I wrote the original version of this article (based on some of my previous writings here, “tweaked” and improved a little, with some new content added) for the April 2009 Axis Mundi eNewsletter for “Autism Awareness Month”, after which it also appeared in the May 2009 edition of The Cosmic Cauldron Newsletter (no longer published). It was written at that time with an emphasis on paganism, rather than the paranormal. Naturally I also posted it here on my blog, titled Autism, Psychic Abilities, the Paranormal and Paganism …is there a connection? In June 2010 that blog post was linked to by U.S. online radio station Coast to Coast AM, when they interviewed author William Stillman about Autism and Spirituality, and that resulted in phenomenal exposure of my article which I blogged about here. Some time in early 2011 I was asked to add my article to the SOuL Searchers Paranormal Investigations website, then in July 2012 it was featured in the SOuL Searchers Paranormal Magazine.
I have the job of proofreading the SOuL Searchers eMag after our trusty editor Janine creates it and before it goes online. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had included my article in the July 2012 edition, but I also realised there were a few bits that needed improvement so I hurriedly reworked a couple of paragraphs before the completed magazine was uploaded by Janine to the Issuu website (which turns it into the rather impressive looking “turning page” magazine you can see in the last link above).
However, being the detail-obsessed (some might say anal-retentive ;)) Aspie that I am, after re-reading the article several times I decided that it really did need more work, with more emphasis being given to the paranormal side of things and a few more details added to my personal experience section at the end, as well as some brief info about what Paganism is. Unfortunately the version in the SS eMag will have to stay as is, but at least I can redo it here. 😀
So, with that in mind, here is the new, improved 2012 version, presented as a PDF based magazine on Issuu (with extra info inside the front and back covers) and the usual webpage format underneath that. (Unfortunately WordPress.com does not facilitate embedding of the magazine onto my page so just click on the image below to see the magazine version.)
Autism, Paganism, Psychic Ability & the Paranormal
by Jenny Taylor (aka Jenwytch)
Autism touches the lives of all sorts of people, including witches, pagans and paranormal investigators. As a Pagan I have noticed a seemingly disproportionate number of people within the Pagan community with what I consider to be traits of Asperger’s Syndrome or ‘mild’ autism. As a paranormal investigator and member of the SOuL Searchers Paranormal Investigation Team I have also been involved with a few private investigations where an autistic person has been sensitive to paranormal events in their home, perhaps more so than other members of the same household. I did some research and discovered that I am not the only one who has noticed an apparent connection between autism/Aspergers and paganism, and between autism and sensitivity to the paranormal and/or the spiritual. To begin with, let me explain a little about Autism and Aspergers Syndrome, and my personal interest in this slightly different way of being…
What is Autism?
In brief, Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. It is part of the autism spectrum and is sometimes referred to as an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or an ASD. The word ‘spectrum’ is used because, while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways. Some are able to live relatively ‘everyday’ lives; others will require a lifetime of specialist support.
The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the ‘triad of impairments’. They are:
- difficulty with social communication
- difficulty with social interaction
- difficulty with social imagination.
It can be hard to create awareness of autism as people with the condition do not ‘look’ disabled: parents of children with autism often say that other people simply think their child is naughty, while adults find that they are misunderstood.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
There is a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) which is often used to describe people who are usually at the ‘higher functioning’ end of the autistic spectrum, and it is in this form that autism has touched my life. I have four wonderful sons, two of whom have been diagnosed with mild Asperger’s Syndrome, while the other two have a lot of Aspie traits, one more so than the other, but have not been assessed. I now realise I that I too most likely have Asperger’s Syndrome — it explains so much about my life experiences.
Asperger’s Syndrome is named after Hans Asperger, a Viennese psychiatrist who first described the syndrome in 1944. Although his writings were published around the same time as Leo Kanner described autism, the term Asperger’s Syndrome was not widely used until the late 1980s, and internationally standardized diagnostic criteria were not published until 1994.
Autism, in all of its forms, is what is called a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). In essence, it is a slight difference in the construction of the brain, probably present since birth, which affects the way the child develops. It is not a mental condition or a behavioural issue… it is a neurological difference. Asperger’s Syndrome is also sometimes referred to as a neurobiological disorder – which means the nervous system has developed slightly differently to ‘normal’ due to genetic, metabolic, or other biological factors.
