“Your son is in a constant state of trying to return to the ecstasy of death.”
The words hit me hard and I felt instantly sick. Why would my five-year old son Jack want to die?
We were sitting in a little house in Vermont when the shaman made that statement. I had recently read Rupert Isaacson’s The Horse Boy, a story about a family that traveled on horseback through Mongolia in search of the shamans that would heal their autistic son.
I wanted a shaman to heal my autistic son.
So I found one.
The shaman explained that “the ecstasy of death” was not the end as I had once imagined. She used words like nirvana, euphoria, connection to all, and oneness. It was like Jack was retreating from humanity.
That was six years ago and I had just about exhausted all of the biomedical therapies for autism. I had flown all over the country with Jack, meeting every autism doctor, therapist, and healer that offered hope of fixing my son, as if he was broken.
But the meeting with the shaman opened up a new possibility. What if Jack was not the one who was broken?
What if the collective struggle humanity faces as a people and a planet is more broken than autism?
We live with unfathomable stress, anxiety, and fear. We are depressed and overworked and largely dissatisfied with our jobs, relationships, and lives. It’s shrugged off as the norm. The way it is.
We live on a planet that is being poisoned and pillaged. There are wars and genocides and all kinds of crimes against humanity carried out daily. Each year, 3.5 million children die from starvation.
We need help. Desperately.
What if autism could open us up to this help?
What if we stop trying to force these kids into our version of normal, and start embracing their message – fear, judgment and the need to fix is the old paradigm. They are here to help us create the new “normal” where acceptance and understanding rule. This approach will unlock their potential.
While it is certainly true that children with autism have physical ailments and obstacles to overcome, they experience a different world than you and I.
They have uncanny artistic, musical, mathematical, and engineering capabilities. I am constantly reminded of my son’s brilliance when he solves a “brain-teaser” puzzle in five minutes even though it would take me hours. Or his ability to correctly identify all the musical notes played simultaneously on a piano, a talent defined as perfect pitch.
Some children with autism “see” people speak. They see colors dancing around the room that are aligned with the mood of the speaker. An angry person spews jaundiced yellows while a happy person projects glistening, rich greens.
Furthermore, they are actually more empathic and in tune with our feelings than we are. My son is the barometer for what is going on in my household. When there is harmony, Jack emerges. When there is discord, he retreats. The pattern is so obvious that my husband and I joke about it now. He mirrors us.
Their reality is beyond the scope of what we accept in our reality because they have advanced sensory systems, but they are totally misunderstood.
Autism is presenting us with a new paradigm. The promise, as I have seen with my own son, is that letting go of this idea that they are broken and seeking to understand their world, creates an environment for our children to connect with us.
This opens the door to the life we dream of for our children and ourselves.
Be Contagious – Love and Joy are Worth Spreading
Andrea Libutti, M.D. is a physician passionate about holistic health and living. She has extensive knowledge about autism from both a physical and spiritual perspective. She has been a speaker at national autism conferences and loves educating people about autism. Her mission is to inspire people to make positive changes in their lives, paving the way for a kinder world. She graduated with a medical degree from the University of Southern California and lives in eastern Long Island with her husband and three boys.