the reason i jumpBy Elizabeth Grimaldi, English Teacher, Cranbury School  

The Reason I Jump was written by a thirteen-year-old, non-verbal autistic, Naoki Higoshida, who is clearly not only a gifted memoirist, but a brilliant fable and parable writer as well. With captivating honesty and refreshing simplicity, Naoki shares the answers to many of the questions he’s been asked (and imagines) by people over his thirteen years, in an effort to shed some light on his non-normative behaviors and more importantly, on his inner world.  A powerful story of courage that will move you to tears, I added it to an eighth grade English curriculum unit this year. The unit begins with an excerpt from Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon, and the documentary Wretches and Jabberers, the story of a trip around the world with a group of autistics that includes Naoki.  This rich contextual material was designed to lay the groundwork for the study of the text. (more…)

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The_SparkWhen our son Jacob was two years old he was evaluated as moderately to severely autistic. At the time, this diagnosis meant there was no hope that he would ever read, tie his shoes or even be able to reach out to us as parents and hug us again. We sought out every avenue we could find to help our little boy. We surrounded ourselves with doctors and specialists, all of which were fiercely fighting to bring Jacob back into our world. A barrage of therapists came to our home and trained their focus on his lowest skills. Their protocol included things like teaching him to put a ball in a cup, a skill that sadly one of the younger children from the tiny daycare I was running could easily do. By the time Jacob was two and a half, he had the standard course of therapy. It consisted of 40-plus hours of early intervention followed by speech, developmental, physical and occupational therapies. (more…)