short story inspired by a grandparent’s experience of dementia.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,493 reviews378 followers
April 24, 2019
This book is a sort of sequel to The Reason I Jump, written when the author was a young teen. At the time of the writing of this book, he has become a young man, even more thoughtful and accomplished as a writer than he was as at 13. His first book was remarkable; I found this one even more so.

This is because, in addition to being a fine writer, Higashida also has severe, non-verbal autism. He writes using a keyboard. In the past, he wrote with assistance but he now writes independently.

Higashida writes movingly of his struggles as a non-verbal man with autism, often trapped by his "fixations", sometimes having embarrassing melt-downs, working slowly to master tasks that neurotypicals (people without autism) master easily, often at a young age. He gets discouraged but at the same time he is able to celebrate his progress.

In fact, although this book is full of the frustrations and limitations Higashida experiences because of his autism, it is far from depressing. Over and over again, he reiterates the need to remain optimistic, to enjoy life despite its limitations. He recognizes that everyone has struggles and experiences their own pain and is determined not to be overwhelmed by his own.

There is much that I learned as a teacher of students with autism, although Higashida is careful to emphasize that he is sharing his own experience and does not speak (in his own way) for others with autism. Nevertheless, the view he offers from the inside is enlightening and powerful. He speaks of the importance of family, of belonging, of experiencing the larger world no matter how overwhelming that may sometimes be. Above all, he writes of the need for acceptance and the opportunity to take a place in the larger society, to feel of value, to contribute in some way, however, small to the world around them.

I learned much about appreciating life and, as the title indicates, to keep persevering, "getting up" however many times a person feels knocked down by life, defeated by its challenges.

The writer David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, among many other fine works, as well as the father of a son with autism, contributes a valuable introduction, describing Higashida's efforts to be taken seriously by those challenging his ability to write such a fine book as well as sharing his own struggles as a parent of a child with special needs and the ways this book was helpful to him.

Altogether a fascinating, well-written work that provides both insight into a disorder that can seem mysterious to outsiders as well as sharing much that has come from his struggles that can be of value not only to those dealing in some way with this condition but also to the rest of us, with our own challenges and struggles. I found it inspirational without trying to be so and just an engaging and interesting read.
Profile Image for Tweedledum .
790 reviews61 followers
October 8, 2017
I thought The Reason I Jump was fascinating, but here Naoki has distilled his thoughts and ideas into nuggets of wisdom and insight that will be relevant to so many people. Yet throughout we also discover the depths of the difficulties Naoki's faces each day in attempting to communicate in real time. "Mother's Day 2013" was one of most powerful cameos in the book as Naoki somehow managed to find the two words he needed to buy his mother a single flower for Mother's Day for the first time in his life.

Naoki defies conventional wisdom that someone with severe autism does not have many thoughts, desires or intelligence.

