'The Reason I Jump' - Kirsty Lang In Conversation With Author, David Mitchell

March 22, 2018

On Wednesday 21st March, Latymer welcomed a distinguished visitor for a highly enjoyable evening of discussion on a very pertinent topic. Renowned and award-winning author David Mitchell joined Kirsty Lang, Freddie Adu of Queensmill School, and Latymer’s own Jackie Heywood for a panel discussion preceded by an enlightening and warmly amusing interview with Mitchell, who joined us from Ireland. 

The principle topic of the evening was the work of Naoki Higashida, a heavily autistic writer whose insightful account of his experiences and perspectives, titled “The Reason I Jump” and written at age 13, was translated into English by Mitchell and his wife. With Mitchell providing the foreword, the book has been a bestseller, widely hailed as an invaluable insight into the challenges and surprising delights of an autistic perspective. Select excerpts, chosen by Mitchell to illuminate both the reality of autism and his own appreciation of Naoki’s personal achievements, were read to a packed Edward Latymer Theatre and placed in a wider context of great and often personal relevance to the school community.

Dovetailing with the concerns of the Academic Mentoring department, Mitchell -- himself the father of an autistic child -- discussed the refuting of once-prevalent myths about the nature of autistic minds, the possible future of social and educational approaches to understanding and integrating those with autistic conditions, and the benefits not only to autistic people and their families, but to wider society, of a more nuanced and hopefully compassionate approach to those who don’t fit the neurotypical model.

After an hour of engrossing back-and-forth, the discussion was opened up to take in audience questions, and it was quite evident from the depth of those questions that those in attendance had greatly appreciated the preceding talk.