Monday, 13 January 2014

News From Bridges-Over-Barriers Friends

This month marks ten years since Bridges-Over-Barriers began! We have had at least 77 gatherings in Guelph. We all miss the gatherings during the midwinter months.

Some of us have news to share.

IAN has started downhill skiing this month. Like me, Ian enjoys the outdoors and loves to be cool.

TIM is being brave about his health. For nearly two months last fall, Tim was also brave when Betty had to be away having a knee operation. I asked Tim is he had some lessons for all of us about facing change like that. This is what Tim replied:
"I did well when my Mom was away and I think it was the fact that I knew my supporters already and they were my friends and knew me well and they love me a lot. I learned that they are very good at supporting me and I can trust them to help me with my life even when things are hard. They help me to understand their world and they really try to understand mine.
"I really enjoyed visiting the L'Arche houses in the evening and getting to know the assistants and the core people too. They were always so welcoming of Kristen and me and they loved having us drop in.
I was very busy during the days with my truck and also working with Jenny on the drums and the metronome and talking with her and with Carl on my i-pad. Had I been bored or isolated it would have been very difficult."

Bravo Ian and Tim!

JOHN and his family recommend a new book about a Japanese boy Naoki who types to talk like us.
The Bridges group have all seen Naoki before as the Japanese boy (with his charming mother) who featured in the FC film Wretches and Jabberers that we saw in 2011. I think the book was actually composed several years before the film, when Naoki was 13. Here is a review of this book.

Meet one person with autism
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, KA Yoshida (Translator), David Mitchell (Translator). Reviewed online by William Mandy 15 November 2013.

“The autism described in The Reason I Jump is quite different from the mostly social disorder that I, as a researcher and clinician, find in textbooks and journal articles. The new bestselling book, featuring the remarkable testimony of a Japanese boy who has severe autism, is a surprising and engaging memoir that’s full of paradoxes.

“Naoki Higashida finds spoken communication all but impossible, but has learned to express himself by pointing to Japanese hiragana letters printed on a piece of card in order to spell out words. In this manner, he meticulously wrote the book over the course of months with his mother as scribe.

“The book then came to the attention of a married couple, who were perhaps uniquely qualified to make it accessible to English speakers: the renowned novelist David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) and his Japanese wife K.A. Yoshida, who have a son with autism. Mitchell and Yoshida translated Higashida’s work for an international audience.  The result is a slim volume whose lucid prose has caused me to reconsider some of the most basic ideas I have about autism.

“Over a hundred or so pages of question-and-answer, Higashida displays an originality of thought and poetry of expression that eludes most writers, let alone most 13-year-old boys. For example, when answering “Why do you ignore us when we’re talking to you?” he writes: “A person who’s looking at a mountain far away doesn’t notice the prettiness of a dandelion in front of them. A person who’s looking at a dandelion in front of them doesn’t see the beauty of a mountain far away.

“Further, the level of empathy and emotional insight this teenager displays will surprise many readers, and certainly anyone who has studied autism. The conventional wisdom holds that the disorder, at its heart, is a social disorder, in which the capacity for understanding the thoughts and emotions of others is badly impaired.

“Naoki Higashida is explicit about why he wrote The Reason I Jump. Speaking on behalf of people with autism he writes, ‘We are misunderstood, and we’d give anything if only we could be understood properly’ and ‘I hope that, by reading this book, you might become a better friend of someone with autism.’”

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