This article is a work in progress. It has been so since the past 4-5 years that I have written it and will continue to be so as long as I keep learning and evolving. Expansion of awareness and consciousness is happening at breakneck speed today. So if I think I’ll have to edit it before I publish it, this article will never see the light of day.
So here it is! Healing autism as I experience it….
HEALING AUTISM THROUGH SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING
“We are not human beings in search of spirituality, we are spiritual beings in search of humanity”- Unknown
My journey with Autism has been amazing and it gets more and more amazing as the days pass by…I wonder how much more I am going to learn through this amazing phenomenon of our times called ‘Autism’. When I started in ’94, the incidence of autism was one in 5000 births. Today it is one in 80 births. Staggering!
Autism cannot be treated or cured. For it is not an illness. It is a way of being. But yes, there are many issues and difficulties that are faced by children and adults with autism due to their special physical Constitution which can be healed. Once they are healed of these discomforts, they will still be autistic but more happily and magnificently so!! They can then shine in all their brilliance and can shine their light upon the world.
Until a few years ago, autism was for me, as it still is for many, a neuro-developmental condition with a genetic etiology. It is a biological condition. Yes- it probably is, but only at a physical level. Some may ask,”only physical? Is there more? I would say, “Yes, the physical aspect is just the tip of the iceberg. What is beyond the physical is all the rest of it.” This is not my quotation. This is what is said in the Vedas, The Gita, and the teachings of all the seers that have blessed this earth with their grace and presence.
The minute we are ready to acknowledge that there is more to reality than what can be perceived by our five senses, our spiritual growth begins. How would one explain the sixth sense, the intuition, telepathy, near death experiences, gut feelings, past life remembrances and all the rest of it? These are not scientific facts that can be proven in a laboratory. These are truths that need to be experienced. There’s no other way one can learn about the true reality. No matter how many lectures we attend or books we read, this knowledge becomes truly ours when we experience it. It may not come as sudden enlightenment, but it can come as little bursts of realization. For me, it has come through autism. For, I believe, that is the real purpose of this phenomenon of our modern era- to elevate humanity to a higher level.
THE ORIGIN AND HUMAN INCARNATION
This entire universe is made up of vibrations. What we think of as the source, the ultimate truth or what some of us like to call ’God’ is of the highest, lightest vibration. It is the vibration of love. It is all pervading. After that is the high vibrating pure souls with autism and also the intellectually challenged who are full of love and bliss. Followed by this are human beings who are in the realm of total unconditional love, compassion and oneness. After this comes the realm of nature, encompassing the amimal and plant world. The animals are again high vibrational beings that can bring great healing to the world as do so many plants and trees who are the perfect creations of God. Physical matter is of the lowest vibration in the natural world the densest, yet still posessing many high frequencies like the healing crystals. Right at the bottom are again us human beings who are vulnerable to negative energies in the form of negative thought patterns and feelings like fear, anger, doubt, anxiety, worry, stress, jealousy, envy, insecurity, etc. The human beings possess the entire range of vibrations. From the very dense and low vibration, to the very high. Because we are made up of everything that makes up nature! The essence of the mineral world, the life forces of the plant world and the soul forces of the animal world and we are the only creations of nature to experience the essence of the spirit. The same person can experience high and low vibrations based on his/her thought patterns. When we become aware and conscious, we have the capacity to raise our vibration to come as close to that of the autism vibration as we possibly can and experience the oneness which they are a part of.
Before we step into human existence, we are part of this high vibrational world that makes up everything. But the minute we are conceived, we are turned into matter. For a while into our new life as a human child, we are still a part of this high vibrational world where there is no concept of time and space. The ‘here and now’ is the only reality for our children. Until slowly, the process of separation begins- separation from the spirit, the source. This is where the ‘ego’ comes in. The concept of ‘I’ which is lacking in the animal world. This is what it is, that sets us apart from the animals.
This process of separation begins at about the age of three (which is decreasing these days) and continues till it separates completely at about the age of nine when children often experience an existential crisis of who they are and why they are here. Different children experience this in different ways, and if parents pay close enough attention, they can be sensitive to the emotional state of their children at this time. My daughter started voraciously reading about the life and teachings of ‘The Buddha’ at nine and became a complete vegetarian for the next three years! This was entirely her journey without any parental influence.
AUTISM- A VEDIC PERSPECTIVE
Coming back to autism, I have been working with children with autism since the year 1994, and have seen, as have many others that these children are gifted. They can perceive what most of us can’t. They are highly sensitive to the extent that is hard to imagine, and can hear what is a small sound for us, magnified a hundred times over. The same applies to all the physical senses, different for different children. But the part that is most distressing for these highly sensitive and vulnerable children is that, they are also able to perceive the thoughts and the emotions of the others around them! This is the worst suffering that anybody can go through, more so if what they sense is not positive.
