Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight
A young man’s voice from the silence of autism
By Naoki Higashida
Following his ground-breaking international bestseller THE REASON I JUMP, written when he was only thirteen, Naoki Higashida offers equally illuminating and practical insights into autism from his current perspective as a young man.
The Sunday Times bestseller
Naoki Higashida met international success with THE REASON I JUMP, a revelatory account of life as a thirteen-year-old with non-verbal autism. Now he offers an equally illuminating insight into autism from his perspective as a young adult. In concise, engaging pieces, he shares his thoughts and feelings on a broad menu of topics ranging from school experiences to family relationships, the exhilaration of travel to the difficulties of speech. Aware of how mystifying his behaviour can appear to others, Higashida describes the effect on him of such commonplace things as a sudden change of plan, or the mental steps he has to take simply to register that it's raining. Throughout, his aim is to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage those with disabilities to be seen as people, not as problems.
With an introduction by David Mitchell, Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight includes a dreamlike short story Higashida wrote for this edition. Both moving and of practical use, the book opens a window into the mind of an inspiring young man who meets the challenges of autism with tenacity and good humour. However often he falls down, he always gets back up.
Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. He was diagnosed with autism in 1998 and subsequently attended a school for students with special needs, then (by correspondence) Atmark Cosmopolitan High School, graduating in 2011.
Having learnt to use a method of communication based on an alphabet grid, Naoki wrote The Reason I Jump when he was thirteen and it was published in Japan in 2007. He has published several books since, from autobiographical accounts about living with autism to fairy tales, poems and illustrated books, and writes a regular blog. Despite his communication challenges, he also gives presentations about life on the autistic spectrum throughout Japan and works to raise awareness about autism. In 2011 he appeared in director Gerry Wurzburg's documentary on the subject, Wretches & Jabberers.
David Mitchell is the author of the novels Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Bone Clocks and Slade House. He has been shortlisted twice for the Man Booker Prize and won several awards for his writing. KA Yoshida was born in Yamaguchi, Japan, and specialised in English Poetry at Notre Dame Seishin University.
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- Publication date:
11 Jul 2017
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Essential reading for parents and teachers who work with individuals with autism who remain non-verbal — Temple Grandin
There is much to be learned from it about this mysterious condition that Higashida regards as both a blessing and a curse. The book's single most important function is to drum into the sometimes thick heads of us neurotypical readers that people with autism experience a genuine and usually insuperable disconnection between what they want to say or do and what their brain allows them . . . Higashida's writing opens my mind to all sorts of possibilities for interpreting the behaviour of both my sons . . . a defining characteristic of autism is held to be lack of empathy, yet Higashida shows a delicate regard for the difficulties his condition creates and is adept at explaining his experiences in language that makes sense to neurotypicals . . . we should look with gratitude through the porthole he has cleared on to a submerged world. — Charlotte Moore, Observer
Wise and witty, it offers a second insider's insight into the mysteries of non-verbal autism . . . The evolution of Higashida's insights is at times almost unbearably moving . . . Ultimately, though, his self-awareness is uplifting, reminding us to take joy in life's simple pleasures . . . sage and subtle . . . [a work] of illuminating beauty. — Emma Claire Sweeney, Financial Times
Once again, the invitation to step inside Higashida's mind is irresistible . . . Higashida challenges the common belief that people with severe autism are exclusively literal-minded. Time and again he uses metaphor to help readers understand his world . . . if any author can help us get a grip, it's Higashida. — William Moore, Evening Standard
Higashida's books belong in the small but intense canon of "locked-in" memoirs, such as Awakenings or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly . . . Higashida reveals himself to be far more conflicted than before. The titles show how much the years have changed him. The Reason I Jump had joy shimmering through it. Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight - the title is taken from a Japanese proverb - is about persistence. — Helen Rumbelow, The Times
Readers are invited to observe the world from Higashida's perspective - and what a startling perspective that is . . . Higashida is wise beyond his years and constantly expressing his gratitude towards his family, above all his resilient mother. His pronouncements often ring with Yoda-like depth. He sounds like a village elder and it is impossible not to listen . . . challenges, even ones as seemingly insurmountable as those presented by severe disability, are negotiable. Hope - Higashida's favourite word - prevails. — Leaf Arbuthnot, Sunday Times
The Reason I Jump was a game-changer, not only for those with a special interest in autism, but for anyone interested in the sheer diversity of human brains. In short essays using crystalline prose, Higashida made a gentle but devastating case that autism had been entirely misunderstood: it was not a cognitive disability at all, but a communicative and sensory one . . . This follow-up may not have the same surprise value, but it does something just as inspiring: it shows us how, with a little luck, plenty of support and a huge amount of determination, a "neuro-atypical" person can forge a happy and fulfilled path into adulthood . . . Higashida's observations across a whole range of topics are moving and thought-provoking - all the more so for coming from the perspective of a social outsider. — Alice O'Keefe, Guardian
The book rightly challenges the methods and attitudes that prevail in supporting people with autism. It is rich in metaphor . . . Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight should be read by many beyond the circle of parents seeking to understand their child. It places Mr Higashida among the first rank of gifted writers, not just writers with autism. — Economist
Higashida's words are surely a vital message for all those who love and care for autistic family members or friends . . . his writing is poetic, with an inspirational tone that reveals wisdom beyond his years and an acceptance of diversity that we should all aspire to . . . Higashida holds up a mirror to conventional assumptions about autism, including those of health professionals, and challenges us to do better . . . The extraordinary impact that he is making on families across the world continues. — Anna Remington, The Lancet