A number of traits of autism are common to Asperger syndrome including difficulty in social relationships, difficulty in communicating, limitations in imagination and creative play, and heightened sensitivity to certain textures, sights, sounds, tastes, or smells.
However, people with Asperger syndrome usually have fewer problems with language than those with autism, often speaking fluently, though their words can sometimes sound formal or stilted. People with Asperger syndrome do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism; in fact, people with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. Because of this many children with Asperger syndrome enter mainstream school and, with the right support and encouragement, can make good progress and go on to further education and employment.
Because their disability is often less obvious than that of someone with autism, a person with Asperger syndrome is, in a sense, more vulnerable. They can, sadly, be an easy target for teasing or bullying at school. As they get older, they may realise that they are different from other people and feel isolated and depressed. People with Asperger syndrome often want to be sociable and are upset by the fact that they find it hard to make friends.
Many people are of the opinion that the terms that describe AS (syndrome, disorder, etc) have onerous connotations and that it’s more accurate to simply say that so affected individuals are different. This has led to use of the term ‘Aspie’, first used in self-reference by Liane Holliday Wiley in her book Pretending to be Normal (1999), to describe such individuals in a more positive way.
Asperger’s Syndrome is NOT all about dysfunction and disability etc. There are many good points and advantages to being an Aspie. Here’s a refreshingly different perspective from the medical profession, by Dr Tony Attwood, a clinical psychologist and world renowned expert on AS…
“From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Aspergers Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking.”
Research demonstrates that autistic traits are distributed into the non-autistic population; some people have more of them, some have fewer. History suggests that many individuals whom we would today diagnose as autistic — some severely so — contributed profoundly to our art, our math, our science, and our literature. (See this list.)
Although the diagnostic criteria are relatively recent, autism itself is obviously not, and it is only now, due to advances in science and technology, that we have the opportunity to understand why some people are different. Hopefully this will eventually lead to a greater acceptance of diversity and the idea that ‘different’ does not equal or imply ‘defective’.
Yes, there are Strengths & Advantages of being an Aspie …just click on the link to see what they are.
|It is beyond the scope of this article to go into greater detail about autism so I have provided links below to some of the many excellent online resources about ASD and AS for anyone who wants to find out more:
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)
The National Autistic Society (UK)
Dr Tony Attwood …THE best source of information about Asperger’s Syndrome and current research about AS.
My personal blog The Other Side has a collection of information about Autism and AS, including the traits to identify. I have also listed on my blog links to the major Australian Autism organizations, plus links to personal websites of people with ASD.
What is Paganism?
Today, Paganism (also known as Contemporary Paganism or Neopaganism) is an umbrella term that covers a very large range of spiritual beliefs, practices and traditions. The Pagan Awareness Network describes a Pagan as someone who practices a reconstruction, revival, or reinvention of the indigenous spiritual traditions alive in Europe prior to the arrival of Christianity. Some examples are: Wicca, Goddess-worship, Druidism, Animism, Modern Witchcraft and Cunning-craft, Eco-spirituality, Reconstructionists (eg. Greek, Roman, Germanic, Celtic, Egyptian etc), Romuva (native to Lithuania), Asatru (practiced by people of Nordic ancestry), Modern Shamanism and Ceremonial Magic.
Pagans possess a diverse range of beliefs and practices. However, most tend to identify with the following:
- A relationship with the Sacred in its many forms that is based upon personal experience rather than on dogma or ‘right belief’
- A veneration or deep respect for Nature and her cycles of birth, growth, dying and renewal
- An ethic of personal responsibility
In addition, many Pagans place emphasis on one’s relationship with landscape or country, the idea that gods and goddesses personify natural forces, and that the Divine is embodied or immanent within the Universe.
Most Pagans believe that life is sacred, that everything is interconnected and interdependent, and that life-energy can be consciously channelled. The essence of a sacred life is therefore one lived in harmony with the rest of life. Pagans can be polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, monolatrous, or even (occasionally) atheist.
More information can be found at About Paganism: Fast Facts for the Media, Government and the Public
Asperger’s Syndrome & Paganism …is there a connection?
