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This film is presented in partnership with Ascendigo Autism Services.

"There's a gap between what I'm thinking and what I'm saying. It's like a reflex reacting to what I've just seen in some cases. Or to some old memories. As if I'm drowning in a flood of words. The big exception is words or phrases I'm familiar with. Like playing a game of catch with a ball.

- Naoki Higashida 

Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world.

The film blends Higashida's revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe.

Moments in the lives of each of the characters are ​linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps.

The film distils these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. 

To view the TRAILER, click here:



Naoki Higashida’s descriptions of a world without speech provoke us to think differently about autism. For most of history, nonspeaking autistic people have been considered less than human: ostracized within communities, banished to institutions, even in some ages and places, killed en masse. Stigma is still a feature of most autistic people’s lives.

But Naoki’s evocative descriptions of the maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, impulses and memories which affect his every actions lead us, as David Mitchell writes in his introduction ​to THE REASON I JUMP​, to understand that “inside the... autistic body is a mind as curious, subtle and complex as any.” Naoki debunks the ideas often held about the autistic spectrum - that at one end there are geniuses and at the other fools. Instead he describes a magnificent constellation of different ways of experiencing reality, which for the most part, are filtered out by the neurotypical world.

For a filmmaker, this offers an opportunity to use the full potential of cinema to evoke these intense sensory worlds in which meaning is made through sounds, pictures and associations, as well as words. While no film can replicate human experience, my hope is that ​THE REASON I J​UMP ​can encourage an audience into thinking about autism from the inside, recognizing other ways of sensing the world, both beautiful and disorientating. I hope the film takes audiences on a journey through different experiences of autism, leaving a strong sense of how the world needs to change to become fully inclusive.



Autism is a neurological variation that occurs in about one percent of the population.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ​Autism Spectrum Disorder​ is a group of complex disorders related to brain development. The word ‘spectrum’ is used because there is no set characteristic, gene, or biological marker expressed consistently by every autistic person. Common markers of autism include variations in communication and social interaction, and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. However, every autistic individual is different. The formal diagnosis of ASD has changed significantly with research and science, and will continue to evolve.

Look at “​Understanding the Spectrum​” to see a visual representation of the spectrum.


Apraxia is the inability to initiate, stop or slow down a sequence of movements on demand. It affects the motor planning process it takes to execute movement.


When an autistic is triggered by an external or internal stimulus that causes their baseline level of a regulated state to become no longer balanced

Identify-first Language

Identify-first language refers to identifying language where the condition, in this case “autism,” comes before other descriptors, like “autistic person” or “Deaf person.” ​Many autistic people prefer identity-first language in contrast to people-first language, which places the person before the condition or diagnosis, as in, “person with a disability.” As with any group that faces stigma or marginalization, the best way to get identity language ‘right’ is to ask and then honor a person’s individual preference with regard to how they identify themselves.

Minimally Speaking

An individual who is minimally speaking can communicate longer and deeper thoughts by effectively pointing to letters in order to spell, and can communicate some basics with speech.


Nonspeaking refers to individuals who do not have speech as a reliable or consistently reliable means to communicate their true thoughts. Use of speech is a motor skill, not a measure of an individual’s capacity for comprehension or communication.

“Nonspeaking autistic” is the language preference of the people whose stories are being told in THE REASON I JUMP. It is identify-first and is preferred over “non verbal,” since “verbal” in Latin translates to “without words.” Though they do not use speech to communicate, the people in the book and the film do have a lot to say.


This term refers to the myriad ways in which brains function differently from what is considered ‘typical,’ without assigning judgment to those differences. Autism is one form of neurodiversity.


Refers to brains that function within the ranges of what is statistically considered to be within the range of ‘normal.’

Unreliably Speaking

An individual who is an unreliable speaker is not always able to use speech to communicate everything they want to say but wants others to know that they appreciate their effort to connect and recognize that they can’t always know if there is more to share.


The Human's Guide to Supporting Autistics

Written by Autistic Subject Matter Experts: Adam Farrell, Alex Cormaney, Charlie Colligan, David Knight, Gordy Baylinson, Ian Nordling, Nick Moore

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

The Significance of Semantics: Person-First Language: Why It Matters

  • Year
  • Runtime
    82 mins
  • Language
  • Country
    United States, United Kingdom
  • Director
    Jerry Rothwell
  • Screenwriter
    Naoki Higashida (based on the book by)
  • Producer
    Jeremy Dear, Stevie Lee, Al Morrow
  • Composer
    Nainita Desai