I found this story especially interesting as it brings together two of my interests: autism and shamanism…
In late 2004, Rupert Isaacson, a human rights activist, brought a delegation of African bushmen from Botswana to the United Nations. Among the men were traditional healers, who offered to work with Isaacson’s autistic son Rowan.
Isaacson says he was skeptical, but he had experience with the bushmen and allowed the healers to lay their hands on his son.
“I was kind of flabbergasted at Rowan’s response. For about four days while they were with him, he started to lose some of his symptoms. He started to point, which was a milestone he hadn’t achieved,” Isaacson said.
When the tribal healers left, Rowan regressed.
Isaacson says he couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he were to give Rowan a longer exposure to the two things that he seemed to have responded well to: horses and shamans.
A link to the article quoted from above was posted recently on an autism forum, but at the time I quickly glossed over it and only saw the horse part, not the bit about the shamans. Then this morning a friend sent me a link to last night’s ABC Radio National interview with this boy’s father, which put a lot of emphasis on the shamanism aspect of the story, so I thought I should take more notice of it. 🙂 You can go to Late Night Live to download the interview as an mp3 file. It’s definitely worth listening to.
Rupert Isaacson – author and journalist; human rights campaigner; former horse trainer – has also written a book called, The Horse Boy: a father’s quest to heal his son (Text Publishing, 2009).
And there’s also the film, The Horse Boy (formerly titled Over the Hills and Far Away).
At the foot of the mountain, a small boy sits wriggling in his father’s arms, giggling at the strange figure dancing before him. Wearing a deer-skin coat hung with ribbons, pieces of antler, arcane symbols forged in iron, on his head a masked, feathered headdress, the shaman dances to the rhythm of his own drum, chanting and intoning; lost in trance. All of a sudden, he sits down and beckons for the boy to be passed to him. Still laughing, but also nervous, the small boy is put under the drum, the thundering rhythm loud in his ears. Father and mother look on worriedly: will this be too much for their child? Read more here…