Options for Understanding and Clarification of the Disorder
Rev. Oreste J. D’Aversa
All - Faiths Minister, Spiritual Visionary
This article is designed to provide information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is distributed with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering medical, psychological, legal or other professional service. If medical, psychological, legal, professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a professional, in that field, should be sought. The principles and concepts presented in this article are the opinions of the author and based on his interpretations of the aforementioned principles. The author is not liable or responsible to any person or entity for any errors contained within this article, website, or for any special, incidental, or consequential damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this article or on my website. Any application of the techniques, ideas and suggestions in this article are at the reader's sole discretion and risk.
In your reading of this article, kindly keep an open mind and be “open to the possibility” that some of the ideas mentioned may be useful to those helping and working with children who have Autism, their parents and caregivers. The information provided here is “in addition to and not instead of” current established medical protocols and practices for Autism.
It is the desire of the author to give the reader a “different perspective” on the challenges of Autism and offer some support tools to help all those involved as they embark on the journey with those that have Autism.
I find it very intriguing that there has been a tremendous increase of children being diagnosed with Autism in the past decade alone. Is it possible that there is indeed no coincidence and these cases are part of some divine plan to help humankind in our spiritual evolution? Are we all to become more caring and loving individuals and those with Autism are our teachers in this area? Is there a reason greater than our understanding that Autism is part of some master plan of a Higher Power to help the world be a better place?
What is Autism?
“Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. One should keep in mind however, that autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and in varying degrees - this is why early diagnosis is so crucial. By learning the signs, a child can begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention programs.”
“Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development.”
The five disorders under PDD are:
• Autistic Disorder
• Asperger's Disorder
• Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
• Rett's Disorder
• PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
“Each of these disorders has specific diagnostic criteria which has been outlined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).” From The Autism Society of America - www.Autism-Society.org
Characteristics of Autism
“Children with autism demonstrate behaviors from three characteristic domains. The First Domain is Impairments in Social Interaction. A child with autism may show poor eye gaze, may not want to be touched or hugged, may not understand that other people are not thinking about the same things they are thinking about, and may not understand facial expressions.
The Second Domain is Impairments in Communication. Children with autism may have limited verbal speech, or use words without an attached meaning. They may repeat words back to you (echolalia) and their language may not be used to convey meaning in a typical context.
The Third Domain is Stereotyped Behaviors. A child with autism may engage in rocking, spinning, toe walking or hand flapping, may demonstrate hyper/hypo-sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and may adhere to strict routines.
However, children with autism do not all show the same behaviors in each of those domains. This is how children with Autism are different from each other. Autism presents as a spectrum of behaviors from mild to severe.” From the Educator’s Guide Experiencing Autism – Video www.AutismOntario.com
We human beings are made up of four components.
1. The Physical (of the Body),
2. The Mental (of the Mind),
3. The Emotional (of the Heart)
4. The Spiritual (of the Spirit).
Each of the components has a function of its own and work interdependently of one another and together comprising a human being or the attributes of being human. If any of these four components are out of balance, we experience “dis-ease”. When we experience “dis-ease” in the body, it becomes sickness; when in the mind, it becomes mental illness of sorts; in the heart, it becomes “heart ache” or emotional disorders and in the spiritual, it is viewed as being “spiritually disconnected”.
What if the part of us that is true spirit, the part that is unseen (though we all know exists), the part that makes the you in you, decided that once it became human it didn’t really like it here? Simply based on all the trials and tribulations of modern day earth and all the miseries inflicted by humans upon other humans, this spirit, this being came to the conclusion that life on earth is just to difficult to deal with.
But what to do? Once this spirit, this being has incarnated into human form it cannot go back to where it came from so perhaps it locks itself up in its own world, the world of Autism, where no one, or no thing can hurt this precious being. A world where this precious being does not need to interact with others so there is no risk of harm.
