Interview with Reena Singh!

Dear friends,

I met Dr Reena Singh at a training program and we connected immediately!

I had heard about her many times before as the both of us worked in the field of special needs and therapy.

We decided to meet again and that meeting led to an interview cum conversation with Reena as part of her YouTube channel. It was great fun doing it as we were on the same page and could relate to each other.

Here are the links to the interview presented in parts on the YouTube Channel:

Anthroposophic approach to parenting
https://youtu.be/RTC68ZQATRA

Waldorf approach to schooling
https://youtu.be/dAyAUeO-b24

Life Rhythms and Children
https://youtu.be/09dxaqsG0nU

Hurried parenting vs Slow parenting
https://youtu.be/PCAi9vqRYKM

Sibling rivalry and how to deal with it.
https://youtu.be/RVtpoZPmFA8

Will keep adding as Reena adds more parts of the interview.

So please watch, like, share and subscribe 😄

Lots of love ,

Nirupama

UNDERSTANDING AUTISM AND SPECIAL NEEDS FROM AN ANTHROPOSOPHIC PERSPECTIVE

(Written on request from a friend to create awareness about Anthroposophy and its importance in Autism from my perspective)

My name is Nirupama. I am a psychologist. I work with children with special needs and mostly autism. Currently my focus is on parent training, education and support. I started my career in 1994 when the incidence of autism was relatively low, that is six for every ten thousand children. Today it is one in every sixty. It is worth pondering over the rise in its incidence.

A decade into my career, the conventional therapies mainly focused on academics, speech and behavioral therapies which focused on correcting, educating or ‘fixing’ the children. And I was doing the same.

It was in 2008 that I attended my first annual conference on Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is the philosophy founded by spiritual scientist Dr Rudolf Steiner in the beginning of the 20th century. It’s a philosophy that when applied to any walk of life or field of work our everyday tasks become more enlivened, conscious, and more humane.

That was where for the first time I heard someone talking about ‘connecting’ with the child. The concepts I heard in that conference shifted completely my paradigms, not only on autism but on life itself.
The branch of anthroposophy that works with Special Needs, is called Curative Education. Without going into the details of the spiritual-scientific principles, I would like to mention the concepts that I found useful for all children, but more so those with autism, ADHD, Learning disabilities, sensory processing and developmental disorders. These concepts are now more widely accepted in the mainstream society. The following is what became clear to me, personally, in the past nine years with Anthroposophy with regard to autism:

• A child’s behavior, emotional state and ability to learn depend on his well-being and his internal health. A healthy child is a happy child. No amount of therapies can yield complete benefit until the child is feeling well and balanced. For this, it is important to look into what he eats, when he eats, when and how much he sleeps, what he does during the day, his lifestyle, the environment at home and so on. This is much in line with the principles of Ayurveda.

• Autism is known as a neurological disorder. However, like Rudolf Steiner said about almost a hundred years ago, it has a lot to do with metabolism and gut health as it is being widely accepted these days and parents are seeing amazing results with special diets like wheat, milk, sugar free and other diets.

• A child with autism has an intact intellect (unless there’s comorbidity with other conditions). However, the body doesn’t cooperate with the mind. Therefore therapists need to focus more on the physical body with movement, balance, core muscle development, reflex integration, physical fitness, massages, sports, horse riding, walking, trekking, and most importantly, real, meaningful work with hands, etc., to help the child ground into his body, to become aware of his body, so that his body is able to access the intellect that is already present and use it to function more productively in this world. In other words, improve the mind body connect. This is the reason that Occupational therapy, when done effectively, yields positive results.

• Even if the child is non-speaking (lack of expressive language), it is incorrect to assume that the child is unable to comprehend, follow or grasp what is being said (intact receptive language). We need to assume intellect and address his actual age in teaching him academic concepts, exposing him to books, stories and life experiences, as their receptive language is much better than their expressive language. Children have proved this true with the help of the RPM method that is helping them learn and communicate age appropriately.

• Children with autism, because of their awareness not being completely grounded in their bodies, are less individualized and much more at one with the natural world as compared to typical persons. Hence, it is extremely beneficial to keep them close to nature, maintain eco friendly and natural living styles, food, rhythms and routines that are in harmony with the natural world.

  • They do not have a sense of “I” or Ego and hence they are not capable of any negative thinking or actions and are pure hearted. Interestingly, many verbal children on the spectrum do not use the word ”I” to refer to themselves. Instead they use names in third person!

• Therapy is more effective when therapists connect deeply with the children, respect and accept them for who they are and gain their trust by working from the heart and soul as opposed to working mechanically.

No two children with autism are the same and it is important to observe them and allow ourselves to be guided by their needs and not be bound rigidly by schedules and agendas although it is important to have a structure to begin with.

Steiner strongly recommended that teachers and Curative Educators do ‘Innerwork’. That is, work on their own conscious growth and development. Get in touch with their inner core and find their internal balance. This would help them serve the children and adults alike in a deeper, compassionate and a more intuitive way.

• Children are more deeply and subtly connected with their parents’ and more so the mother’s well being than we are aware. The sensitive children often reflect the mother’s state of mind. Hence it is equally important to work with the mothers, help them deal with their anxiety, help them accept their children unconditionally, to help them identify their children’s strengths and build on them. In addition, most importantly, to find something that will fulfill the mother’s personal need for joy and happiness. A happy, fulfilled mother is able to better care for her family than a mother who is giving more than she is receiving.

• Although technology is proving to be a boon for children on the autism spectrum, we need to be careful not to expose these children to too much technology as they are sensitive to the EMF and radiation that comes from the wifi and signals. The TV and video programming ensures that the children are highly stimulated and hence hooked on to them.
Children are responding positively to methods like communication charts, PECS and RPM which do not involve the use of technology. In this time and age of excesses, it important not to expose children to over-stimulation of the senses (example: noisy videos, malls, arcades). Care has to be taken to keep the children in calm and peaceful environments as many of them are hypersensitive to loud noises and to reduce the occurrence of hyperactivity which is rather environmentally induced.

• Children on the autism spectrum and other special conditions need to be helped to live a life of dignity and productivity. This is the central guiding principle behind the Camphill Communities (residential communities for adults with mental and psychological disabilities) based on principles of anthroposophy, located all over the world including India. It is important to keep the youngsters and adults productively engaged in order to help them become contributing members of the society in their own unique capacity.

These are just some of my takeaways from anthroposophy.
Hence, anthroposophy is not just a method of education or medicine, but it is a way of life. It is a holistic way of looking at the human being and serving humanity with a deeper understanding.
I sincerely believe that anthroposophy can improve the quality of life of everyone that is touched by it in one form or another. It has made my life and work so much more meaningful.

Nirupama Rao
Psychologist, Parent Consultant.
Author- The Autism Story
raonino@gmail.com

Curative Educational Institutes in India: http://www.anthroposophyindia.org/education.htm

HEALING AUTISM THROUGH SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING

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
INTRODUCTION
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.

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