Exclusive - David Mitchell Extended Interview Pt. 2

  • Aired:  10/01/13
  •  | Views: 28,534

In this exclusive, unedited interview, author David Mitchell shares lessons learned from translating "The Reason I Jump" and how he's applied them to raising his autistic son. (7:14)

SO NOW YOU OPEN THIS UP AND

YOU HAVE THIS BLUEPRINT INTOMAYBE NOT YOUR

SON'S SOUL BUT INTO THE IDEATHAT THERE IS A COMPLEXITY AND A

NUANCE TO THIS PERSON'S INNERLIFE, THAT IS NOT EVIDENT.

HOW DOES THAT HELP YOU? HOWDOES THAT MAKE -- DOES IT MAKE

IT MORE COMPLICATED? DOES ITEASE YOUR MIND? WHAT HAPPENS TO

YOU WHEN YOU LEARN THIS?

>> TO ME, VERY PARTICULARLY, ITENCOURAGES ME TO GIVE MY OWN

SON'S CAPABILITY AND POTENTIALMUCH MORE CREDIT THAN I

OTHERWISE WOULD, IF HE DROPS ATOP ON THE FLOOR AND WALKS OFF,

PREVIOUSLY I WOULD SAY, WELL HEHAS AUTISM, WHAT DO YOU

EXPECT? BUT NOW, REALLY BECAUSEOF THE BOOK, I WILL SAY, PICK UP

THE TOP, BRING IT OVER TO THETABLE AND PUT IT THERE.

AND HE DOES.

AND I GIVE HIM FIVE AND SORT OFA VIRTUOUS SPIRAL KICKS IN.

IT IS A VIRTUOUS SPIRAL, BECAUSEI KNOW THE POTENTIAL OR I

BELIEVE THE POTENTIAL FOR A MUCHGREATER -- WHAT IS THERE. I

BOTHER TO EXPOSE MY SON TOMORE LANGUAGE. MY EXPECTATIONS

ARE HIGHER, AND I THINK ANYTEACHER EVEN IN AN ORDINARY

MAINSTREAM CONTEXT WOULD AGREE.

WHEN YOUR EXPECTATIONS AREHIGHER, THEN THE PERFORMANCE

CREEPS UP BECAUSE THE YOUNGPERSON IS THINKING, WELL, I AM

BEING TREATED LIKE I HAVE ABRAIN HERE.

>> RIGHT.

AND THE DIRECTION IS UPWARDS.

>> AND THERE IS INCREDIBLESPECIFICITY.

THE QUESTIONS IN THE BOOK ARE,WHY DON'T YOU LOOK AT PEOPLE

WHEN THEY TALK? AND THE BOYANSWERS, I AM UNCOMFORTABLE

LOOKING AT PEOPLE'S EYES

IT'S NOT THAT I'M NOT INTERESTEDIN BEING NEAR THEM OR WITH

THEM, IT MAKESME WEIRD WHEN I DO, OR HE WILL

SAY, WHEN I AM TALKING WHY IS ITSO HARD TO KEEP YOUR ATTENTION?

WELL, BECAUSE I AM PAYINGATTENTION TO THE FEEL OF YOUR

VOICE AND THAT IS WHY HE IS VERYSPECIFIC AND HE SAYS, WHEN YOU

ARE TALKING TO ME, SAY MY FIRSTNAME.

>> YES.

>> SAY MY NAME TO ME BEFORE YOUSPEAK.

>> SO IT IS ALMOST -- HE ISLAYING OUT CERTAIN INSTRUCTIONS.

>> LIKE A HOW TO GUIDE, YES.

IT'S A LIST OFABOUT 60 OF THESE QUESTIONS AND

ANSWERS.

SOME AS YOU SAY ARE MORE OBVIOUSTHINGS, BUT OTHER QUESTIONS YOU

NEVER STOP TO THINK ABOUT.

WHAT DO PEOPLE WITH AUTISM THINKABOUT

AUTISM THEMSELVES? HOW DO YOUPERCEIVE TIME? HOW DO YOU

PERCEIVE MEMORY? WHAT IS IT TOREMEMBER, IF YOU HAVE AUTISM?

AND ONE BY ONE, A NUMBER -- RECEIVED UNHELPFUL WISDOM I HAD

ABSORBED WITHOUT EVEN NOTICINGIT, IT GETS REPLACED INTO A MUCH

MORE HELPFUL AND USEFUL THING.

>> IT DID STRIKE ME AS THISIDEA OF LIVING IN A BALL PIT AND

THEY SAY WHY DO YOU REPEAT

THESE PHRASES? AND HE SAYS,MY MIND IS NOT ORDERED.

>> YES.

