About Autism

About Autism

At IPMT 2018, Mumbai

Anthroposophy can be translated as “the wisdom of the Human Being”.

Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophy Movement, was a clairvoyant or, a ‘jnani’ in Indian terms.

He could perceive beyond what could be perceived by the five senses. However, he was also scientific in his approach. People from various occupations would go to him for advice and the lectures that he would give these groups of doctors, teachers, painters, farmers, and architects would become the bible for those who practiced anthroposophy through their own individual professions.

He gave a series of twelve lectures to teachers working with children with special needs. He would refer to this field as Curative Education that is, an education that was therapeutic for the children “who needed soul care”.

Rudolf Steiner taught that behind the challenged physical bodies that the children manifested, lay a spirit that was intact- a spirit that was a perfect creation of the cosmos. The spirit intentionally chose a body that was challenged in order to fulfill a certain karmic purpose.

The curative educators would address that ‘intact spirit’ that was behind the apparently dysfunctional physical body and care for the child with utmost reverence and dedication and honor the karmic choice.

Not only the child needed the teacher’s love and care, but the teacher needed to care for the child in order to fulfill his or her own karmic purpose. It would be an equal relationship.

Rudolf Steiner could see and help us comprehend with the help of pure thinking that a human being is more than just a physical body. A subtle force breathes life into this body that is made up of organic matter. There is a soul that helps a human being to be impacted by and in turn, impact the world through the three soul forces of thinking, feeling and willing. Last but not the least, an eternal spirit that connects us to the source and organizes all aspects of human functioning permeates the human being.

This and various other spiritual conceptualizations of the human better way. This understanding forms the basis of various antroposophically based professional practices including curative education, medicine, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, education, Community and Organizational development and many more.

It breathes life into our work and renders us more humane in our approach to everything that we do in the world and helps expand our world view.

Having said that as is expected in our outcome-based world, this approach leads to lasting improvements in the quality of life of not only the client but also their families as this is not just an approach but also a way of life and a spiritual path.

If this resonates with you and if you would like to learn more about this philosophy, please come and be a part of the Curative Education course at the IPMT 2018, a seven day retreat at Mumbai, to delve deeper into understanding and applications of the true essence of the human being.

UNDERSTANDING AUTISM AND SPECIAL NEEDS FROM AN ANTHROPOSOPHIC PERSPECTIVE

The branch of anthroposophy that works with Special Needs, is called Curative Education. Without going into the details of the spiritual-scientific principles, we would like to mention the concepts that was found useful for all children, but more so those with autism, ADHD, Learning disabilities, sensory processing and developmental disorders. These concepts are now more widely accepted in the mainstream society.

-- A child’s behavior, emotional state and ability to learn depend on his well-being and his internal health. A healthy child is a happy child. No amount of therapies can yield complete benefit until the child is feeling well and balanced. For this, it is important to look into what he eats, when he eats, when and how much he sleeps, what he does during the day, his lifestyle, the environment at home and so on. This is much in line with the principles of Ayurveda.

-- Autism is known as a neurological disorder. However, like Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy said about almost a hundred years ago, it has a lot to do with metabolism and gut health as it is being widely accepted these days and parents are seeing amazing results with special diets like the wheat, milk, sugar free and other diets.

-- A child with autism has an intact intellect (unless there’s comorbidity with other conditions). However, the body doesn’t cooperate with the mind. Therefore therapists need to focus more on the physical body with movement, balance, core muscle development, reflex integration, physical fitness, massages, sports, horse riding, walking, trekking, etc., to help the child ground into his body, to become aware of his body, so that his body is able to access the intellect that is already present and use it to function more productively in this world. In other words, improve the mind body connect. This is the reason that Occupational therapy, when done effectively, yields positive results.

-- Even if the child is non-speaking (lack of expressive language), it is incorrect to assume that the child is unable to comprehend, follow or grasp what is being said (intact receptive language). We need to assume intellect and address his actual age in teaching him academic concepts, exposing him to books, stories and life experiences, as their receptive language is much better than their expressive language. Children have proved this true with the help of the RPM method that is helping them learn and communicate age appropriately.