Finding a way to enable real communication remains the single most important goal in autism. Something all teachers, carers support workers should be working on all day everyday.
Profile Image for Caren.
493 reviews104 followers
September 16, 2017
The author, who has a nonverbal form of autism, has done an incredible job of allowing the reader inside his thought processes by means of thinking the characters of the Japanese alphabet, then mentally transcribing and touching the letters of the Roman alphabet on a homemade QWERTY keyboard. A transcriber then takes down the words and slowly sentences are built. The description of this process alone has to give you an enormous respect for the author. It must have taken time and patience to write a book in this way. What he has created, however, is a wholly unique entry into his mind, which is really amazing. His thoughts are often moving and eloquent and range widely, from what sets off a "melt-down", to what he wishes others would know about how a person with his disability may prefer to be treated, to his abiding love for his family, to his travels, and even simply how he perceives a sudden rain shower. I found some of this thoughts to contain profound wisdom about the human condition in general. Here is one:
"So: people with autism might talk and behave in peculiar-seeming ways, but this shouldn't relegate us to a lesser branch of humanity. Please give us the benefit of the doubt and act on the assumption that we're good people. If you suspect we're a lost cause, we pick up on that. The value of a person shouldn't be decided by the judgments of other people. Kindness brings out the best in all of us.' (pages 171-172)
Here is another:
"Everyone ought to be worthy of respect. The word evokes reverence---an image of admiring a person, or of striving to emulate them. In my case, however, the people I respect outside my family are those who have taught me various things as I've moved through life. Schoolmaster-type instruction leaves me a little cold: what impresses me more is how a person lives his or her life." (page 187)
This message could be for any parent:
"Your child, too, will one day be an adult. For them to live life with the same degree of independence as neurotypical offspring might be difficult, but one day your child-rearing, child-minding days will come to an end. Parents grow older until they can no longer look after their adult children. The period in which we are together as parents and child is finite. So please, while the child still is a child, and while you're still around to do so, support them well. Laugh together and share your stories. You won't be revisiting these years. Value them. That's all I'd ask." (page 201)
Amen to that, Mr. Higashida.
Profile Image for sevdah.
367 reviews61 followers
July 3, 2017
I'm fairly ignorant on the subject of autism, meaning I have Wikipedia-type knowledge of it. I've heard of Higashida's first book, an attempt to explain his severe autism to others, written when he was only 13 - but this one sort of just fell into my hands and I decided to start with it. It has definitely done for me what I expected it to, it's deepened my understanding and knowledge, and it's managed to surprise me enormously. His explanations in plain, simple, precise language of various things - among them what he wants from life, what his perception of time is, what's going on to make him bite into his clothes or lose control in other ways, and his ideas on special needs schools - were all fascinating to me. I've walked into this with a limited knowledge and every time I've closed the book, I've felt changed. It was a good read for me.
Profile Image for Odette Brethouwer.
1,449 reviews238 followers
March 8, 2022
Ik kan enorm genieten van boeken die me in andermans schoenen laten lopen. Daar steek ik zo enorm veel van op. Dit boek gaat een stap verder, ik mag het hoofd van Naoki Higashida is, en dat is een hele bijzondere en een bijzonder leerzame ervaring.

Sommige stukken zijn zo ontroerend dat ik een traantje wegpink. Het is niet geschreven om te ontroeren, maar de pure emoties en gevoelens die op het papier staan konden niet anders dan me raken.

Andere stukken maken de andere denkwijze, de andere wereld van de auteur inzichtelijk, begrijpelijk voor neurotypische mensen zoals ik, en dat is bijzonder knap gedaan.

Niets anders dan lof, een must-read voor iedereen. Om je medemens beter te begrijpen, om je kijk op de wereld om je heen te veranderen.
Profile Image for Magdelanye.
1,671 reviews208 followers
January 8, 2018
Having just finished reading the impressive book, The Reason I Jump, written not so long before this one, I was bowled over by the maturity NH displays in this further account of his life and perceptions as a neuro-atypical human being. After the remarkable success of his first book, it would have been entirely acceptable for him to rest on the the laurels of his success, such a unique breakthrough.

I refuse to accept it when people view us as incomplete or partial human beings; I prefer to believe that people with autism are every bit as whole as anyone else. p113

NH is a true artist and a deep thinker with a gift for simplifying complex procedures such as we might take for granted. This is true wisdom. He blows conventional thinking about autism right out of the running, and I am certain he will continue to evolve beyond his formidable restrictions.

It's HOW you strive to live well that allows others to understand your awesomeness....p37

But I wonder whether it's actually the dreaming of this dream - rather than it ever coming true- that is where the real happiness lies. p125
Profile Image for Jill Robbertze.
600 reviews4 followers
September 23, 2017
Beautifully written by a non-verbal young autistic man, this book gives a valuable insight into the life, dreams and perspectives of someone who is living with this challenge. I found it very interesting how he describes his thought processes making it a little easier to understand the behaviours, meltdowns, rituals etc that we see to different degrees in those "on the spectrum". How wonderful that Naoki was able to be taught to communicate via his alphabet board and computer and has been able to share so much.
Profile Image for Eustacia Tan.
Author 15 books260 followers
July 23, 2018
Someone from Church lent me this and it is so good! Written by the same author of The Reason I Jump (which I haven’t read but really want to now), this book contains the thoughts of a young man who happens to be severely autistic.

Naoki Higashida writes using an alphabet grid, without anyone else’s hand touching his, so you can be sure that the words in this book really did come out of his mind. And when you look at the subjects he muses about, his poetry, and his short story, it’s clear that he has an extra-ordinary mind.

