In this chapter, Naoki Higashida answers/comments on the following:
Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?
You seem to dislike holding hands with people.
Do you prefer to be on your own?
Why do you ignore us when we’re talking to you?
Why are your facial expressions so limited?
Is it true that you hate being touched?
Why do you wave goodbye with your palm facing yourself?
I found myself being skeptical as I began reading this book, thinking some responses were embellished during the process of translation. For example, when discussing the question ‘Do you prefer to be on your own?’ the author states, “The truth is, we’d love to be with other people. But because things never, ever go right, we end up getting used to being alone, without even noticing this is happening. Whenever I overhear someone remark how much I prefer being on my own, it makes me feel desperately lonely. It’s as if they’re deliberately giving me the cold-shoulder treatment.” Those are complex, descriptive sentences with a bit of figurative language.
At the end of the book there is a postscript chapter and an interview….. pages 147 – 149 are very helpful in understanding how Naoki communicates and page 154 sheds light on the translation process. So, I am now not getting hung up on the syntax and semantics but rather am focusing on the message 🙂
What are your initial reactions to the book? Have you reflected on your students with autism, and gained a new or wider perspective their communication and behavior? If so, please share.
Carrie (Carrie Kaelin, SLP at Diagnostic Center and the Brown School)