What if this spirit is an advanced soul or this human being has
hyper-sensitive (overly sensitive) senses? There is the case of Dr. Temple Grandin, who is Autistic, she is a professor at Colorado State University and a professional designer of "humane" slaughterhouses.
(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin and www.YouTube.com/watch?v=46ycu3JFRrA). She has extraordinary abilities with animals. Is she not a spiritual teacher, instructing mankind on the humane treatment of animals? Her hyper-sensitivity lets her observe things that though are present, are not viewed as important to the rest of us, and yet she has revolutionized the cattle industry. Her pioneering research in the field of animal behavior makes her a sought after expert in her field and makes her quite in demand for her paid professional services. Is she eccentric or does she possess spiritual gifts that need to be better understood like other people with Autism?
It is my personal belief that there is no love as strong as a mother and father’s love for their child. This love transcends all space and time. Has this being chosen this parent(s), this family to incarnate into to learn some life lessons to evolve their soul and to teach their parent(s) as well? Perhaps the reason these children are here, in this vast quantity is to teach their parents (and all of us for that matter) about love. Not the kind of “selfish” love where one is wrapped up in their own world and being narcissistic, but a “self less” love where we love ourselves in a healthy way and reach out to others to help them. By helping those with Autism are we not in turn helping ourselves and learning more about love?
It is my belief the children of Autism are here to teach us about love and to be better people. Teaching does not always need to be verbal with books in a classroom and a white board; it can also be non-verbal and one-on-one. Are the children of Autism our spiritual teachers? Are they here to educate us about love? Are they here to instruct us how to come out of ourselves in order to help them come out of themselves?
Some Practical Exercises
The following are some suggested guided meditations and visualizations to help caretakers that have loved ones with Autism. The exercises here are meant to be used “in addition to and not instead of” any current professionals and healing modalities you are working with. These are some additional tools in your Autism “tool box” to aid you in your journey.
These guided meditations and visualizations are meant to be experienced; however you can get enough of an understanding to do them yourself or to work with someone else to help you create the exercises.
1. Meditation – Spirit to Spirit
Meditation simply described is aligning Mind, Body, Emotions and Spirit, so that these components function as one. Meditating is the practice of quieting the mind of all its chatter to enable you to be open to the thoughts of God (the God of your understanding), the thoughts of the Universe, your Higher Self or whatever your belief system is regarding a higher consciousness.
If you have never meditated before, the following exercise will help you achieve a meditative state of mind. It is very simple, enjoyable and is called the “1 – 2 – 3 – 4” Method of Meditation. Find a nice, quiet place where you will not be disturbed. You may want to create some sacred space for these exercises. A place away from all distractions, noise and that is peaceful.
1. Take a slow deep breath in for a count up to four – one, two, three, four.
2. Then slowly exhale out for a count up to four – one, two, three, four.
3. Take a total of 3 or 4 slow deep breaths.
4. Then just say to yourself, in your mind, “1 – 2 – 3 – 4” over and over again.
5. The purpose of this is to focus your mind on the counting and away from the chatter that is with us in our mind.
6. There is no right way or wrong way to perform this meditation. Do what you feel is comfortable and natural for you. There is no need for stress or strain.
7. In time you will have no need for “1 – 2 – 3 – 4” you will be able to close your eyes and go into a calm, relaxing and peaceful meditative state. Start off with a one or two minutes. Work your way to 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Even a few minutes during your day if you wish.
Once in this conscious state of meditation, and without stress or strain, in your mind, just say the loved one’s name that is experiencing Autism. Ever so gently, without force and with love, call out to the loved one and just ask him/her how you can help them or ask anything you like, then just wait and see what comes up.