-- Children with autism, because of their awareness not being completely grounded in their bodies, are less individualized and much more at one with the natural world as compared to typical persons. Hence, it is extremely beneficial to keep them close to nature, maintain eco friendly and natural living styles, food, rhythms and routines that are in harmony with the natural world. They do not have a sense of “I” or Ego and hence they are not capable of any negative thinking or actions and are pure hearted. Interestingly, many verbal children on the spectrum do not use the word ”I” to refer to themselves. Instead they use names in third person!

-- Therapy is more effective when therapists connect deeply with the children, respect and accept them for who they are and gain their trust by working from the heart and soul as opposed to working mechanically. No two children with autism are the same and it is important to observe them and allow ourselves to be guided by their needs and not be bound rigidly by schedules and agendas although it is important to have a structure to begin with.

-- Children are more deeply and subtly connected with their parents’ and more so the mother’s well being than we are aware. The sensitive children often reflect the mother’s state of mind. Hence it is equally important to work with the mothers, help them deal with their anxiety, help them accept their children unconditionally, to help them identify their children’s strengths and build on them. In addition, most importantly, to find something that will fulfill the mother's personal need for joy and happiness. A happy, fulfilled mother is able to better care for her family than a mother who is giving more than she is receiving.

-- Although technology is proving to be a boon for children on the autism spectrum, we need to be careful not to expose these children to too much technology as they are sensitive to the EMF and radiation that comes from the wifi and signals. The TV and video programming ensures that the children are highly stimulated and hence hooked on to them. Children are responding positively to methods like communication charts, PECS and RPM which do not involve the use of technology. In this time and age of excesses, it important not to expose children to over-stimulation of the senses (example: noisy videos, malls, arcades). Care has to be taken to keep the children in calm and peaceful environments as many of them are hypersensitive to loud noises and to reduce the occurrence of hyperactivity which is rather environmentally induced.

-- Children on the autism spectrum and other special conditions need to be helped to live a life of dignity and productivity. This is the central guiding principle behind the Camphill Communities (residential communities for adults with mental and psychological disabilities) based on principles of anthroposophy, located all over the world including India. It is important to keep the youngsters and adults productively engaged in order to help them become contributing members of the society in their own unique capacity.

These are just some of my takeaways from anthroposophy.

Hence, anthroposophy is not just a method of education or medicine, but it is a way of life. It is a holistic way of looking at the human being and serving humanity with a deeper understanding.

Understanding Autism through Camphill Learning expressed by one of our first Curative educators from India,is about her deep impression of meeting a boy with autism,40 yrs ago in Thornbury ,Camphill,was that we are engaged in giving experiences to help them with their following incarnation. A very profound statement that has been flowering through further experiences. 
Child with Autism, the typical physical features of beauty and symmetry. With a typical characteristic of autism we can go by the book but more often than not children with autism incarnate as individuals.

Autism

From Anthroposophic Perspective “Brilliantly Disabled”

Have you ever asked yourself why gifted people in some life situation can be so helpless and why people with handicaps can be so brilliant?

Rudolf Steiner’s indications about how health originates offers an exciting answer. Health, is not a continuous state. It is an oscillating search for balance between opposite poles. If one can manage to keep finding the midpoint between the extreme polarities, one remains healthy. If one succeeds in oscillating between two poles across the middle, exploiting all the possibilities, then one is extremely healthy, resilient and flexible.

In autism spectrum disorder, one can see the effect of polarised one-sidedness in the form of giftedness (or) a handicap.

Being gifted with tasks that require great alertness, perfection, close observation, linking of many details and a good memory, there one makes a great demand on oneself. The others will have to deal with the stressed state of oneself.

Stuck on the other side, in the too relaxed space they are very gifted at having breaks during free time at breaks.

One is totally ungifted when imposed on a difficult task, wherein whoever is working with that one despairs and cannot understand why the other is so upset. The road to a more moderate, oscillate state of being is the way out of loneliness.

Twelve senses and a child with autism

The various senses all evolve through active use. Our physical senses need daily care. If a sense is not exposed to a variety of stimuli, even in later life, the sense will deteriorate.

Rudolf Steiner says “we breathe in … our ego with our sense perceptions…This ego actually lives in the outer world.” Through a complete development of four own body senses which serve the unconscious perception of the self, one brings the ego and soul into a relationship with one’s vital and physical bodies. This leads to a feeling of being safe.

