Check out Terri’s new book: Entities-R-Us Book is on Amazon!.
Since April is Autism Awareness Month what better time to comment on a book which not only offers a unique perspective on autism but also bristles with paranormal overtones. AUTISM and the GOD CONNECTION by William Stillman is such a book.
Before I get into my commentary on Bill’s book however, I would like to give you a brief and hopefully simplified overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder, usually identified by the acronym ASD (for the sake of brevity I will use ‘ASD’ when referring to autism throughout the remainder of this article).
♦ Autism Spectrum Disorder ♦
As I said, I’d like to keep this simple and present some key points of ASD under the assumption that many of you who read this are either totally unfamiliar or know very little about autism. I’m giving you this sort of ‘introduction’ not only as a lead into my commentary about Bill Stillman’s book Autism and the God Connection but also because many of you will know someone or someone who cares for someone on the autism spectrum sometime throughout your life.
According to the CDC: Currently, “It is estimated that an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD.”* I use the word ‘currently’ as it seems stats on ASD are ever-changing . Simply stated ASD is a neuro-biological disorder involving impaired social interaction, significant difficulties in understanding verbal and nonverbal communication, and exhibiting repetitive and challenging behaviors. It has no cure. Children with autism will become adults with autism! No definitive cause for ASD has been determined although genetics does play a role but as many as 100 genes may be involved. Symptoms should manifest before 3 years of age but unfortunately diagnosis usually occurs a few years later. Mental retardation can co-exist with ASD but is by no means always the case. On the average 41 % of children with an ASD exhibit an Intellectual Disability meaning an IQ below 70.* Early intervention is the key to positive outcomes for children on the autism spectrum and the earlier the intervention the better. Children with ASD show a preference for structure and predictability and frequently respond well to treatment based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Something I would like to bring to light here is that although many of us like a predictable, daily routine, we usually do not overreact if we circumstantially and periodically need to deviate from our daily routine. Not so with many folks with ASD. Sometimes even a slight change in their normal schedule can have devastating effects! Children and adults with ASD are not going to accommodate us so we need to accommodate them to the best of our abilities. There are many more facts and detailed explanations concerning autism throughout the lifespan which I will not go into here. However there is something I would like to add. As noted ASD commonly presents with 3 core deficits sometimes called the “Autism Triad.” In addition to impairments in communication, impairments in social interaction and repetitive and limited interests and behaviors we might add a fourth, sensory processing disorder or sensory sensitivities. Many times individuals with ASD exhibit significant tactile, olfactory, and especially visual and auditory sensitivities. New research indicates that there appears to be a preponderance of gray matter in those parts of the brain responsible for processing visual and auditory stimuli. Many of us exhibit some sensory sensitivities perhaps to fluorescent lights, certain types of noise, or even the way our clothing rubs on a certain part of our body to name just a few. In someone with ASD, however, these sensations are much more pronounced. In fact so pronounced it can cause a person to be extremely restless or even engage in aggressive behaviors until they obtain some relief from the irritating stimuli. When I was designing or consulting on designing a productive learning environment for adults with ASD, sensory sensitivities were always in the forefront of consideration. This leads to the question: Is it possible that many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder could also present with ‘special sensitivities or heightened spiritual or ‘paranormal’ perceptions?’
♦ Autism and the God Connection – a book by William Stillman ♦
William Stillman is an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome and has published numerous books on Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Bipolar Disorder to name a few. In addition Bill has appeared on national television and writes a column for the quarterly magazine The Autism perspective and is active in the autism self-advocacy movement. Through his autism workshops and private consultations he offers a unique perspective on autism through his humanistic point of view. I have attended Bill’s presentations and they have touched me deeply as well as taught me something about myself in the process.
Autism and the God Connection copyright 2006 is the first book in Stillman’s Autism and the God Connection trilogy which includes The Soul of Autism & The Autism Prophecies et al.