Here, in essence you are communicating with your loved one that is experiencing Autism, “Mind – to – Mind” (or “Soul – to – Soul) (Telepathically). You are sending out a message in your mind to that person. In return you may receive a message back in the form of a “picture” (Clairvoyance (Seeing)) in your mind that may flash for an instant, or you may “feel” something (Clairsentience (Feeling/Touching), or you may “hear” something (Clairaudience (Hearing/Listening)), you may come to “know” something (Claircognizance (Knowing)), you may “smell” something (Clairalience (Smelling)), or have a “taste” of something (Clairgustance (tasting)), just be open and let go and see what comes up.
When you receive a message or multiple messages have an audio recorder by your side or write them down as soon as you get out of or while in the meditative state. Keep a journal handy and write down the date and time and what message you received regardless of whether or not it makes sense at the time. Then every few weeks look back at your journal and observe if there is some type of insight, message or pattern that may lead you to a better understanding about the person with Autism.
2. Guided Mediation Experiencing Autism
Guided mediation and creative visualization are techniques whereby another person, with their voice instructs you to take a journey, in your mind, to help you have a certain experience. It can be experiencing a trip to the beach, the mountains, instructing you to profoundly relax in a way you have never relaxed before or it can be to help you to experience something you have never experienced before.
In this guided mediation, first you achieve a meditative state, and then you will be taking a journey to experience the life of someone that has Autism.
Start by relaxing your body, beginning with the top of your head. Pay special attention to your respirations and breathing. Mentally breathe and release all the tension and strain in your face, the back of your head, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hand and fingers. Then do the same to your upper back, your mid-back, lower back, your chest, stomach, into your pelvis, down your legs, your thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet and out your toes. With every breathe that you take, with every beat of your heart you become more calm and more relaxed.
Activate your imagination and picture a well lit flight of stairs, seven steps in all, a well lit flight of stairs leading up to a large double door. This is the entrance to the most beautiful place could ever imagine. Now mentally see yourself walking up the well lit flight of stairs until you reach the top step, then the doors open into the most beautiful place in the world, the most beautiful place you could ever envision. Now in this, the most beautiful place in the world, notice a building to your right and door with a sign on it that states “Autism Experience”. Go into that room and notice in corner of the room a space suit. This space suit has the ability, once you get into to it to help you experience some of the characteristics of someone that has Autism. When in public, others will just see you as a normal person without the space suit.
Now get into the space suit. You will notice there are speakers in the headpiece. These speakers will tell you how to act when with other people and/or when in public. Follow the instructions as they are spoken to you without judging them. After you place the space suit on, you will see a door marked “Playground” now walk through the door and you will be in a playground with other children.
As you are walking onto the playground you see a group of children and you go to them. They are playing with one another, holding, hugging and touching each other as children often do. The children ask you to play with them and you do not feel right about that, as you are there just to enjoy the day and the playground. You won’t look the children in the eyes for any period of time or not at all as you do not know these children. And they are making certain facial expressions that you just don’t understand. Shouldn’t children be happy on a playground? Yet some are happy, some are not, some are sad, some are angry and some faces look mean! That does not make any sense at all! This is starting to get you a little frustrated!
You do not understand what they are thinking about as they are playing and yet they are talking about other things. Are they thinking about playing or thinking about other things? You are not sure. Why would you not think and talk about playing if you are playing? You also feel uncomfortable when they want to play with you and hug or hold you. You are not sure about this touching thing. Usually just the people close to you touch you and these are a bunch of strangers. This is getting more frustrating and you really don’t understand their behaviors!
You’re speaking in your head but the words are not coming out of your mouth so well or not at all. These words are difficult for you to use. You’re talking to people in your mind , why can’t they understand you? This talking thing is a lot of work! People should be able to understand you without having to talk. You’re getting even more frustrated!
You’re really getting overloaded with all this stuff, the sounds, bright lights, smells, people and lots, lots more. It’s all too much for you to handle. You think you’re going to stay to yourself and just play by yourself. You’re going to spin things around, spin yourself around and carry around your “thing”. Your thing never gives you any trouble. It’s doesn’t talk back to you or want anything. It’s just there and you like that. There is a lot going on in this big world and some of it’s not so good. There are lots of bad things happening, bad people doing bad things to nice people. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. In your inner world everything is just fine and no one is hurting anyone else or doing bad things.
