The popular book about autism, “The Reason I Jump,” is set to become a film, Variety reported on Wednesday. Based on a memoir written by a then-13-year-old Naoki Higashida, who lives with autism, the documentary will be co-produced by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s company Vulcan Productions.
“The Reason I Jump” was initially released in Higashida’s native Japanese and translated to English in 2013. In the book, Higashida sheds light on living with autism by sharing his story through a series of more than 50 questions people with autism are commonly asked such as “Why do people with autism talk so loudly?” and “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?”
A prolific author, Higashida has a non-verbal form of autism and he uses a letter board to communicate. “My basic methods of communication are my letter board and computer,” he told Time in 2017. “I point to individual letters and ‘voice’ the letters as I touch them….I can’t converse well, but this doesn’t mean I don’t think. It’s just that when I try to speak, the words that come to mind disappear.”
In 2015, Higashida released a follow-up book to “The Reason I Jump” titled, “Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism.” He also starred in the 2011 documentary “Wretches & Jabberers.” The film follows disability rights advocates Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette as they traveled the world to investigate and change others’ perception of autism.
Allen, along with British filmmaker Jerry Rothwell, will bring the film version of “The Reason I Jump” to life. Neither Allen nor Rothwell have disclosed any personal connections to autism. Allen is the founder of the medical research organization Allen Institute for Brain Science. According to Variety, “The Reason I Jump” is one of a series of documentaries that Vulcan Productions will produce featuring brain science-related topics.
Rothwell previously directed a 2008 documentary, “Heavy Load,” which followed a punk rock band of the same name whose members live with disabilities. Rothwell said of the current project, “Naoki’s book transformed my understanding of autism. I hope we can translate it onto the screen with as much simplicity, elegance and power as in his writing.”
While film production has already started, additional details on whether Higashida or other people with autism will star in the film have yet to be announced. The film will be co-produced with the British Film Institute, the Idea Room, MetFilm Production and Runaway Fridge.