Autism and the God Connection is a ‘must read’ for many of you who are not only interested in autism but autism and its possible connection to psychic phenomena and paranormal encounters. Although Stillman approaches these events from a mostly spiritual perspective, through his travels as a private autism consultant for people on the spectrum and through the willingness of people to share their sometimes unusual experiences while caring for someone on the autism spectrum he has compiled some compelling stories of clairvoyance, telepathy, spirit communication and connections, aura perception, and ‘hauntings’ Bill supplements these experiences with some of the finer points of his humanistic perspective on autism. He explains it in a way that inspires and brings to light the unique attributes of people with autism and also discusses the awakening of his own spirituality. Bill proposes that the senses of people with autism “vibrate at a frequency different from most.” which in turn makes them highly sensitive and emotional beings. Stillman also infers that autism may be more a “gift” than a hindrance given the sensitive, spiritual nature of people on the spectrum.
It is understandable that raising a loved one with autism many times cultivates an atmosphere of confusion,desperation–and even hostility. The last thing a parent wants to hear is that their child is a ‘Godsend’ or spiritual prophet! Although Autism and the God Connection seemingly implies that, at the same time it offers another perspective on a profound and sometimes mysterious disorder. Perhaps just a flicker of light and hope in the darkness.
Whether you are caring for someone on the autism spectrum, interested in learning a bit more about ASD, a Psychic or paranormal enthusiast or are looking for some illuminating and spiritual food for the soul this book will fit your needs.
If you feel a loved one that you care for may be experiencing psychic phenomena or spirit communication or encounters, I’d love to hear your story, of course confidentiality will be respected. You can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org ~JJA
You’ve finally decided you’d like to go find some ghosts but need some basic pointers on paranormal investigation including what equipment you might want to bring along, and oh, how about a good explanation of just what an entity is? Well just grab your copy of HOW TO HUNT GHOSTS -A Practical Guide by Joshua P. Warren and you’ll be ready to conquer any haunted house or apparition filled prison, well…partly. In my humble opinion, the written word is no substitute for actual physical participation in a paranormal investigation with an experienced team or individual, but that’s another article for another time.
HOW TO HUNT GHOSTS et al copyright 2003 is the creation of Joshua P. Warren. Warren is the founder and president of L.E.M.U.R. a paranormal research team and has made numerous appearances on TV and radio networks. Unlike the authors of the other paranormal books I’ve reviewed, I have never met or spoken with Mr. Warren.
The contents of the book adequately support the title. The book is layed out in two sections. The first section touches on everything from entities to naturals in addition to a wide range of paranormal phenomena and terminology and Warren convincingly presents all topics in a balanced fashion for the most part. His commentary and analysis go a bit deeper than just superficial explanations and this presents for an interesting, informative read.
The second and final section of HOW TO HUNT GHOSTS deals with the ‘Whys, Wheres, and Whats’ of ghost hunting including something on just about every common piece of para-equipment extant. Joshua continues on with the logistics of an investigation and some pointers on strategies if you in fact, find paranormal activity. Last but not least Warren cleverly includes examples of a “Ghost Research Log, and an Interview Form for Owner/Resident in the appendices and a list of “Equipment Resources.”
Overall HOW TO HUNT GHOSTS - A Practical Guide would be a welcome addition to any novice para-investigator’s library. However I must caution the reader that Warren makes a few controversial statements which are a bit biased and which some readers may take offense to:
 He lends a somewhat more credence to orbs than is currently fashionable.
 He asserts that it is perfectly ethical to charge for services (investigations) as long as payment does not influence the integrity of the work.
 He states that: “…many professional psychics are frauds.”
If you can get past a little biased thinking the book is a good primer for the beginning paranormal investigator. ~JJA
Upcoming Posts in Voices of October:
~ Book Commentary on Autism and the God Connection by William Stillman – something a bit different…
~ Transcript of my interview with a local newspaper.