Since beginning my journey a few years ago into the world of Paganism I’ve often wondered about the seemingly disproportionate number of Pagans I’ve met (both in the ‘real’ world and online) who either have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), or are self diagnosed Aspies based on their own observations and knowledge of the condition; knowledge and understanding gained usually because their own children have been diagnosed with AS or related conditions on the Autism Spectrum. I include here as well those Pagans I’ve met who have ‘quirky’ behaviour and also have close family members diagnosed with AS; a strong indicator that they too may have AS or some other ASD. I’ve met Pagan individuals who have many of the traits of AS that are so obvious to those of us who know and recognise the typical traits of AS yet they themselves haven’t got a clue and continue through life wondering why they don’t quite fit in, sometimes expressing the view that they feel very alone, as if they’re on the wrong planet. Remember, the diagnostic criteria for AS have only been available since 1994 so many adults with AS would not even know what it is, nor would they have been clinically assessed and therefore they would not understand why they don’t fit in with mainstream society. One could speculate that perhaps within Paganism, which is not mainstream, that people with a different ‘way of being’ such as Aspies, might find companionship and acceptance with more like-minded individuals than in mainstream religions and society.
But of course not all Pagans are Aspies and vice versa, and unfortunately, as in any ‘community’, there are always those ignorant individuals who will bully and harrass anybody they see as different or vulnerable, even when they are made aware of why that person might be different. Such behaviour within the Pagan community is a far cry from what you might expect from people who claim to be ‘spiritual’ or at least tolerant of differences. I’ve witnessed this both online and in the real world as friendships have been destroyed and people on both sides hurt, all because of ignorance, fear, misunderstandings and miscommunication that in one way or another centred around a person with AS who was being victimised.
While looking for info specifically on this topic I came across a quote from an article written in 1989 by Rosemary Guiley (and updated in 2008) called “A Brief Biography of Isaac Bonewits”…
Around 1985 Bonewits began regularly discussing the need to provide social services for domestic and personal problems and drug dependencies. Neopagans, he points out, represent a cross section of the population, and such problems cut across religious lines. Bonewits estimates that as many as 80 percent of Neopagans come from “non[‘dys-‘]functional family” backgrounds. Neopagans, he observes, are brighter and more artistic than average, but also, therefore, “more neurotic.” [He now thinks much of it may be related to “Aspergers Syndrome”] The community has been quick to address these social issues with programs [such as various “Pagan 12-Step Programs”].
Following a link re the “Pagan 12-Step Programs” led to an article written by Isaac Bonewits in 1996 and updated in 2006 called “Pagans in Recovery”…
“I suspect that most of us in our overlapping subcultures – Neopagans, science fiction fans, renn-faire roadies, medievalists, computer techies, Mensa members, etc – suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (“AS”). This is a multi-syndrome subtype of mild autism, characterized by:
- high intelligence and creativity,
- mild to severe Attention Deficit Disorder (which I prefer to think of as “Attention Dynamic Difference”),
- usually with “Hyperactivity,”
- often with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ( “OCD”), and
- perhaps most importantly, “dysthemia,” which is a difficulty in understanding the non-literal content of human communication, such as facial expressions, body language, voice tonalities and other social cues.
When you combine all those characteristics, AS seems to equal INS (or “Incipient Nerd Syndrome”) and much of the bizarre personal behavior and miscommunication that plagues our communities suddenly becomes understandable – not to mention the oh-so-common “cluelessness” that characterizes many of our best known members!”
Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a nerd, LOL. For a good definition and description of the evolution of the term ‘nerd’ go to Wikipedia.
Autism, Spirituality & the Paranormal
What is the Paranormal?
Paranormal is a general term (coined ca. 1915–1920) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation” or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is the ‘normal’ part of the word and ‘para’ makes up the above, beyond, beside, contrary, or against part of the meaning. Parapsychology is the field of research that studies paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation and apparitional experiences.
Autism & Spirituality
An interesting connection with ASD, not specifically to Paganism but with spirituality in general and sensitivity to the paranormal, has been made by William Stillman in his books Autism and the God Connection and The Soul of Autism. Below are some quotes about Stillman (who also has AS), his work and his books from his website www.williamstillman.com…
“As an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild ‘cousin’ of autism, Stillman’s message of reverence and respect has touched thousands nationally through his acclaimed autism workshops and private consultations. In his work to support those who love and care for individuals with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, Stillman sets a tone for our collective understanding of the autistic experience in ways that are unprecedented. Autism should not be defined as an ‘affliction endured by sufferers’, but as a truly unique and individual experience to be respected and appreciated by all. In so doing, Stillman highlights the exquisite sensitivities of our most valuable, wise and loving ‘teachers’.”
