On ASD and “AUTISM and the GOD CONNECTION” by William Stillman
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: email@example.com ~JJA