~’Augmentative Spirit Communication’
If you’re tired of the ‘same-old, same-old’ in books about the paranormal; bored with reading compilations of case files and personal encounters; have begun questioning the applicability and validity of the current investigative methodologies then you might want to read GHOST EXCAVATOR Unearthing the Drama in the Mine Fields, Copyright 2007 by John G. Sabol Jr. This book definitely stimulates the gray matter in addition to weaving a ghostly tale exemplified by the ethnic and cultural history of the Mahanoy area.
The author, John Sabol, has an impressive list of credentials and has been involved in paranormal investigation and research well before some of the self-proclaimed ‘leaders in the field’ had even seen the light of day. I spent some time visiting with John in his home in Mahanoy City in Eastern Pennsylvania the black heart of the hard coal fields . We discussed his latest book, along with his experiences, fieldwork and methodologies.
GHOST EXCAVATOR et al is Sabol’s first book and is basically in two parts. Through skillful use of vivid imagery Sabol successfully paints a picture of the “haunted” landscape of the anthracite fields of eastern of Pennsylvania in the first part. Delving deep into the origins of the local folklore and urban legends as a function of ethnic struggles and survival in this harsh environment. I was born and raised about 15 miles from John and can truly relate to what he imparts. I experienced a childhood much like he did growing up amid the culm banks and the remnants of coal breakers and abandoned deep mines. While trying to remain unbiased as I write this I must say that Sabol was no longer the sole owner of his experiences and subjective interpretations, as I read this book they became mine also, as memories resurfaced and crystallized. In his descriptions and perceptions of this stark landscape Sabol sets the stage for the second part of his book.
Borrowing from the fields of archeology, ethnography and anthropology Sabol attempts to construct a new and fascinating multidisciplinary methodology of ghost research, and here is where things get a bit confusing. this section of the book is fraught with new terminology, acronyms, and labels that John has created to introduce and explain his theory. Perhaps a degree in one of the disciplines mentioned above would be helpful. I emailed John concerning the complexity of this section of Ghost Excavator…and he obligingly replied that he appreciated my honesty and that sometimes he forgets that he is not lecturing to a college class–or something along those lines. Nevertheless, John has gone where few authors go and even fewer succeed that is: proposing a unique research methodology of paranormal investigation that probes deeper into haunting phenomena than just the “Horizontal sweeps and Ghost watches” that are the standard of most investigators.
You will either love or hate this book–and if you’re somewhere in the middle after the initial read–read it again to make a final determination. I read it three times. If I label a few other books I’ve commented on, ‘paranormal fast food,’ than Ghost Excavator et al is exotic dining for the paranormal connoisseur–but you don’t always have to like what you eat. ~ JJA
You might want to visit John Sabol’s C.A.S.P.E.R. Research Center @ http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeoqapc/ghostexcavator/index.html
The following stories are presented as strictly subjective personal experiences and not as documented paranormal events. All events portrayed here can be attributed to imagination, coincidence or other natural causes. ~ JJA
I had never given much thought about animal spirits or animal hauntings even though I’ve had many finned, feathered, and furry family members throughout my lifetime. A few strange occurrences over the past few years have caused me to rethink my position on the possibility of visitations from some dearly departed pets.
∞ MANDY ∞
About 5 years ago we lost our beloved dog, Mandy to natural causes. Mandy was a Giant Alaskan Malamute bred with timber wolf and weighed in at 171 lbs. at the time of her passing. The average lifespan for this breed of dog is from 10-12 years. Mandy lived to the ripe old age of 15. I insisted that Mandy be buried in our back yard along with a number of our other deceased pets. Our soil is very rocky and crisscrossed with large tree roots which take a chainsaw to cut through. Needless to say it took me most of a morning to dig a grave large enough to accommodate a very large dog in addition to a litter of fifteen of her favorite stuffed animals-her babies, as we liked to call them. After putting the finishing touches on her gravesite I felt Mandy was where she would want to be–peacefully at rest in the back yard–or was she?!
