By Lea M. Hill —
In a recent edition of The Los Angeles Huffington Post, a young boy named Jacob Artson had been mis-labeled as mentally retarded for the first seven years of his life. The article touts a “miracle” when the nonverbal Jacob suddenly demonstrated ability to read and write after working with a therapist who uses facilitated communication. Although it’s wonderful that Jacob’s abilities are being celebrated, I can’t help but think that the real “miracle” is that Jacob was finally correctly diagnosed as nonverbal autistic and not mentally retarded. He already knew how to read and write, he just had no way of showing it.
Although I am not autistic, I have deep empathy for someone like Jacob who feels all the feelings that everyone else does yet has an inability to express them. From the time I was a young child, I was seeing the “unseen” world. I would see lights and shadows moving across the room, feel the presence of a spirit close to me, and hear my name being called when there was no one there. I didn’t know what was happening but I did know that no one around me was having these experiences, and if they did, they certainly weren’t talking about it.
As I got older these experiences became more prevalent and, out of fear, I shut down my abilities (as much as I could) by pretending that I didn’t really see and hear what I was seeing and hearing. The fear of being ostracized or labeled as a freak would have been too much for me so I isolated myself, retreating to my own little world instead of reaching out to make friends, or play sports, or join the school play. It was safer, I decided, for me to be the introvert and focus on my schoolwork and the tangible world. Well, that strategy (sort of) worked into my adult life until after many years of hiding, I was finally able to accept myself for who I am.
Now that I work and volunteer with families with loved ones on the autism spectrum, I sense the emotions of these amazing people. I hear the words they want to speak, whether they are verbal or not, I see the pictures they see in their minds, and I feel the powerful feelings they want to communicate.
Now I’m not the only one who can do this, you can too. It has nothing to do with being psychic it’s simply having awareness of the connection we all have. Just because you weren’t born with special abilities doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to build pathways to a heart-to-heart connection with your child. I’m no different than you, it’s just that I have a natural proclivity to it as one who might be naturally good at playing the piano. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn the play the piano, it’s just that you might need to practice more than someone else. But when you think about the payoff for your efforts, isn’t it worth it?
Think about the benefits to you and your family if you knew that your child, such as Jacob Artson, was misdiagnosed. Not only could it save a lot of time, money, and effort by providing the resources your child needs but it would initiate a deeper, more loving connection with your child that goes beyond verbal or written words. And you can’t put a price on that.
Understand that all beings want to communicate. Even if your child shows no outward signs of it - he may not be making eye contact, he may be repeating behaviors over and over, or he may be smashing your TV set but he IS communicating. I believe there is no such thing as “random behavior”. Every behavior has an intention behind it.
So how can you learn to understand what’s behind your child’s autistic behaviors? Well the first place to start is very simple, just set the intention in your mind that you want to reach out to your child through a heart-to-heart connection. That’s it. When you do this, your awareness naturally moves to your heart center, the place where we are all connected. And from that place, incredible things can happen. One client of mine tried this and learned that her son was still grieving the death of his grandfather two years later. She was then able to help him express his grief and move through it.
What I find most often is that the person with autism will meet you halfway if you just make an effort to reach out to him. Once you’ve set your intention, you many see changes in your child’s behavior immediately because most people with autism are energetically sensitive that way. But if not, don’t worry, it make take a little while for your child to realize your intention.
Even if you did nothing else, this simple practice alone could build harmony within the family and avoid potentially dangerous meltdowns. For example, parents often ask me what they should do in that intense moment when they sense an impending meltdown. You know the signs... your child suddenly becomes obstinate and gets “that look” in his eyes. Yup, you only see the warning signs in an instant but you know it’s coming and soon enough, he’s smashing your TV set.
What I’ve found to be the most effective way to lessen the impact of these meltdowns, is to simply stop for a moment as soon as you see the warning signs, look at your child, and place your hand on your heart. Try it. If nothing else, it’ll help relax you and allow you to think more clearly in the chaotic situation but what I think the real effect will be is that your child will instantly sense your attempt at making that connection. You might be surprised by how well this works.
Let’s hope that kids like Jacob Artson are no longer mislabeled, misdiagnosed, or mistreated. So instead of accepting everyone else’s judgment or label of your autistic child based on his outward behaviors, make an effort for a deeper, more loving connection with him. And who better to make that connection than you?
Lea M. Hill is an author, intuitive medium, energy healing practitioner, and autism advocate. As a child who could not and/or would not express her feelings, Lea has an empathic connection with those on the autism spectrum. She dedicates her life to giving voice to those who need to be heard, whether they have verbal capabilities or not.
Lea is the author of two forthcoming books, The Society of Sylphs, a young adult fantasy novel involving a nonverbal boy with autism and The Autism Spirit: Pathways to Connection through the Heart. She offers presentations and workshops helping parents build pathways to connection through the heart and ways to have a deeper, more loving connection with their children on the spectrum.
Lea holds a B.S. in marketing and an MBA from Northeastern University. She is also a Reiki Master, Certified Angel Healing Practitioner©, and a Vortex Healing® Energy Healing Practitioner.