This is because; these children are vibrating at a very high level- Much higher than the average human being. Yes, children with hyperactivity, learning disabilities, etc are also highly sensitive high vibrational beings, but are comparatively a little more grounded than the children on the autism spectrum.
To speak in the Vedic language, for a human being to take an incarnation on the earth, it is not sufficient if his physical body alone is here. We are made up of many aspects other than the physical; we also possess a mind, a soul and a spirit (ego/I). All of these need to incarnate along with the physical body. How that takes place, the order and the sequence is a subject on its own, but the point is that we are not just a physical body.
According to our Indian Vedic wisdom this process of separation after physical birth and the merging back again with the spirit after physical death is a cyclic process that continues many times over. Ancient scriptures talked about Advaita and Dvaita philosophy . Advaita is a state of connectedness or unity with the spirit and Dvaita is a state of ‘dualism’ or separation from the spirit. In our children with autism, physical incarnation happens but the spirit or the ego incarnation does not take place when and how it should. They are in a permanent state of Advaita. They are never separeated from ‘All That Is’. This makes them very highly connected high energy spiritual beings who are hyper sensitive and almost clairvoyant. They are aware and know everything that is going on around them. We may be saying something but thinking something else. They can see the discrepancy and this bothers them. It would bother us if we could hear what others are thinking about us wouldn’t it?
Just like there are various levels of evolution of the human beings, there are souls with autism at various levels of evolution. Some of them are advanced souls who are aware of who they are and about their own divinity. They have learnt to communicate divine messages to the world. They have recognized their true purpose on earth while, there are others who have severe challenging behavioral, sensory and metabolic issues.
Some autistic children and adults are gifted. They already possess the knowledge and wisdom that it would take us lifetimes to acquire. Initially before the parents and these children themselves are aware of their truth and purpose, they display or demonstrate their knowledge and wisdom only in occasional bursts depending on the vibration in the environment !! Owing to their non-verbal nature, they are sadly misunderstood to be intellectually challenged. But when parents get a glimpse of their gifts, like precocious reading, memory and arithmetic skills it speaks of visible, tangible gifts on one side and their incapability to do simple and basic tasks like reading and writing, playing, socializing, etc., on the other they are often confused and perturbed about who this child really is and what they are really capable of!! They are not sure that little peek into their true being was real or was it our imagination as doting parents! But it is true.
Caution: It is not the intention of this article to create unrealistic expectations for parents from their children. Not all of them are able to, or choose to express their gifts. At the same time, some of these gifts are not visible to our ordinary consciousness. No matter how the child is presenting to us, we need to trust and know the person beyond the label of autism.
Some of them can write with support even when never learnt to write the alphabet. We think they do not know letter-sound connections, but they write about profound philosophical matters. They look at a sum and write the answer directly without going through any steps! They also sometimes surprise the parents by reading their minds!! I have seen this happen in my own practice with these awesome children.
The intellect is intact. The spiritual wisdom is intact. But it is their physical body that does not help them to express who they really are. Their fingers can’t write, their lips can’t move….how do they express themselves and what they feel? It is the mind-body connect that is compromised.
HEALING AUTISM- HOW CAN WE HELP?
This is where we come in. We need to understand very, very deeply the true picture. Autism demands of us to evolve, to elevate ourselves towards where they are if we want to truly help them. They are here to change how we live and how we think. We are foolish to think that we can make them like us and expect them to fit into our systems. We now need to change our thinking and our systems so that we can accommodate the ever increasing number of these children. For this we need to understand who they are and what they need. We need to expand our awareness and consciousness.
There is a lot happening all around the world where people are beginning to see the true spiritual purpose of autism. We can see that the spirit of this child is not fully in the body. We need to help them come into their bodies. We need to help them to ground themselves. This grounding will help them to be less sensitive, to be more present in their bodies, in their surroundings, to make eye-contact, to probably hold mommy’s face and say, “mommy be happy” (this really happened). Once we help the body to be in equilibrium, then it is more ready to take on what the head or the heart tells it to do. The will increases. Some of them may even start writing, speaking, reading.
Almost all the symptoms of autism can be beautifully explained with this holistic spiritually based understanding. This perspective also gives us the true direction of the therapy that they really need. Some of the children who could communicate have asked for this kind of therapy, where they can be who they are; where there is music, art, movement and where nature is part of the learning process and where there is no hurry and desperation.