“Autism and the God Connection is a formidable challenge to simplistic explanations of autism. The clinical stories in this book raise significant questions about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. This book is about more than neurological issues; it is about our nature, our origin and destiny — in short, our connection with the Absolute, however named.”
“An intensely rare and innovative book! William Stillman has opened the door to a most intriguing partnership between the treatment of autism and metaphysical studies. The personal stories of autistics as narrated in this book parallel the ‘multisensory’ experiences described by intuitives, mystics and psychics, and call to mind the abilities of shaman who are able to traverse between the world of spirit and this physical plane. What an amazing realization that those long considered mentally challenged may actually be far more advanced in terms of spiritual perception, and it is we who must strive to advance to their level of understanding.”
“In Autism and the God Connection, William Stillman chartered new territory by documenting extraordinary accounts of spiritual giftedness in those with autism — persons often deemed intellectually inferior. But more remains to be told. For those of us not privy to the ease with which many autistics tap their divine resources, we may ask, “How does it work?” Stillman’s new book, The Soul of Autism, responds by exploring the following:
- Why the unaccountable and dramatic rise in autism — with no single known cause — is a necessary part of our spiritual evolution.
- What is the secret component that makes autistic telepathy possible for us all if we only avail ourselves of it?
- If certain autistics communicate with animals, what are the animals saying, and how might that hold relevance for the rest of us?
- Perceiving deceased grandparents in Spirit is not an uncommon experience for many autistics, but what implies reciprocation in these highly unusual relationships that, curiously enough, center upon grandfathers?
- How might we tap our multisensory giftedness like those with autism have? The author shares seven steps he developed to undergo a spiritual transformation (from which he escaped a brush with suicidal thoughts), and demonstrates how he applies it with glowing affirmations.
In pursuing answers, The Soul of Autism explores these aspects of spirituality through an autistic prism. We all hold the capacity for unlimited possibilities, but how we do it is what we may come to know from those who do it naturally. We have much to be learning from our autistic friends about transcendence rising, a new humanity accessible for all. The Soul of Autism illuminates the way.”
William Stillman’s book — The Autism Prophecies: How an Evolution of Healers and Intuitives is Influencing Our Spiritual Future — is his third volume that deals with Autism and Spirituality. I enjoyed it far more than his first two books on the topic as this volume provided much more information than books one and two. As explained in this third book, the first two gradually led up to and prepared the reader for the information finally revealed in the third book, much of which many people might otherwise have found too strange or unbelievable. However, as I am already well and truly interested in the paranormal and ‘alternative’ spirituality I found the first two books a little ‘tame’ in that respect. Much of what he said in this third book resonated strongly with my own personal experiences as well as my observations of others, which includes information about autistic children and the paranormal received from some of the clients of SOuL Searchers Paranormal Investigations (for which I am Website Manager and Part-time Investigator).
The Autism Prophecies:
How an Evolution of Healers and Intuitives is
Influencing Our Spiritual Future by William Stillman
Publish Date: April 20, 2010
Paperback, 208 pages; published by New Page Books
It is estimated that every twenty minutes a child is diagnosed with autism, and statistics are rapidly rising worldwide without any single known cause. Now, with The Autism Prophecies, award-winning author, William Stillman (Autism and the God Connection and The Soul of Autism), himself a person on the autism spectrum, completes his spiritual trilogy by revealing the truth about autism and its purpose. The Autism Prophecies explores the following:
- Why abuse of those with autism threatens to increase, and how it’s driven not by fear of our differences but by fear of our similarities.
- How some with autism are natural-born healers who employ compassion despite contradictory diagnoses indicating a void of empathy.
- How impossible gifts such as mind control and speaking unknown languages could be occurring in some individuals with autism.
- How parents may distinguish their child’s spiritual interactions from behavior that might be mislabeled—and unduly medicated as hallucinatory.