In this books, he talks about his struggles to learn and communicate, as well as encourage all neurotypical people not to give up on people with autism, because they do want to live their best life and they can pick up our emotions. If this wasn’t a library book, I would have highlighted so many quotes, such as:
"On the surface, a sheltered life spent on your favourite activities might look like paradise but I believe that unless you come into contact with some of the hardships other people endure, your own personal development will be impaired."
And I probably would have bookmarked all his poetry. I’m normally not a poetry type of person, but I find that his poems inspire and uplift, even when they look on the slightly more unpleasant side of life. Two that I particularly liked are Rumours and Words - look out for them if you're reading the book!

I would totally recommend this book! It’s a moving and uplifting insight into a person that we might not even think we can communicate with. The beauty of his words show that there is deep potential within everyone, and that we should not be so quick to write off people as unable to contribute to society.

Definitely read this if you have the chance!

This review was first posted at Inside the mind of a Bibliophile
Profile Image for Joana.
2 reviews
January 4, 2020
Este é um livro que nos dá a conhecer a realidade de um jovem adulto autista. Ensina-nos a perceber como um autista vê o mundo e a razão de determinadas reacções. Naoki Higashida descreve como a família é um pilar forte na sua vida, como o ajudaram a ultrapassar determinadas barreiras e como o ajudam a ser mais e mais independente. Defende que “o valor de uma pessoa não devia ser avaliado pelo julgamento de outros” e que os autistas têm o seu papel no Mundo. É um livro muito interessante e que se lê muito bem. Recomendo a leitura e a sua reflexão.
Profile Image for Maya Sophia.
264 reviews12 followers
September 22, 2020
Sometimes I read things that I don't feel like I can give a rating to, and both of Higashida's books are like that for me. I think these are both fascinating looks into one person's experience with severe autism and I think there's a lot to be learned here about autism, compassion, and seeing beyond the conception of "normal".
Profile Image for Negin Hdzdh.
85 reviews40 followers
August 21, 2021
I just wish to be able to raise my autistic child as strong as Naoki. He made me proud of my son. He has helped to understand him more and I hope that all the parents who are dealing with autistic child get a chance to read his books!
Profile Image for Laurie.
970 reviews39 followers
June 21, 2017
Higashida is on the spectrum; he was nonverbal for a long time and even today he struggles with expressing himself verbally; he has what he calls restricted speech. He finds it easier many times to use his computer or a spelling board to communicate. When he was thirteen he wrote his first book, ‘The Reason I Jump’ to try and explain some of his actions to neurotypical folks. His new book, written as a 24 year old, takes that further, telling us what it’s like to live in his world. It includes some of his ‘aha’ moments, when he figured out things that most of us take for granted. His is a life of anxiety and distractions coming from his own brain. He absolutely doesn’t feel sorry for himself, though; while he’s unhappy with parts of his life- like his inability to properly express to his mother how grateful he is to her- he is in general upbeat. I found it very interesting that he has obsessions that have to be dealt with to stay calm- as one with OCD myself, I could certainly those, as well as his sensory overload.

The book is written in short chapters; some only a couple of pages long. Many are posts from his blog, so this gives a bit of a disjointed feeling reading the book. The translators have a child on the spectrum themselves, and I suspect this gave them a special attachment to this project. I recommend this book to anyone with a family member or friend on the spectrum, especially if that person has trouble communicating. Five stars.
Profile Image for Kerran Olson.
597 reviews10 followers
July 21, 2017
"Spoken language is a blue sea. Everyone else is swimming, diving and frolicking freely, while I'm alone, stuck in a tiny boat, swayed from side to side"

This memoir is so eloquently written, and, like The Reason I Jump, gave me a lot more insight into the life of someone with autism, this time from a more mature, reflective perspective as the writing in this book was written during Higashida's teenage and young adult years. This was a quick read as the chapters are very short, but I thoroughly enjoyed every page. I especially liked the short story and the poems included.
Profile Image for Jess.
451 reviews12 followers
September 12, 2020
I know it's not usual to see but I read this before the reason I jump. This is certainly a good read for those who wants to gain a bit of insights to what Naomi has experienced and his thoughts. I didn't read this to understand how autism works or what is autism and I love how it doesn't do that. It more about his experience and thoughts.

