Naoki Higashida (東田 直樹 Higashida Naoki, born August 12, 1992) is a Japanese poet, novelist, and essayist. He is one of the most famous writers in Japan. Higashida was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. He was not able to make himself understood to people around him, and his behaviour was considered erratic.
Despite his disability, Higashida quickly took to learning Japanese characters. By attending a nearby cram school, he was able to better express himself. Soon he began writing Japanese characters with the help of adults who assisted by guiding his hand. He was able to express some of his emotions. Higashida's mother noticed his power of expression and encouraged him to write poems and short stories. At the age of 11, and again when he was 12, Higashida won first prize in the Grimm Fairy Tales Contest, a story-writing competition.
Since 2004, Higashida has published more than twenty books of fiction and non-fiction. The Reason I Jump was published as a book in 2007 when Higashida was 13, and it features 58 often-asked questions about his autism and his frank, sometimes startling, answers to them. The book was a hit in Japan, and its discovery and subsequent translation into English by David Mitchell and his wife, Keiko Yoshida, brought it to audiences all around the world when it was translated into 30 further languages. The English translation was published in 2013 and soon topped the best-seller list of Amazon's U.S. and British sites.
Some reviewers, including Temple Grandin, were initially concerned that The Reason I Jump might have been written using the controversial method of facilitated communication since there was little accompanying information about teaching and communication methods used, but later satisfied themselves that the books were all Higashida's own work. David Mitchell has since clarified that nobody else's hand is near Higashida's during his use of an alphabet grid.
- Jihei to iu boku no sekai, 自閉というぼくの世界,2004 (My World of Autism)
- kono hoshi ni sunde iru boku no nakama tachi e, この地球にすんでいる僕の仲間たちへ,2005 (To My Colleagues Living on This Planet)
- Yuuki wa oishii hazu, 勇気はおいしいはず,2005 (Courage Should Be Delicious)
- Minna no shiranai umi no oto, みんなの知らない海の音, 2005 (Sound of the Ocean That Everyone Does Not Know)
- Kirankiran akai mi, きらんきらん赤い実, 2005 (Blinking Red Fruit)
- Kikansha Kansuke, きかんしゃカンスケ, 2006 (Architect Kansuke)
- Kansuke to akai happa, カンスケとあかいはっぱ, 2006 (Kansuke and the Red Leaf)
- Jiheisho no boku ga tobihaneru riyu, 自閉症の僕が跳びはねる理由, 2007 (The Reason I Jump) Translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell, 2013
- Kansuke to katatsumuri kun, カンスケとかたつむりくん, 2007 (Kansuke and the Little Snail)
- Kansuke to Yukiko chan, カンスケとゆきこちゃん, 2007 (Kansuke and Yukiko)
- Jiheisho no boku ga nokosite kita kotoba tachi , 自閉症の僕が残してきた言葉たち, 2008 (The Words I Have Left of Autism)
- Hentekorin, ヘンテコリン, 2008 (Strange)
- Kansuke no kurisumasu, カンスケのクリスマス, 2008 (Kansuke's Christmas)
- Zoku jiheisho no boku ga tobihaneru riyu, 続・自閉症の僕が跳びはねる理由, 2010 (The Reason I Jump, pt 2)
- Kaze ni naru, 風になる, 2012 (Become the Wind)
- Arugamama ni jiheisho desu, あるがままに自閉症です, 2013 (Autistic As It Is)
- Tobihaneru shiko, 飛びはねる思考, 2014 (Jumping Spirit)
- Arigato wa boku no mimi ni kodama suru, ありがとうは僕の耳にこだまする, 2014 (Thank You, Echoes in My Ears)
- Nanakorobi yaoki, 七転び八起き, (Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8) Translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell, 2017
- "Rise of the autie-biography: A Japanese author writes about coping with autism". The Economist. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
- "Author Mitchell hails Chiba writer Higashida for offering window on autism". Japan Times. March 7, 2015. Archived from the original on July 10, 2017.
- Tsuzaka, Naoki (January 1, 2015). "Autistic author has a runaway bestseller on his hands". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- Tweedie, Neil (July 6, 2013). "David Mitchell: An autistic child? It's parenting on steroids". The Daily Telegraph.
- Mitchell, David (8 July 2017). "David Mitchell: almost everything I'd been told about my son's autism was wrong". New Statesman.
he has learned to communicate by 'typing out' sentences on an alphabet grid...Naoki voices the phonetic characters of the Japanese hiragana alphabet as he touches the corresponding Roman letters...Nobody else’s hand is near Naoki’s during this process.
- Grandin, Temple (Jan–Feb 2014). "Review: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism". Cerebrum. 2014: 3. PMC 4087189. PMID 25009693.
- Higashida, Naoki (July 9, 2017). "Author of teen autism memoir grows up but can't escape heartbreak". Toronto Star.
- Doherty, Mike (July 13, 2017). "David Mitchell on translating—and learning from—Naoki Higashida". Macleans.