'With the Light' Manga Shines a Light on Growing Up With Autism
Very few forms of media represent or focus on autism spectrum disorder. While “With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child” may be more outdated in terms of statistics and technology, it still holds up and is relevant to parents raising a child and having them go through the special education system, as well as growing up with autism yourself.
It focuses on parents Sachiko and Masato Azuma raising Hikaru, who has autism, and Kanon in Japan in the 2000s. They go through a variety of obstacles in life such as transitioning between teachers, ignorance from peers and other adults, changes in routines and residence, family dynamics and so on. It showcases the special education system in Japan in the early 2000s, the wide array of students who are on the spectrum and have other disabilities, and the growth and development of Hikaru from birth to middle school.
As a heavy duty animanga fan in my high school years, I discovered this at my local library and was amazed. I liked it as most of my friends have autism (and I did too, albeit undiagnosed at the time) and found it relatable as I grew up in special education. I ended up getting most of the series for Christmas one year and bonded with one of my friends over it.
There are eight volumes of the manga, the last one containing storyboards/dialogue for what was planned to be part of the final chapter, as the author Keiko Tobe passed away due to cancer in January 2010, leaving part of it unfinished. I recommend that everyone, even non-anime and manga fans, read it.
Image via Amazon.