Our deck runs the entire width of the house and Mandy liked to spend many a day pacing back and forth from one end of the deck to the other, the floor boards constantly creaking and groaning. To make a long story short, a week or two after Mandy’s death I began hearing what sounded like the floor boards on the deck squeaking repetitively–the same sound they made when Mandy used to carry out her relentless march. I kind of brushed the sounds off as my imagination. A few weeks later Mandy came up, for whatever reason, in a conversation between my wife and I. I said to my wife, ‘You know, I would swear it sounds like her (Mandy) walking back and forth on the deck sometimes.’ “I hear that to,” replied my wife. We both looked at each other and laughed.
I don’t know when it is we both stopped hearing (or imagining) the sounds of Mandy walking the deck as we never really mentioned it to each other again. At twilight on warm summer nights, I occasionally go to the backyard to watch the bats perform their aerial displays and watch the fireflies rise from the grass. Sometimes I”ll think I see what appears to be a dark, moving shadow near the tree where Mandy is buried–guess I’ll never really know.
∞ COCOA ∞
Cockatiels are interesting birds–sometimes you absolutely adore them and other times you think some big black crow you caught in the backyard would make a better pet! No matter, I talked my wife into letting me buy one (a cockatiel not a crow!) for my birthday back in 2004. She was mostly yellow in color with some highlights of peach and white. We named her Tiki. Prior to purchasing Tiki I had taken a liking to cockatiels because a friend of ours had a grey male named Cocoa. Cocoa was about 13 years old and had been given to our friend by someone who basically just didn’t want the bird anymore. Male cockatiels learn to talk easier than females do and Cocoa was definitely a verbose bird!
Tiki settled in to our household with some difficult moments at times mostly because of being weaned prematurely. After having Tiki for a year or so our friend asked if we could take Cocoa for a brief period while she painted the first floor of her house. Of course we agreed and she promptly delivered Cocoa and cage (and mysteriously everything else that belonged to Cocoa-including a spare cage)) to our house a few days later. Cocoa being a male and Tiki a female–well you know how it goes–they took to each other immediately. As I mentioned previously, Cocoa had quite the vocabulary. He could whistle “Up on the Housetop” in its entirety and from everyone saying “Hi Cocoa” over the years, he could say “Hi Cocoa” as clear as it could possibly be! Tiki learned “Hi Cocoa” in no time and would use it throughout the course of the day–and appropriately at times. So you had one bird saying hi to itself and another bird saying hi to the other bird–quite the circus! The birds could not leave each other’s sight without raising a nerve racking ruckus! A year later our friend told us she really didn’t want Cocoa back ( Hmm-like we hadn’t figured this out by now!). Needless to say there were too many issues with the two birds and we really didn’t want to keep Cocoa either but we agreed to house him until she could find him a new home. A short time later Cocoa moved in with a school teacher and over time we would hear that he was doing well and his new owner loved him dearly. Cocoa lived almost another 2 happy years before taking wing for bird heaven or wherever it is that deceased birds go-if they go that is.
Getting back to Tiki, she had adjusted well to Cocoa going to a new home thank goodness as we had some concerns since they were so attached to each other. Although Tiki continued to whistle fragments of “Up on the Housetop,” which she had learned from Cocoa, she stopped saying “Hi Cocoa” completely after a few weeks. We did not hear it again until one day, not long after Cocoa had passed on, Tiki out of the blue suddenly said “Hi Cocoa” My wife and I both looked up at her cage and noticed that she was sitting on her perch staring off in the opposite direction almost as if she was looking at something. Tiki repeated this several times and then abruptly stopped. Over the course of the next few months Tiki would verbalize “Hi Cocoa” occasionally for short periods. My wife and I both wondered if maybe…just maybe, Cocoa was paying a visit from the ‘other side’ when Tiki would display this behavior. Of course it could have been due to spontaneous recovery of the verbal behavior– obviously a more worldly explanation! Whatever the cause Tiki has not repeated this for a long time now but you never know…
∞ BOONIE ∞
