John Harris

Journalist & Author

Enough ‘autism awareness’. The necessity now is action | John Harris

Progress has been made, but the release of the profound film, The Reason I Jump, shows how much further we need to go

A film comes out this month that is among the most profound, thought-provoking and moving feats of documentary-making I have ever seen. It is about autism, and a state of being that far too many people either misunderstand or ignore. But as it ranges across lives played out in Japan, Britain, the US, India and Sierra Leone, it also shines a light on parts of the autistic experience millions of us would recognise in ourselves. In doing so, the film shows how little we still know about the human mind, but how much more we understand than we did even a decade ago.

The Reason I Jump draws on the revelatory book of the same name, written by the Japanese author Naoki Higashida when he was only 13 and first published in 2007. Diagnosed with “autistic tendencies” when he was six, Higashida had always displayed the deep difficulties with spoken communication common to many autistic people. But when he learned to use a computer connected to an alphabet grid, he began to map out his world in rich, aphoristic prose that rarely wasted a word.

Related: A psychiatrist diagnosed me as autistic with ADHD. Now, finally, I can thrive | Marianne Eloise

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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