- Why there’s a dramatic spike in night terrors, and the urgent signs families should recognize to protect themselves accordingly.
- How the wisdom of many individuals with autism may help us to prepare for future hardships and an impending renaissance of civility, respect, and compassion.
In pursuing an enlightened future, The Autism Prophecies views these spiritual aspects through an autistic prism. William Stillman stands alone as the first and only author with the courage and foresight to illuminate the inherent spirituality in many persons with autism—individuals who, historically, have been marginalized and devalued by our culture. His unique research, called “brave” by his supporters, has gained the respect and attention of serious parapsychology scholars and spiritual scientists, as well as open-minded theologians.
Praise for The Autism Prophecies:
“In The Autism Prophecies, William Stillman illuminates the Soul purpose of individuals with autism; that they are here to share their spiritual gifts and talents, to help usher in a new age of truth and enlightenment, and to remind us that we are all more alike than different.”
—Mary Riposo, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Using Reiki Techniques with Children: A Guide for Parents and Professionals.
“From his unique personal perspective and research into the experiences of many autistic individuals, William Stillman presents a provocative case for autistic individuals often possessing special ways of knowing that border on the psychic and spiritual. If valid, his reporting has remarkable implications for a fuller understanding of the nature of human consciousness.”
—Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., Executive Director, Rhine Research Center
“In The Autism Prophecies—the final book in his seminal trilogy on autism—William Stillman reveals more startling truths about evolution, the future of our planet, and what the rapidly growing community of individuals, that, sadly, are still being dismissed with the “affliction” of autism, are really here to teach us.”
—Sandra Sedgbeer, Editor-in-Chief, Inspired Parenting magazine and Children of the New Earth magazine
“Common minds judge and so fail to see what uncommon people so clearly show us we have the ability to know and be. The Autism Prophecies is wonderful! And for everyone who strives to become unlimited.”
—Nancy and Elena, co-producers and radio hosts, Beyondtheordinary.net
Other people have also written about a possible connection between autism and the paranormal. For example in his blog called Intangible Materiality Bruce Duensing wrote…
The Paranormal and The Autistic
Autism and Non Consensus Reality
“If some of you have read my earlier posts, you know I am on the autistic spectrum as having Asperger’s Syndrome as well as having many lifelong strange psychic and paranormal phenomenon that I have accommodated as my shadow, while not relinquishing my own skepticism toward either the experiences themselves or their causation because as an autistic I digest the world by systematizing it. Lately, through correspondence with a autistic friend, Dr Coral Hull, with similar and yet distinct experiences, I have have begun to examine something that should have been apparent all along to someone who is not autistic… is there a link between my autism and these experiences? More importantly, is there a linkage between perception of alternate or non consensus realities and the characteristics of my state?” Read more…
The author of a blog called Dead Conversations wrote…
“Spirits LOVE autistic children, as they are the most open beings to spiritual energy, as they more than half live in the spiritual world. But I want to give autistic kids their own post, as every single one I have met has had such an amazing spiritual energy – it’s palpable and warm, and a little overwhelming.”
Autism & Psychic Ability
I found a link to a very interesting site here with a collection of articles by Mary Ann Harrington, a former teacher of children with autism…
Here’s a sample of her articles…
Anomalies of Autism – Questions for Scientists and Researchers Interested in Consciousness
“My work with individuals with severe autism has expanded my awareness and broadened my conception of reality. Their uncanny ability to repeat messages I have sent to them telepathically and/or sub-vocally in itself is amazing. I believe that is just the beginning of their consciousness raising abilities.”
Autism, Entangled Energy – Sending, Joining, and Receiving Thoughts Through Paranormal Channels
“Joining at higher levels of consciousness with my friends with autism broadened my conception of the universe, as they led me on an internal journey to an ever-evolving belief system. Intuition, joined energy, direct knowing, and telepathy had now become part of my perceptual reality.”
Enhanced ESP, Telepathy, and Mysticism in People with Autism
“These remarkable individuals have led me to believe that the brain is a diffusing device rather than an emanating one. They may have easier access to altered states because their filtering devices – brain and sensory systems – are impaired. This massive disruption in normal processing may have forced them back into a dream-like state in which the right brain suddenly forced to take over left-brain functions. This in turn may allow for greater access to altered states of consciousness.”