This is a little bit different from the stories above but since I’m on the subject of animals and possible paranormal phenomena I thought I should include it here. Boonie is one of two of my cherished NewFoundlands and I’m happy to say: ‘alive and healthy!’ I’ll briefly relate what happened: While lying in bed watching TV the other night with Boonie also on the bed and asleep at my feet (yes, the 160 lb. NewFy not only sleeps in our bed but he and his brother are also giant lap dogs!) I began thinking of how attached I am to these dogs–probably more attached then I’ve ever been to any other pet I had. I know that NewFoundlands have short lifespans relative to other dogs and I was thinking how much too short that is. I began getting myself upset thinking about what I would do if and when something happens to them–all this while I was staring expressionless at the television. Suddenly Boonie, who had been fast asleep and snoring, crawled up on to my chest, his two front paws on my shoulders, looked at me with the saddest expression I’d ever seen and then began kissing my face incessantly! Did Boonie sense what I was thinking–and was this his way of consoling me?! It does make one wonder… ~ JJA
Commentary on Jeff Belanger’s book – The Ghost Files – Paranormal Encounters, Discussion, and ResearchPosted in Paranormal Books on March 3, 2010 by voicesofoctober
Jeff Belanger is no stranger to the world of paranormal phenomena. He is not only an author of numerous books on the subject but also happens to be the founder of Ghostvillage.com, purported to be the most popular paranormal website extant. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff in April of 2009 during a TAPS “Beyond Reality Event” at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. I found him to be personable and intelligent yet surprisingly humble. I enjoyed our chat following one of his presentations and promised to buy at least one of his books.
Needless to say I have read 4 of Jeff’s books since we met including the one I’ve just completed, and the subject of this commentary: THE GHOST FILES Paranormal Encounters, Discussion, and Research. Copyright 2007.
I found this book entertaining, interesting and informative to say the least and I could have probably read all 200 + pages in one sitting but chose to make it last. The content of the book adequately supports the title. If you’re like me, then it seems you are never satiated when it comes to reading about people’s personal encounters with the ‘other side’ and Belanger includes plenty of these subjective occurrences! Selected from the archives of Ghostvillage.com, Jeff recounts the personal experiences pretty much verbatim with little if any editing adding a bit of insight or food for thought at the end of each. Belanger also includes chapters on a wide variety of topics such as psychics and spirit communication to name just a few, including some history on their origins and evolution. He occasionally intersperses some personal encounters in these chapters to supplement the particular subject.
Although Belanger’s GHOST FILES offers no groundbreaking methodologies or new research in the area of paranormal phenomena and I would list it under the genre of ‘Paranormal Fast Food,’ it does provide a good, entertaining read for the ‘paranormal junkie’ who enjoys reading about personal encounters and general paranormal subject matter. I found it a pleasurable read and I also read research papers and books on Quantum Theory.
So if you want an interesting and entertaining read without having a PH.D. and a Thesaurus at your fingertips, definitely get yourself a copy of Jeff Belanger’s THE GHOST FILES … As with the other books I’ve read by Jeff–I wasn’t disappointed. ~ JJA
In the Woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania – A Discourse on Deer Hunting, Nature Spirits, and Altered States of Consciousness.Posted in General on January 28, 2010 by voicesofoctober
Frankly I am no stranger to the forest lands of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Being an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman I have spent many a day tramping through the woods on my way to somewhere-or nowhere at all. The woodlands have always been my friend, an ever-present retreat from the stress of this fast paced life. Ever-changing yet always the same. A place of wonder and beauty-of loneliness and decay.
Early December in Northeastern Pennsylvania ushers in the Buck hunting season once again. The forests are an ash grey pruned by the cold November winds and sometimes whitewashed by new fallen snow. Most of the birds have long gone to wherever it is they go but the Chickadees always remain, flitting from branch to branch and complaining loudly about one thing or another. Their gray, white, and black colors blending well with the somber forestscape.
This day began for me like countless others in the Pennsylvania deer hunting season. I was up in the wee hours of the morning and into the woods before first light. It was a cold, crisp December morning and the leaves crackled under my feet as I attempted to settle in to my spot. My back planted firmly against a tree, I sat motionless waiting for the first hint of light to peek over the treeline signaling the dawn of a new day.