Let us look at a few examples of the symptoms and related therapy:
Toe walking and self-stimulatory behavior: The earth gives our physical body gravity. But the spirit gives us levity. It is this levity or buoyancy which makes us stand upright distinguishing us from the four legged animals. One can see that when ones ‘spirits’ (I or self) are low, one tends to slouch…we often hear people say that one is in ‘high spirits’ or ‘low spirits’ without really knowing why they say that!! As the spirit body of these children is not fully incarnated and the larger part of it is above them, it literally carries the child up with it and the child tends to toe walk.
“I’m not sure where my body is if my eyes are shut. I must see my hands to know where they are. It’s sort of terrible to open my eyes and see my body somewhere in space when I thought it was somewhere else” says Ido Kedar, a non-verbal autistic who learnt to communicate in his book Ido In Autismland.
“Yesterday I could not feel my body in a concrete way. Surgery has given me body areas that are sensitive and sore. This constant feedback is helping me find a greater body presence.” Says adult non-verbal autistic Lyrica Mia in her blog post. (http://www.awetizm.com/2012/06/surgery-co-creation-and-honoring-natures-perfect-balancing-act/#.VkF9HLcrLIU)
When we are touched or when we are hurt, our awareness goes to that part of the body. Since the awareness of children with autism is not inside of their bodies, touching them and doing body work with them, helps bring their ‘self’ or ‘I’ into their bodies. This is also the reason for self-stimulatory of self-injurious behavior as we see in some children with autism. They can’t feel themselves within their bodies. They can’t feel themselves in space. Just imagine being in a state of being in zero gravity. This is the reason many children have vestibular and proprioceptive issues. They need to touch or even hurt themselves to feel their bodies in space. They cannot feel the ground under their feet. They cannot feel their skin- the skin that gives us boundaries. The skin that separates us, makes us individuals, gives us an identity.
Implication for therapy: Working with touch, movement, balance-based activities and giving them a calm atmosphere without any kind over-stimulation (including TV, and loud noises of any kind) will help the children calm down and help them to be grounded. Walking barefoot on all kinds of textures, heavy duty core muscle work in OT sessions. Table top cognitive work should be avoided. Lot of creeping, crawling, rolling, etc., helps. The Masgutova method really seems to be helping many children come into their bodies.
“hi the mnri method the connection of the mind and body the dr svetlana masgutova and the team are the big and important way the single body can be connected to the mind. name the svetlana masgutova method as the fundamental for the brain and the body and i am very happy that you are showing the world the method.” Typed 12 year old Akhil Lad (USA) who had benefitted from this method.
Foot massage every night works wonders as does anthroposophic rhythmic massage! Make sure to keep feet covered after massaging. Use circular, rhythmic movements. They also need a lot of love and warmth (physical as well as emotional). The ego body needs warmth to incarnate fully.
Can’t tolerate crowds: We have seen that these children are so highly sensitive to their surroundings that they can perceive the thoughts and emotional vibrations of people around them. Many parents of children with autism will vouch for this fact. They react differently in the presence of different people. If the mother is anxious, they become hyper. If the mother is calm, they are calm. They are a mirror of the emotional climate of their surroundings. They are a part of everything around them and they cannot separate themselves from their surroundings. So imagine when a sensitive child is in a mall or a social event where there are hundreds of people thinking and feeling a hundred different things! That’s why these children like to remain aloof. The pure beings that they are, they cannot bear or tolerate any materialistic, negative or judgmental thoughts in their environment. We even see them closing their ears tightly, enclosing themselves in closed spaces, as if to cut themselves off from what’s happening around them.
‘I love being in nature. Noisy environments drive me mad inside. It’s sort of terrible because I overload in my sensory system too easily.” Says Ido Kedar in his book.
Implications for Therapy: Avoid taking them to crowded places. But if you can’t avoid it, prepare your child weeks in advance or give them noise cancelling head phones.
Repetitive behavior: As it has been said, these children are one with nature. They resonate with the rhythms of nature. The sunrise, the sunset, the phases of the moon, the changing seasons, the chirping of the birds…there is a predictability that can be found in nature and that comforts and soothes them. They cannot handle unpredictability. It makes them insecure and induces fear. That’s why good rhythms and structures are so important for them. Whimsy cannot be tolerated. As in nature everything repeats itself time and again, repetitive, ritualistic, stereotypical behavior gives them a sense of security. If we try to take it away from them, it’s like taking the ground away from under our feet. It helps them release stress.
Therapeutic Implications: We do not want to change or ’fix’ our children. Let us accept them the way they are with their behavior. Their need for repetition is a part of who they are. This acceptance helps them to deal with the challenges they have to face every day from a society that does not understand. If parents begin to understand and accept, then they can sensitize the entire society. Parental acceptance gives these children who can sense every feeling of ours, a great sense of peace.
