Slip Sliding Away

Naoki discusses the following in this chapter:

When you’re on one of your highs, what’s going through your mind?

The “imaginings” that Naoki describes reminds me of a few students I have or have had, but one student in particular came to mind while reading this section. A few months ago, after I inquired because of their happier than normal facial features, one of my students insisted that they were playing a video game. I was puzzled since they had just walked into the speech room and we hadn’t started our activity yet. Upon further questioning I was told, “I’m playing a video game in my mind.” I was impressed at the time that the student was able to describe their reality in this way and I’m also impressed that Naoki does as well. Because these “imaginings” make me feel like our students are “less present” when they happen, if that makes sense, I assumed that they also felt less present during these times. Apparently this isn’t quite the case since these are two examples of these events being described in ways where it seems like the people experiencing this know exactly what is happening.

What are your flashback memories like?

This reminded me of another student who I have seen silently cry for a few seconds several times in the past.

Why do you make a huge fuss over tiny mistakes?

Again, I am reminded of other students. I’m seeing a pattern here.

Why don’t you do what you’re told right away?

In this section Naoki describes three steps he takes when he has to perform a task, including visualizing how he is going to do the task. This reminds of how visuals help so many individuals with autism. This also reminds me of video modeling and video self-modeling. I feel like I’m pretty good about using visuals in therapy when necessary but this is a good reminder that in addition to visuals that normally come to mind, video modeling/self-modeling is another great tool that I probably don’t use often enough. What about you?

Do you hate it when we make you do things?

For me, this was a nice tie-in to the opening of the chapter about the Hare and the Tortoise. Instead of carrying the Tortoise back home I feel like Naoki would tell us to help the Tortoise reach the finish line (scaffolding, fading prompts/cues/models, and so on come to mind).

What’s the worst thing about having autism?

This was heartbreaking.

Would you like to be “normal”?

I was happy to see that he changed his thinking about himself. I love when he says, “But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I’m not sure how much it matters whether we’re normal or autistic.”


Overall, I’m thinking of so many former and current students while I read this book. It is great to read something from the perspective of a child with a disability instead of the parent of a child with a disability. Very eye-opening in a different way. Naoki is very self-aware, isn’t he?


On another note, I’m reading the Kindle version of this book. Does anyone know the significance of the pictures throughout the book? I’m usually a research everything type of person but haven’t looked into it yet.

-Candra Grether (SLP at The Phoenix School of Discovery and Jeffersontown High School)

Thanks, Candra!!


7 thoughts on “Slip Sliding Away

  1. Karen says:

    I have the paperback version and there are no pictures in it.

    I found it interesting at the level of description Naoki is able to use. Especially telling that they have scattered memories that come back like a sudden storm. They have flashbacks that are usually bad ones that create discontent and difficulty. I can only imagine how difficult it is for those with Autism. The discussion about following directions being beyond their control makes sense. How sad to hear that we have no idea how miserable people with autism are and how it pains them that it causes grief for others.

    My favorite quote of this section is as follows:

    “I’ve learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness.”

  2. Rachel Lacap says:

    While reading these questions and answers, I get visual images of all the kiddos I’ve worked with over the years that are on the spectrum. I find myself saying, “that sounds just like so and / so!” However, I am firm believer in the notion that “if you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism.” I find Naoki’s viewpoints very interesting to say the least, but he uses terms like “we” and “us” and I don’t necessarily think that all people on the spectrum would describe it in the same way. Truly, I kind of get the impression that Naoki suffers from some depression, as well.

    As for the illustrations, I am reading a paperback copy that I got on Amazon and there is a “note from the illustrators” at the back of the book. It says that Naoki’s relationship with nature was the link for the imagery. They have used nature based images as a metaphor for other feelings.

  3. Carrie Kaelin says:

    The portion of the chapter where Naoki writes about his memories… how they come back in no certain order, makes me think of another book about autism I read several years ago. It was written from a parent perspective. In that book, the author spoke of how the concept of time was so difficult for his son (who had severe autism); he felt that this is the reason, or part of the reason, that people with autism do not like to veer from their schedule….. the schedule helps them have a sense of when things will happen and for how long. It reminded me of a middle school student I had on my caseload a few years ago; he was high on the spectrum. His ECE resource teacher was perplexed and a little frustrated that he would stay in the restroom for about 20 minutes each time he went. I’m thinking it was either to avoid class or b/c he had a poor concept of time…. probably both 😉

  4. Allison says:

    I was also impressed with his level of self-awareness. I think some of our students, like Naoki, are more aware of their own feelings and those of others than we might think. In question 54, he tells us that he cannot complete a task without a prompt, which is frustrating for those around him. Two students came to mind when I read this. It was heartbreaking when he said “The person who is suffering the most is the one who is causing all of the headaches for other people”. I appreciate that he pleads with people to “just be patient with us”.

  5. Kim Carter- Campbell says:

    I also appreciate reading the perspective of someone with a disability. Like Candra stated, I feel that the opinions of the parents or teachers supersedes the individual’s feelings. This was a reminder to me as a professional to consider all members perspectives. I reread the question “Would you like to be normal?” multiple times. To me the word “normal” is so subjective, what is normal for one person is not normal for another. Naoki’s response to this question was perfect.

  6. Lindsay Manis says:

    I find myself continuing to ask, do all our students with Autism have this sort of insight or is he an exception? I know for myself, I find that I am able to emotionally connect better to some of my students than others and some of them have “a twinkle in their eye” so to speak. Is it because they are capable of more empathy, emotions, connections or is this rare for someone to have the insight that Naoki has?

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