This year I had chosen a new location from which to hunt my prey and I had been coming here for three mornings now. There was nothing particularly different about this area from any other place in the general area. Most of the woodlands around me are second-growth forest, the old growth forest timbered out over a century ago when the land was raped and layed to waist by the ravenous timber companies. The giant White Pines that once covered the ridges, valleys and swamps quickly fell victim to the axe and saw ultimately becoming ghosts of their former selves in the many sawmills on the banks of swift flowing streams–the drone of the mills echoing endlessly through the hollows and draws of the Appalachians. What remained now were mostly leaf-bearing trees with a white pine here and there like solemn sentinels- reminders of the former grandeur of the Northeastern PA forests. But the past is the past; what is done is done–or is it?
As the forest slowly came into view weakly illuminated by rising sun-a reversal of evening twilight-I thought I noticed movement among the trees. ‘Wait! There it was again!’ As a seasoned game hunter my senses have been trained to go into hyperdrive at the slightest indication of movement or noise. Vision becomes finely tuned zeroing in and focusing on the area of movement. Auditory processes do the same, head cocking and turning towards the determined direction of noise. Tactile sensation heightens immensely as hands slide quickly over the firearm instantly locating trigger and safety simultaneously. The weapon is gripped firmly but delicately in anticipation. No, these movements weren’t deer-or any other animal or bird or insect for that matter. At first I attributed it to a trick of the light but, as I’ve made clear, Ive spent much time in the forest and movement such as this I had never experienced before. It was subtle but all around me. Very small shadows blocking out the light between branches and scrub. I remember cracking a smile, free associating and laughing to myself, ‘Wraiths, faeries hmm. I have invaded the woodland realm of …’ The movement seemed to dissipate but every once in a while I thought I saw it again although not as frequently.
The sun had almost completed its slow ascent above the treeline within view. I settled back against my tree in anticipation of my long vigil. As I scanned the area, my head moving slowly in a semi-circle I suddenly felt extremely relaxed, as one with the forest. I noticed every tree, upright or fallen and an overwhelming realization washed through me. I remember thinking how beautiful this all is, this whole earth-the woodlands and streams. How fortunate we are to have all of this within our grasp. I had been relaxed in the woods before-but not like this! I became cognizant of something else; I didn’t feel like it was me–or it was me thinking this (Very difficult to explain), yet I sensed something–something very old. As I processed these newfound feelings the beauty around me seeming to course through my veins; to the very depth of my soul, a question suddenly materialized and was brought to the forefront of conscious thought: ‘WHY! With all of this beauty around us; here for us; why can man not live harmoniously with nature–with each other?! What is so difficult about it?! The absurdity of it was suddenly crystal clear to me. It had never been so clear before. Emotions welled up inside me as images flashed through my head. In what must have been a few seconds, I visualized what seemed to be every war that man had ever fought for thousands of years–from the beginning of recorded time. I saw man fighting man; swords thrusting, guns firing, explosions and mayhem–and I wept as the eternal question “WHY?” repeated itself over and over. As the tears subsided and the visions faded along with it went the feeling of inner peace which I had experienced previously. I began to feel my old stressed-out self again.
What had happened?! Had I psychically connected with The Memory of Trees from Celtic folklore? The Celts considered trees to be sacred and repositories of memory, lore and the presence of spirit-beings-or was it an Elemental’s cruel joke? First imparting on me a sense of well-being and one with nature; then telepathically implying: “Now here is man, see what he has done!”
I returned to the same area for two days after my experience this past December of 2009. Nothing unusual happened again. I will be sure to return to those woodlands this spring and many times thereafter. I will never forget the day I wept; the day the forest wept-for all of us. ~ JJA
“Once there is a certain degree of Presence, of still and alert attention in human beings’ perceptions, they can sense the divine life essence, the one indwelling consciousness or spirit in every creature, every life-form, recognize it as one with their own essence and so love it as themselves.” (From: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle 1999)