May 2015 By Punya Srivastava Punya Srivastava explores the poignant and mysterious world of autism, andhighlights areas of hope I knew the words, but no word would come out of my mouth. I wanted to cry out that I knew but I was mute! If I could have talked, I could have soothed my mom – alas, I could not. Autism came between us!” wrote Krishna Narayanan in his book, Wasted Talent: Musings of an Autistic, which he wrote at the age of 23. Krishna was born and raised in Boston, though he presently lives in Chennai. When he was four, his mother, Jalaja, tirelessly strove to teach him to say ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ by repeatedly showing him the cards, but no words would come out of him. This taxing and agonising activity went on for months as she was unable to gauge if her child was simply mute or retarded. However, one day Jalaja came up with the idea of lifting both the cards and asking him to point out the ‘Daddy’ card. Little Krishna did. The mother couldn’t believe her eyes. She was jubilant. “To my parents, I was not dumb anymore. In reality, I was never dumb. I knew the alphabet, I knew many words, and I knew how to fashion sentences. The tragedy of autism is being unable to communicate in words,” he wrote. Imagine a child of four being imprisoned within his own mind. How claustrophobic he must have felt entrapped within an impregnable world he is unable to describe. Almost as if he were talking underwater, and could only produce a stream of bubbles. Imagine living like that your whole life. Yes, autism does that and much more to people. It robs the person of the tools needed to express emotions, particularly of love and affection. It makes him anxious and fearful of the world around. It forces him to be dependent upon someone to help him live his life. It evokes frustration within him and triggers off crankiness. It makes him extra sensitive to sound, colour, light and food, causing him to suffer intensely in what, to the rest of us, would seem normal circumstances. It condemns him to an unbearably cold and lonely world, bereft of the human contact and warmth that is probably what keeps most of us from committing suicide. In short, if life is challenging for the rest of us, it is nothing short of an extreme endurance test for the autistic person, and also for the people around him. What it is Autism does not have a fixed set of symptoms. It is not just a single disorder but covers an entire spectrum of what ‘normal’ people perceive as mental ill-health, though it might be a debate in itself to gauge what ‘normalcy’ actually is. In Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), two people on the same level of the spectrum can show varying symptoms, and that includes even identical twins! The cause of autism is not known, but scientists suspect both genetics and environmental factors play roles. The biggest challenge of ASD is hypersensitivity to sensory inputs and simultaneous muteness. This combination creates so much internal tension that it may trigger violent behaviour. All this slowly form a pattern to which the autistic person haplessly surrenders. The four-year-old Krishna developed a chronic fear of being social, thanks to his inability to give words to his emotions, and because of an insensitive and pugnacious liftman. In his words, he was filled with apprehension and tension and to relieve himself, he would stretch out his hand and wriggle his fingers repeatedly. To the school liftman, this child came across as weird, and he lost no time in putting him down. “Every day, he made fun of me. I was young and innocent. The ridicule hurt because I could neither stop his behaviour nor offer a retort. I could not even tell my mom – I was mute! Alone, I bore the terror every day. Ridicule is a veritable hurt, but loneliness makes the suffering more poignant,” he wrote. This is not an isolated incident, but happens with an autistic person every day of his or her life in one way or the other. This derision, in my opinion, is the biggest cruelty inflicted on a community that already bears a heavy load. This is not to say that people do not look out for autistics, but we do sometimes inevitably, either consciously or unconsciously, in masked and subtle tones, communicate our discomfort with them. And this is picked up quickly by most of them. Contrary to common perception, a majority of ASD children do not have an intellectual disability. Twenty two-year-old Abhimanyu was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. For his father, Delhi-based Madhusudan Srinivas, Senior News Editor with NDTV, this news was a blow. He went through an entire gamut of emotions – anger, bafflement, and breakdown – before he could accept the diagnosis as well as his child. “Your ability to accept gets challenged at that moment. And you cannot put any time duration to that. It is an ongoing process. I am still learning,” he says. Abhimanyu has a keen ear for music, and though his verbal communication is stilted, like many autistic children, he is able to complete the lyrics of songs when he hears his parents sing. He also roller-skates and swims. “Autism is integral to a person’s being – the way a person thinks, perceives, processes, engages and interacts with the world,” says Ray Hemachandra, a media professional living in Ashville, and father to a 14-year-old autistic child, Nicholas. Many autistic children have difficulty in differentiating between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate – and that usually puts them on a tight spot. Says Ray, “Nicholas struggles with the idea of differentiation. It sometimes makes it hard for him to find acceptance in a world in which most of us insist upon differentiation. It is hard for him to understand how people use language, hard for him to know how and where to be just physically – even as his own acceptance of everyone and everything is unqualified.” “Abhimanyu has a very pious heart. He does not differentiate between people at home and people outside. He is equally affable to all. But there were times when I have gone ballistic worrying about his safety as he would saunter off on his own at times, though within the residential compound. However, people working within the compound have grown to look out for him as he is ever-smiling, and most of the times bring him back home,” shares Madhusudan. Autism is not just a litany of inadequacies. It also has some unexpected strengths. “Autism is a state of being, a unique energy signature. At the lower frequencies the symptoms dominate, and at the higher frequencies of energies, the talents flower,” says Dr Rajalakshmi Kandaswamy, healer and consultant in applied energy medicine. The most common gift that all children with autism are born with is the gift of telepathy. These children easily tune into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of not only their parents and caregivers, but also of other people whom they feel connected to, across distances and even in other dimensions. Now, if what they are telepathically connecting with is healthy and positive for them, this ability manifests in the form of excellence in healing abilities, art, singing, music and other creative abilities well beyond what may be usually expected for their age, and sometimes intellectual capabilities that scale the ‘genius’ level. There are innumerable autistic savants very gifted in music, in mathematics and other fields. Many of these gifts and talents are purely the result of intense and consistent focus on a particular subject of interest to them. It is the result of tuning in and tapping into the larger field of intelligence which their passionate nature channels in ways that manifest as gifts and talents. An alternative perspective Dr Rajalakshmi defines ASD as a spectrum of limiting symptoms that reflects the whole range of fragmented human emotions suppressed in every human being due to emotional policing in the name of “fitting into society and cultural conditioning.” According to her, the root cause of ASD is energy disturbance. “Autistic beings are a new species on this planet. They are extremely energy sensitive and are born with their connection to the larger field of intelligence very much in place. They remember who they really are, and their connection to this Universal field of Intelligence, or God, to use a more common phrase. Autistic beings are born with the knowingness of their connection to the Infinite and their multi-dimensional and eternal nature,” she says. As per Dr Rajalakshmi, since they are highly sensitive energy beings with poor energy boundaries, more often than not they get affected by the energies of people around them, especially their parents and care-givers. This, in addition to the fact that they are highly telepathic makes them tune in to the thoughts and energies of people and reflect back whatever needs to be healed in the person whose energies they are tuning into. People on the spectrum are also affected by the energies of the things in their environment including food, pesticides, toxins, often causing issues with digestion and increased susceptibility to illnesses due to poor immunity. Researchers are still not able to put a finger to the exact cause of autism. However, energy healers recognize that there is a soul contract between the child with autism and the parents who give birth to and raise the child. The sooner this contract is recognized and acknowledged, the sooner parents and the child can move on to the specifics of re-defining the contract in a positive, empowering way. This would serve both the child and the parents in a manner that can allow the unique gifts and talents in the autistic child to bloom, and for the child with autism to thrive with joy. “My ei
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