There's a lot of stuffs mentioned by Naoki that probes my mind. Very insightful book. All the chapters and his entries were very engaging and I don't think I have a favourite.
Profile Image for Charmaine Greenan.
25 reviews2 followers
December 21, 2017
Fantastically insightful, I wish I could prescribe this book to some people. I only read 'The Reason I Jump' a year ago and it's so moving to observe Naoki Higashida's growth. I was particularly interested in the whole of section four and found chapter 39, on praise, resonated so much with my family's experience. David Mitchell's introduction was interesting as always, particularly his musings on 'severe' and 'mild' autism.
Profile Image for Tiffany .
74 reviews70 followers
October 17, 2020
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight by Naoki Higashida
Genre: Memoir
Short Summary: A young man describes his experiences with non-verbal autism.
My rating: 4 stars.

My thoughts:
Well, that was quite an enlightening read. I learned quite a lot and thought of things in ways I hadn't thought of before. However, the phrase "he or she" was used really often and got on my nerves.

Do I recommend it? Yes
Profile Image for Vickie.
2,012 reviews7 followers
April 12, 2019
This is a wonderful book. I don't often read nonfiction, but I requested this from Library Thing after reading the description and I was happy to learn I was getting it. It is going on my keeper shelf, another thing I rarely do. I have so many books on Mt Git'r'Read that only special to me books go on the keeper shelf.
This is more than a book written by a man with nonverbal autism, it is a philosophy for how to be and live. To be kind, to learn what to do when we can't master a skill, simple pleasures, "light-bulb moments" of discovery, to aspire to be better than we are, maturity, what we think of ourselves is not based on what others think of us. The book is filled and it's wonderful. This is why I am keeping this book.
I am going to find as many of Naoki Higashida's books as I can and add them to my keeper shelf. I love the strength of his family and friends support, how he perseveres. It's a view into his life.
I can definitely recommend this book and this author.
Profile Image for Melissa.
375 reviews29 followers
May 16, 2022
I'm such a fan of Higashida's writing. He is such a compassionate, conscientious person, and his intentions shine in his work. I would love to meet him one day. I read and loved The Reason I Jump a few years ago. I can tell Naoki has matured since then. Although my daughter has different support needs from Naoki's, I learned a great deal about autism from his insights. I learned about the importance of presuming competence, not infantilizing people with disabilities, and picked up some tips I think will help as my daughter gets older. I think every parent with an autistic child would benefit from reading this. I came away with some questions that still weren't answered, but I loved having this peek into the neurodivergent world.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,975 reviews53 followers
March 30, 2022
This is Nonfiction/Autobiography of a young man who has autism. He doesn't speak, but he does write. He has been able to describe to the masses on the day to day details of what it is like to be autistic.

The light the author sheds on this has helped many to better understand autism. So for that, I can give this 3 stars.

Profile Image for Betsy.
401 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2022
This was such a good insight into the world of autism! Some of my family members are on the spectrum, and it's sometimes frustrating to try to understand where they are coming from. I also have a student this year that is autistic and will sometimes go into fits when schedules change unexpectedly, or he thinks that someone is mad at him. This was helpful to see how his mind might be working and processing what's going on around him.
Profile Image for Alisea Thenea.
280 reviews28 followers
May 3, 2021
Veľa vďačnosti je v tejto knihe. A úprimnosti, ľudskosti, nádeje.

Láskavé nahliadnutie do hlavy mužovi s ťažkým autizmom, ktorý sa svojou vytrvalostou naučil komunikovať so svetom a v krátkych postrehoch podáva svedectvo o jeho živote.
Máme sa od neho čo učiť :)
Profile Image for Steph Hayward-bailey .
827 reviews5 followers
September 10, 2017
I loved this book again the author gives an amazing insight into an autistic person's thoughts and feelings. I really enjoyed how the author has grown and his explanation and reasoning are more in depth than in his first book. I would recommend this book to anyone who cares for someone with autism as it would give them a deeper understanding of their behaviours, wants and needs.
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