Jan 24 2013

Starting today and extending over the next few weeks, I will be posting THE 3-STEP HOLISTIC APPROACH TO AUTISM, developed over 18 years of research, experience and collaboration. Today I will begin with step 1:

“Everything on earth lives according to the law of nature, and from that law emerges the glory and joy of liberty; but man is denied this fortune, because he set for the … soul a limited and earthly law of his own. He made for himself strict rules. Man built a narrow and painful prison in which he secluded his affections and desires. He dug out a deep grave in which he buried his heart and its purpose. If an individual, through the dictates of his soul, declares his withdrawal from society and violates the law, his fellowmen will say he is a rebel worthy of exile, or an infamous creature worthy only of execution. Will man remain a slave of self-confinement until the end of the world? Or will he be freed by the passing of time and live in the spirit for the spirit? Will man insist upon staring downward and backward at earth? Or will he turn his eyes toward the sun so he will not see the shadow of his body amongst the skulls and thorns?”

A- Acknowledge:

The first step in problem resolution lies with understanding and consciously acknowledging the components making up the problem. Insight somehow makes it easier to deal with a problem. Of course, this applies particularly to autism and constitutional sensitivity. Such issues define who a person is and determine how the rest of her life will be shaped. It is no easy task for anyone involved. With increased awareness, the medical profession has chipped in with “diagnostic criteria” meant to do the impossible task of categorizing a continuum of personalities. These criteria summarized in the DSM IV may be a helpful starting point for those with the most profound dysfunction. There are two main drawbacks with having a rigid set of criteria. The first is arbitrarily labeling a certain personality complex as a disease or disorder. The second is that these criteria leave too many sensitive children outside the help and attention they need, just because they partially or mildly or inconsistently fulfill the criteria. Many children show autistic tendencies in their behavior, sometimes too subtle to be apparent at eighteen months or two years of age. In fact, many of the signs may not be apparent until puberty or later. These children suffer the most, since they never get the attention or the proper handling by their parents or surroundings.

The majority of sensitive children have some degree of social dysfunction that may not rise to the level of recognition of parents or health care providers. This is particularly important when those closest to the child are on the insensitive side. In this case, they may not notice the signs on their own until may be a teacher writes them or their child gets beat up at school. A worst-case scenario would be that no one notices and the child grows up without any help, becoming an invisible person looking for an identity and a place to belong. The accrued damage from mocking and rejection and assaults on self-esteem may leave permanent scars on the person’s psyche and limit their potential in life, and sometimes leads to substance dependency and homelessness.

Nowadays, there is an arms race among pediatricians, family doctors, holistic MD’s & DO’s, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists and other health care providers to educate themselves about autism and ways to “treat” it. I am not about to discourage parents from seeking professional help. However, I encourage parents of sensitive children and spouses of sensitive adults to seek an understanding of the sensitive personality. This is necessary to enrich the conversation with any health care professional involved. This is also necessary to shore up and streamline the relationship with the sensitive person in your life in general.

Apparent social dysfunction, non-interactive demeanor, withdrawal, non-responsiveness, failure to make eye contact, etc. are signs every parent should heed. It is not unusual to go through a denial period for many reasons. The shock of knowing that one’s child is different from the majority of children coupled with the emotional and financial burden can make the situation very difficult to deal with initially. A large part of the denial is the stigma that comes with autism; and expressions of sympathy – and pity – by the media and the public are not helping and in fact are unnecessary expressions of superiority, which the sensitive community can live without. We need acceptance of sensitive and autistic people in society for who they are. We need acknowledgement of the sensitive personality as just another healthy personality integral to our beautiful mix of accepted personalities.

Rami Serhan, MD
Author, Psyche-Smart Autism; Integrative Medicine Consultant
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