I remember when I first looked at the list of books that was required for this class and I thought, woah! We’re going to be reading a manga in this class and I was super stoked for it ever since. This manga is so beautifully done; from the pictures to how it’s written. It was definitely different to see how autism is viewed in a different culture. I decided to look into how autism is seen in Japan.There also seems to be a lot of misconceptions of what autism is in Japan. I came across a blog where Jaime Tatsubana talks about how Autistic people are treated in Japan. He states that treatment of those with Autism is poor in comparison to the U.S because of the lack of awareness in the country. Tobe shows this in the manga with how Sachiko and her husband has to explain to people what autism is when Hikaru starts crying or throws fits in class. Tatsubana said himself that he has never even heard of autism until he moved overseas to Canada. According to Tatsubana, if a Japanese citizen is treated with autism, they are given a booklet which gives the person free counselling and job search support. The booklet also enables autistic people to apply for “Living Protection” which allows those with disabilities to receive a monthly pension to cover living expenses until they can find a job.
In With the Light, it seems like Sachiko Azuma had a lot of support within the schools and daycares that she went to. I did a little research on the types of facilities and support groups that they offer in Japan. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.tokyowithkids.com/fyi/specialneeds.html
The website is divided into six sections: parent support groups, other links to different centers, evaluation/testing therapy, tutoring, distance programs, and others. Here’s one of the support sites that I looked at (Warning: it’s all in Japanese ): http://www.as-japan.jp/j/index.html
From what I can pick out from my years of learning the language, it’s a support group that’s mainly in the Tokai region in Japan. There are different options on there that shows different employment plans and childcare support. They even have different options for seminars to help adults to understand the different disorders and also seminars that help try to prevent frustration that leads to abusing your child. I guess this is surprising to me because I don’t really hear much on lots of support groups like this for autism. For school wise, it was the first time reading that there were separate schools for children with autism. Growing up, I only knew that children with disabilities were placed in the same school as everyone else.
I guess to me, out of all the books we read this semester, Sachiko had a lot of support and patience with the people that she had to work with. Yeah, she did go through difficult times with her husband and her mother-in-law but eventually they were willing to try to understand the disorder and try to do whatever they can to help Hikaru.