Although the connection between children with autism and the spiritual world is not commonly written about in scientific studies on the topic, it seems to be an area that is being increasingly explored by caregivers and professionals alike. A 2013 article published in Psychology Today explores autism, children, and the spiritual world, claiming that children with this condition are more likely than children without this disorder to have paranormal experiences and be generally more in touch with their spiritual side. The article states that “unseen beings” are particularly drawn to autistic children because they have traits that make them more receptive to the such experiences that deny scientific explanation such as extreme sensitivity and honesty. The same report indicates that many parents have reported that their autistic child claims to see and hear people who are not there and that the parents themselves, at first skeptical, have later experienced dreams and other coincidences and saw and have heard strange things that make them suspect that there could be some truth in what their child claimed to be experiencing.
Several internet websites and discussion forums are dedicated to exploring the connections between the spiritual side of children with autism and ASD. A Google search on children with autism and the spiritual connection yields numerous discussion forums and blogs that query the possible link between autistic children and clairvoyance, many of them from concerned parents hoping for answers and support. Similarly, the website Perceptive Children, set up to respond to and validate the psychic experiences of children, features a book called “Autism and the God Connection” by William Stillman, an autism expert and prolific author on autism, children, and the spiritual world. The book is a compilation of the experiences of autistic children with animals, spirits, and mind reading and he even claims that they possess the ability to communicate telepathically.
In addition to this, there have been several new studies dedicated to kids with autism and the spiritual world in recent years, although it seems that literature on the topic is still lacking. A 2009 article by Mitzi Waltz, lecturer at the Autism Centre of Sheffield Hallam University, examines several “new age” beliefs about autism and the effects these may have on the way parents, autistics, and practitioners view and treat children with autism and ASD.
A 2013 book by Olga Bogdashina, a researcher at the Autism Institute at Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University in Russia, entitled Autism and Spirituality: Psyche, Self and Spirit in People on the Autism Spectrum, claims that spirituality is actually a huge influence in the lives of people with autism and ASD. The author draws on numerous fields ranging from linguistics to religion and neuroscience as well as testimonials to back up her claims.
Since autism and autism spectrum diagnoses are becoming more common among U.S. children, there seems to be a need to explore these disorders from all angles, including a spiritual one. The new studies mentioned here offer a new dimension to our knowledge on autism and bring awareness to the connection between autistic children and the spiritual world that is not widely considered when caregiving or counseling to people who live with these disorders.
By Amber Workman