Goods rhythms of the day (week, month and year also), that is the order and sequence of the activities of the day with a breathe-in breathe-out routine helps calm them because of the predictability.
Connectedness with animals, plants and nature: This too follows from the above explanation that as these children have not separated from ’all that is’, they feel they belong with the animal world as the world famous person with autism Temple Grandin, so beautifully describes. They feel at home with the animals because the animals do not judge them. They do not think that their behavior is weird. They accept them and love them just the way they are. But in the presence of the average humans, they cannot shut off the noise.
Therapeutic Implications: This is the reason that animal assisted therapies like horse therapy, dolphin therapy, pet therapy, etc., work so well with these children.
The ‘Will’ and Weak digestive system
There are various therapies which force these children to ‘do’ things which they need to learn to do and then they are rewarded extrinsically for doing it. They force them to make eye-contact which is a punishment for these children! They work only with what is apparent on the outside, with no understanding of the real reasons behind why these children are who they are. What is really needed is to understand why these children can’t will themselves and then work with the root cause rather than work with the symptom.
If the ego incarnation does not take place, the will forces remain weak. This is why we see that it is very difficult to get a child with autism to do something. Will is ‘doing’! As the ego is related to the will, it is also related to the digestive system. The digestive system and the will forces act together. The weaker the digestion the weaker the ability to follow instructions and commands. It’s not that they cannot understand the command. They do, but cannot will themselves to follow it. There is no point in repeating the command over and over again if the child lacks the will to be able to do it.
Therapeutic implications: How does one work with the will forces? Through diet!! Yes! Can you imagine the connection? These children have a compromised digestive system. They cannot digest everything. They are allergic to many foods including milk and wheat products especially when they are processed and not natural. Many parents have reported a marked improvement in their behavior after the withdrawal of these foods from their diet (to be done systematically). Their responsiveness improves, eye-contact improves, sensitivity decreases, they just seem more present and aware of their surroundings. One can corroborate this with parents’ experiences with diet. As for the other toxins that the children consume like chemical additives, preservatives, fertilizers, pesticides, etc, forget about it. Their systems are unable to handle the chemical substances. That is why organic food is suited for these children as it is natural and matches their spiritual frequency. . The parents of a student of mine could easily make out when the brand/company falsely claimed that the food is organic. For it immediately showed in the child’s behavior!!
Having said that, one may serve the best food and lifestyle at home but may do so out of guilt, fear and anxiety. That doesn’t help. Also, we may not always get the food or lifestyle choices when we go out to a new place. We can purify the place or food with light and bless it and that elevates the vibration of the food. This is the path of least resistance. We do the best we can with love and positive vibrations and when can’t we don’t need to stress over it.
What our children really need: Apart from everything we’ve discussed so far, if we want our children to be grounded and in equilibrium, they need a calm atmosphere free of unnecessary noises, a life as close to nature as possible, clean pure air to breathe, good clean organic food to eat and an education that recognizes and respects their gifts, their learning styles and their true needs. They need to play, cuddle and fool around. They need a space to be themselves and they need a lot of touch, love and warmth. And most importantly parents and adults who respect them, love them unconditionally and accept them the way they are.
A spiritual perspective helps usbetter understand our children. They are spiritual beings that have descended upon this earth to help humanity to wake up and think about our choices, about who we are, our non-dual reality and to elevate us to the next level in our spiritual journey.
Most importantly, parents and carers need to trust in the process and know that your child has his own free will, you maybe doing many techniques, OT, Speech therapy, diet or MNRI or other therapies, however, the child has his own pace, soul contract, and lessons to teach before becoming fully embodied…we need to honor that choice and give them a happy, loving space for them to blossom in their own unique way.
Thanks for reading and do leave your comments below.
My students/Masters: Aniruddh, Aditya, Aryaman, Kaviraj, Varun, Nikhil, Mohit, Nischal, Sahil, Sashank. Khurshed, Avraneil,
Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy and Waldorf/ Curative Education Dr Lakshmi Prasanna. Dr Swapna Suzy Miller.
Patrick Jason Lee
All my new friends and parents on Facebook who share their experiences with their awesome children
Education For Special Needs- The Curative Education Course; The collected works of Rudolf Steiner (Rudolf Steiner Press,Mitchell
Awetizm- A Hidden Key to our Spiritual Magnificence by Gayle Barkley Lee and Lyrica Mia Marquez (Published by Chrysallis Gold LLC, Arizona)
Waiting For Weston- A mother’s Story About Raising a Multidimensional Child by Marilu Schmier (Published by Don Mar productions)
Naoki Higashida’s The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. Translated by K.A. Yoshida and David Mitchell; Introduction by David Mitchell
Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience Through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness by William Stillman (Sourcebooks Inc, Naperville, Illinois)