Well it’s time for you to leave the playground and go back to the building and take off your space suit.
You walk back in your mind to the building and walk through the door marked “Autism Experience”. There you take off your space suit and place it on the rack that you originally got it from. You leave the building and go back to your most beautiful place in the world the most beautiful place you could ever imagine.
You see the door to the flight of stairs and you walk down them ever so gently, ever so slowly. You take 5 deep breathes and with each breathe you slowly come back to the here and now feeling refreshed, re-energized and re-vitalized, having had a pleasant experience, and getting a better understanding of the world for a person with Autism.
This is just a brief insight using guided imagery to help you experience the life of a person with Autism. I would encourage you to read up on the various characteristics of Autism to get a much better understanding of the various behaviors. As some behaviors may be a combination and may vary to their degree and severity.
3. Creative Visualization experiencing wellness with Autistic person, family members, friends and other people
In this creative visualization exercise you want to do the same part of the exercise as above with the seven steps, however this time the door will open, you will be in your beautiful place again and you will be experiencing a life of wellness for your loved one with Autism and your entire family with all parties achieving wellness, with wellness being anything you want it to mean. In your visualizations see the person with Autism reaching their full potential, achieving their goals, being happy and doing their purpose on earth. See all the parties, being happy, joyous and full of love.
No one knows what the future holds for any of us so why not make it a future full of hope, happiness and good things. It has been written, “what the mind can conceive it can achieve”, so visualize good things and place it in the hands of your Higher Power.
Perform all these exercises for a period of 21 to 30 days to attain the total effectiveness of what these exercises have to offer.
Modern medicine has no cure for Autism at this time. This has been a brief look at Autism and the various characteristics of this challenging disorder. We are more than our bodies; we are made of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. These four components makes us homo-sapiens human. I would ask that you be “open to the possibility” that Autism may require some “out of the box thinking” using some non-traditional ways to work with those that have Autism. Was it not less than 25 years ago that the cellular phone was science fiction as seen on the television show “Star Trek” and now it is science fact as common place as a cup of coffee? Don’t we owe it to those with Autism, their loved ones and caregivers to try things that may help them? Shouldn’t those with Autism have a chance at a full, productive and happy life?
The exercises presented in this articles are “in addition to and not instead” of the modern day medical protocols used for Autism. Eating right, exercise and taking vitamins are things we do in addition to whatever “dis-ease” we may have to provide support to us. These exercises are additional tools in the Autism “tool box” to help caregivers better understand Autism and hoping to achieve some serenity as well.
Modern man does not always posses the answers to everything or in a manner that is readily understood. Sometimes answers come from a place that we may not fully understand but provide us with everything we need. It is my belief that God would not provide us with problems without solutions. Is it possible that love in conjunction to certain modern day protocols is the answer for those that have Autism? Why not try it for a while? You have nothing to loose and everything to gain. Love might just be the key to unlock the mystery of Autism.
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Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
National Autism Association
Autism Society of America
The Mayo Clinic
Rev. Oreste J. D’Aversa, “Reverend Rusty” is an all faiths Minister (www.GodLovesYouAndMe.org), ordained by The New Seminary in New York City. He the author of the book Empowering Your Children in the New Millennium: Practical Tools for Children, Parents and Teachers and
The Seven Simple Principles of Prosperity: Practical Exercises to Achieve a Rich, Happy and Joyous Life!, Keynote Speaker, Seminar Leader, Consultant and Life Balance Coach (www.OresteDaversa.com). He is also the founder of The Institute of Practical Spirituality (www.PracticeSpirituality.com). He can be reach at ReverendRusty@att.net, or at 201-310-4445.