>> AND I WORK VERY HARD ATTRYING TO ORDER IT AND WHEN

THERE IS A PHRASE I PICK UP ON,I NEED TO -- IT IS ALMOST -- IT

FEELS LIKE A CHILD LOST IN THEWOODS, IT IS ALMOST LIKE HE IS

TRYING TO LEAVE BREAD CRUMBS FORHIMSELF TO FIND HIS WAY BACK.

>> YES.

>> TO A WAY TO COMMUNICATE INTHE WAY THAT HE WANTS TO CONNECT

AND HE CAN CONNECT.

>> YES, YES, YES.

THE BOOK DOES THIS IN ANUMBER OF WAYS AND A

NUMBER OF DIFFERENT CONTEXTS,BUT JUST THE GENERAL NOTION THAT

THERE IS SO MUCH MORE GOING ONBEHIND THAT WALL OF

SPEECHLESSNESS, THERE ARE MANYTHINGS THAT RUN CONTRARY TO WHAT

WE THINK ABOUT AUTISM.

HE GIVES EVIDENCE THAT HE CANIMAGINE AND ANALYZE AND

THERE IS MENTAL ELOQUENCETHERE.

HE CAN USE METAPHOR, THERE IS ASHORT STORY.

THE SHORT STORY HE WROTE. IT'SREMARKABLE. AND I THOUGHT ONE OF

THE MOST REMARKABLE THINGS, THEYWOULD ASK HIM, WOULD YOU CHANGE

HAVING AUTISM? AND THIS IS A13-YEAR-OLD KID.

AND HE GOES WHEN I WAS YOUNGER ITHINK I WOULD HAVE.

BUT NOW I REALIZE THAT, YOUKNOW, IF THEY CAME UP WITH

SOMETHING THAT I COULD TAKE THATWOULD CHANGE IT I DON'T KNOW

THAT I WOULD BECAUSE OF THERICHNESS.

HE RECOGNIZES THE RICHNESS, EVENTHOUGH IT IS DIFFERENT IN THE

MANNER IN WHICH HE PROCESSES THEWORLD. >>I LOVE HOW THE BOOK

ENDOWS PEOPLE WITH AUTISMDIGNITY.

THERE IS A BRIEF SECTION THATSORT OF HOW DO YOU WANT US TO

TREAT YOU? AND HE MENTIONSTHERE THAT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM

JUST DESERVE MORE CREDIT FOR THEINTELLIGENCE THAT THEY HAVE.

WE ARE SO USED TO, I THINK,EQUATING SOMEONE'S INTELLIGENCE

WITH THE WAY WE ARTICULATEOURSELVES.

>> YES.

>> BUT WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE WHOHAS THIS ENORMOUS OUTPUT

PROBLEM, WHEREBY IT IS SO HARDFOR THEM TO SAY ANYTHING, WE

ASSUME, THEREFORE, AS WE SAIDEARLIER, THEY ARE BROKEN, IN

LESS, POLITICALLY CORRECTTERMS, THEY

ARE BASKET CASES. >> RIGHT.

>> AND I FEEL THAT THE BOOK IS APOWERFUL AND LIFE ENHANCING

REBUTTAL OF THAT VIEW.

>> NO QUESTION AND THE FACT THATTHE ISOLATION IS NOT A CHOICE

BUT IS A DESPERATE SEARCH FORTHE RIGHT -- FOR THE ROSETTA

STONE, FOR THE RIGHT KEY THATWILL ALLOW THEM TO COMMUNICATE

IN THE MANNER THAT IS FULFILLINGTO THEM.

>> THAT IS A GOOD METAPHOR.

BECAUSE FOR THE REST OF US THISMYSTIFYING BEHAVIOR IS RATHER

LIKE HIEROGLYPHICS. WECAN'T MAKE HEADS OF TAILS OF.

>> IT'S WONDERFUL TO SEE HIMSAY, I WISH

PEOPLE WHO HAD THE SYNDROME, GOTMORE CREDIT FOR THE HEROISM OF

THEIR DAILY LIVES, THE STRUGGLETHEY HAVE TO MERELY MEET THE

STANDARD THAT OTHER PEOPLE AREASKING OF THEM.

>> YES, YES.

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM.

IT IS SO EASY TO FORGET THAT INTHE HURLY-BURLY OF THE 24/7.

>> AND I GIVE YOU ALL THE CREDITIN THE WORLD, AND I AM SO

DELIGHTED YOU ARE PUTTING THISBOOK OUT THERE AND I REALLY URGE

PEOPLE TO GET IT.

IT IS FASCINATING, AND VERYAFFIRMING, THE REASON I JUMP,

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVESNOW YES AND

YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU WANT,DAVID MITCHELL, THANK YOU SOMUCH.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

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