Mary Ann Harrington’s articles are definitely worth a good long look if you’re interested in this topic too!
The Science Behind Psychic Phenomena
In an article by Jaime T. Licauco that I read here it was pointed out that “critics of psychic phenomena have stubbornly maintained their untenable position that psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance and telekinesis do not exist because they have not bothered to look at the massive scientific evidence that have been written over the last 100 years.” Licauco reviewed a book, “The Noetic Universe, The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Phenomena” by Dr. Dean Radin, senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Science, in which Dr. Radin states…
“The idea is that those compelling, perplexing and sometimes profound human experiences known as “psychic phenomena” are real.
This will come as no surprise to most of the world’s population, because the majority already believes in psychic phenomena. But over the past few years, something new has propelled us beyond old debates over personal beliefs. The reality of psychic phenomena is now no longer based solely upon faith, or wishful thinking, or absorbing anecdotes. It is not even based upon the results of a few scientific experiments. Instead, we know that these phenomena exist because of new ways of evaluating massive amounts of scientific evidence collected over a century by scores of researchers.”
Licauco’s article/book review goes on to say that “the field of quantum physics is beginning to unravel some of the mystery. It has shown that in the realm of particle physics, or in the quantum level, the laws of Newtonian physics do not apply. What applies in those very tiny, non-visible particles is thought or consciousness. That’s why traditional physicists cannot explain what happens in telepathy, clairvoyance or telekinesis.”
(Dean Radin’s book is also titled The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, depending on country of publication.)
I came across another interesting article in Time Magazine featuring an interview with former Harvard professor Diane Hennacy Powell. In her book The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena, Powell combines philosophy, physics, and empirical data to examine supernatural traits like telepathy (the ability to access someone else’s consciousness), psychokinesis (the ability to use one’s consciousness to affect external objects), clairvoyance (the ability to broaden one’s consciousness to remote time and space) and precognition (the ability to see into the future). She writes that it’s likely everybody possesses psychic abilities, but some people are simply more successful at it because genetics are likely behind it. She says, “One of the things we know is that it runs in families. If you talk to psychics, they’ll tell you there’s a family history of it. Though we haven’t found it, there’s likely a gene for it. There are also cases where people haven’t had any psychic abilities until they’ve suffered head traumas. What’s common is that in these people who’ve had this head trauma, the structure and function of their brain has been changed. They’re often not able to function very well in the real world because they don’t know how to use the analytical side of their brain. Similarly, people with synesthesia have less activity in their cortex. People with autism also have a higher probability of psychic abilities.” See more here…
I find this rather intriguing as I have some synaesthesia, as do my kids (see Colours of the Week) and we’re also all Aspie in varying degrees.
My Personal Experience
When I was a child my family never showed any interest in the paranormal, occult or psychic phenomena, except to tell me that it was either total rubbish (my atheist father’s point of view) or very dangerous and Satanic and not to be ‘dabbled’ in (my Christian mother’s viewpoint). So, as you can imagine, they were both very concerned, but for different reasons, when I expressed an interest in such matters and as a result of their reactions I eventually learned to keep most of my ideas about anything I considered to be a psychic, telepathic or paranormal experience to myself.
Sometimes I just ‘knew’ something would happen before it actually did. More often I would ‘see’ an event in my mind either ahead of time (a premonition) or while it was taking place elsewhere (remote viewing) and I couldn’t explain why. Other times I have felt a presence and on a couple of occasions I have heard a disembodied voice and/or the sensation of physical touch when there was no-one else in the room. Due to their circumstances, these instances could possibly be explained by mild Sleep Paralysis but that certainly does not explain my telepathy or remote viewing. I also have no ‘scientific’ explanation for how or why, on a clear night with no other people, animals or traffic around, I saw my neighbour’s dear old dog Sam walking across the road three days after he had died.