In addition to penetrating one’s own body, one also incarnates into four elements of the living earthy surroundings (gravity, force of buoyancy, light/air and warmth)

A successful incarnation says Rudolf Steiner, in education for special needs penetrates to the morality of one’s environment and makes it possible for one to allow the personality, thought process and language of others to resonate within one.

This is possible through the social senses with which one perceives the other human being.

Social senses –

  • Senses of the individuality of the other - To perceive the ego of another.
  • Sense of thought – To be able to participate in the thought process of another.
  • Sense of speech – To be able to follow the words and sounds of another with concentration and to understand their language as sense perception.
  • Sense of Hearing – To direct one’s attention to the sound of another, ability to exclude the peripheral sounds.

Four dreaming, semiconscious senses for perceiving the manifestation of the world.

These senses perception are stimulated from without.

  • Sense of warmth – Perception of warmth and coldness of the earth, air and water in relation to one’s own warmth.
  • Sense of sight – perception of colours in the spectrum between light and dark.
  • Sense of taste – To let the flavours of the world melt on one’s tongue.
  • Sense of smell – To be able to smell the senses of the world.

Four deeply unconscious senses for perceiving oneself for an existential sense of security.

  • Sense of Balance – movement between heaviness and lightness.
  • Sense of self movement – Perceptions of one’s own rotational movements in the play of muscles, especially muscle spindle.
  • Life sense – To perceive life processes between catabolism and anabolism.
  • Sense of touch – Sense which makes one aware of his bodily form and boundaries.

Rudolf steiner, stated that every mature bodily sense becomes the organ of a social sense.

  • Sense of Touch – Mature to be Ego sense.
  • Life sense – Mature to be thought sense.
  • Sense of movement – Mature to be Speech sense.
  • Sense of balance – Mature to be sense of hearing

The movement of overcoming heaviness wakes up one to listen with attention.

The concept of the senses indicated by Rudolf Steiner is a 100 years old, but revolutionary in its meaning. In our time, it has been confirmed in all the research findings.

So working with the lower senses bring forth the social senses.

Healing happens through parents, grandparents, nannies, teachers in the day to life by strengthening child’s ego being in the daily rhythm. Regenerate his life body in the 28 day moon rhythm and his physical body in the yearly rhythm.

So from Anthroposophic perspective – children with autism have

Weak metabolic system

This is addressed through CFGF diet.

Weak life senses

This is helped by Bringing rhythm in their activities and sleep.-working with lower senses and to integrate the sensory experiences.

Referrence “ASD – understanding practical know and how by Ingrid Ruhrmann”

ADHD

It is striking that depressive – emotional problems with inhibited motor function are clearly more frequent in girls than boys, while the opposite is true for aggressive and hyperkinetic disorders. According to the child health survey, gender ratio with ADHD in the pubertal age range is approx 1 : 4. 95% of all prison inmates are male. We need to pay closer attention to these simple and impressive facts. Rudolf Steiner,suggested considering the polarity between head and extremities which again repeats the proportion of 1: 4 . In the process of which attention will be primarily drawn to the spherical internally centralised character of the head. In contrast to this is the radiating shape of the extremities finding its vanishing point and also its centre at infinity. From a morphological perspective, sphere and line constitute polar opposite principles. In nature they appear in their purest form as light ray and drop.

Male gender is associated with a more pronounced formation of the limbs while the female stature attenuates spherical forms.

By training the limbs through purposeful use and practice, the potential of the limbs can be brought about.

Hyperkinetic disorder is primarily a disorder of impulse control.

So bringing in more challenge of movements – there is a possibility to channelize.

ADHD – A sign of talent

Curative educator Henning Kohler contrasts the problems and abilities of children who can become socially conspicuous today due to hyperactivity, impulsivity (or) attention deficits.

Problems Abilities
Compulsive , driven, motor deficits Motor skills often highly developed – kinaesthetic intelligence

In this week at IPMT, We are going to look at the

Phenomenon of Autism Spectrum , exploring new ways of looking at these children ----Changing the perspective of spectrum.

Using a Child Study , we look at various therapeutic measures that could be offered. A. Practical guidance at Home for parents and B. Class room management for teachers.

Subjects that can be covered are Understanding 12 senses, Seven life processes and their interaction in health, illness and behaviour changes.

Text study will be on Senses & Life Processes from Living Physiology by Karl Koenig.