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Spiritual Revelations And Autism Stories

Anindya Das

By Masters  and Mythily
Amarabharathi Publishers & Book Seller, Tiruvannamalai, 2015, pp. 120, Rs. 100.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 8 August 2016

Autism: Book of Revelations is a unique take on the subject of autism in terms of the spiritual insight experienced by professionals involved in autism care. In fact it would be an oversimplification to state that the book deals with the ‘spiritual’ considering the vast array of ways that people with autism and professionals involved in caring for them experience autism as a state of being beyond what is humanly possible, a state of ‘soul consciousness’ as Tasleem Farzana and Pekka Kontiainen summarize in the foreword to the book. Mythily Chari takes the lead in writing or rather compiling this book and accepts that she is ‘just a thread that connects…’ all the contributors of the book who in fact are the ‘Masters’ referring to people with autism. The chapters of the book do not follow any stringent thematic pattern. In the first two introductory chapters the author familiarizes the reader with her experience of caring for autistic children as a special educator for over 20 years and with as many as 600 such children/families. She then goes on to reinterpret the commonly understood features of autism in a new light such as diminished pain perception or lack of shame in autistics as ascetic features of lack of body awareness and a sense of self that is inclusive of the world around them. For this the author makes comparisons with examples from the life of yogis and mystics (like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s lack of shame when his dhoti would come undone when he would dance in devotional ecstasy). The substance of the book can be found in the third chapter which also happens to be the longest. It describes various insights that Mythily Chari had developed while working with autistic children over the years. Such insights also in a way bust certain myths about autism in general. For example, though autistics are known to be nonverbal they do have inner speech or the more common presence of extra-sensory perception in autistics than others. Similarly the author recounts the amazing capabilities of autistic savants she has worked with, even using works (poem, excerpts and ideas) composed by them. Among other insights one very intriguing concept is the author’s understanding of all autistics being pure at heart, what she describes as ‘Heart Savant’. The last three chapters are written by different authors, Shailesh Pangaonkar, a psychiatrist, Nandini Santhanam, co-founder of the ...

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