Sam was a very old German Shepherd dog who had a very particular and peculiar way of walking due to the arthritis in his hips. He was well known in the neighbourhood because of his capacity for escaping from his backyard and wandering the area, amicably greeting people in his travels. He was often seen walking back and forth across the rather busy road that we lived on as there was a park and a shop across the road from our houses that he liked to visit. He always crossed in the same place, in front of his house on the crest of the road just past my driveway. He became my “Claytons dog” (the dog you have when you don’t have a dog) and spent a lot of time snoozing on a rug I left for him on my front verandah. Eventually his arthritis crippled him to the point where there was sadly no other choice but for his owners to have him euthanized. Naturally I was upset about this, but I knew there was no other way. One night as I was slowing down in my car before pulling into my driveway (with absolutely no other traffic around at the time) I recognised old Sam walking across the road in his special waddling way, illuminated by my headlights. I thought nothing of it as I pulled into the driveway, until it suddenly hit me that Sam had been dead for three days! I flew out of the car and went to the street to check. There was no sign of any dog, anywhere, not even near the shop or in the park across the road. Even if there had been another dog, it was highly unlikely that it would have looked exactly like Sam and walked exactly the way he did in exactly the same spot as I had seen him do for so many years. It was very surprising but also reassuring as I figured Sam was letting me know he was a happy dog, even in the Astral, doing just what he had always done.
I don’t know why, but Sam is the only ‘ghost’ I have ever seen with my physical eyes, and I was certainly very much awake at the time! On another occasion, while visiting a family member at the old farmhouse she’d recently purchased, I was quietly exploring her new home when I entered one particular room and immediately felt a sense of foreboding. The room felt “creepy” and unwelcoming, as well as sad, angry and confused. I didn’t like it in there at all, although nothing “looked” wrong — the furnishings and contents of the room all looked normal — it just felt horrible in there. I asked her about it later and she told me that the old man who originally owned the property had died in that very room. I found out later that my brother, who knew nothing about the history of the house, also had the same reaction as he entered that room.
At other times, especially during paranormal investigations I sometimes ‘see’ spirits as an image in my mind’s eye, or else I get impressions of colours, appearances or some other feature about them. More often than not these impressions or visions are independently corroborated by others in the group as they describe what they sensed or saw, without prior knowledge of my impressions.
I have had numerous instances of claircognizance — knowing that something would happen before it did — and quite a few memorable instances of clairvoyance which left me quite shaken after witnessing my ‘visions’ happen in real life after I had seen them play out in my mind hours or sometimes days earlier. I have never had any sense of control over when these things would happen.
Now I’m a parent and I’ve seen my own children experience similar things on and off, such as seeing the ghost of my grandfather walk across our family room a few days after he’d died, or knowing something would happen before it did. One very strange episode was when I had a very disturbing dream about going on a holiday and suddenly remembering and panicking in the dream that I’d forgotten to bring the kids with me. I woke up with a start, then realised it was only a dream and the boys were safe at home with me. About an hour or so later when my second son awoke (he was about 6 years old at the time) he came out of his bedroom very distressed as he thought I was going to go on a holiday and leave him behind! Go figure?!
I’ve always given my boys the freedom to discuss these issues with me in a calm and rational manner, and I also encourage them to take notice of these events and not just dismiss them as ‘stupid’. Having a background and training based in science I always tend to look for the mundane, logical explanation first, but sometimes there just isn’t one. My youngest son, who is also the most ‘Aspie’ of the four, seems to have more of these experiences than his older brothers did at the same age, and he delights in telling me of his latest ‘psychic moment’.
Based on my own observations and those of others that I’ve outlined here, it seems there could be some sort of correlation with AS and Paganism, and also with autism/AS and spirituality, psychic ability and the paranormal. Although the psychic or spiritual abilities discussed above do not refer specifically to Paganism, they are perhaps more acceptable within the context of the many Pagan traditions than with most mainstream religions. So, maybe I’m not imagining this connection afterall. I agree that the information I’ve presented here is all anecdotal and by no means a scientific study, but it is something to think about. 🙂
Finally, in the interests of promoting awareness about Autism, aside from the intriguing paranormal and psychic aspects, please take the time to read something from the references I provided in the very first section to familiarise yourself with some of the recognisable traits of ASD. So, next time somebody acts a bit ‘weird’, or you see a child apparently misbehaving or having a temper tantrum in public, please try not to pass unfair judgement on them, or on the child’s parents. Stop and consider that the people you are watching just might be dealing with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Acceptance, understanding and perhaps even a polite offer of assistance (where appropriate) is far preferable to harsh, unfounded and unsolicited criticism.