I have a friend in Portugal named João. I met his mother, Helena first. She reached out to me after reading my book,Awakened by Autism (Hay House, 2015) because she said she felt great hope. She said we shared a common vision about autism and we became good friends. Then one day she said her son wrote me a letter.
“Dear Dr. Andrea,
I am writing to let you know that you have been on my mind for quite some time. I am autistic and still facing great challenges but my heart tells me that I shall overcome them. I have been receiving messages that we need to join hands and you and Jack have already started your journey to healing. On this side of the planet a lot is yet to be done but we can exchange ideas and experiences. Dr. Andrea as you write autism is a wake up call to humanity, it is up to us to bring about the change.
Hugs from Portugal.
PHOTO BY HELENA DA COSTA
João’s first letter to me
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I have regular Zoom meetings with Helena and João. I have so many questions about his experience of autism and he graciously answers them. We are compiling a book together because what he has to say must be shared with the world. He wrote a book three years ago that was published in Portugal. It sold almost 10,000 copies. His purpose, as he puts it, is to share these messages with humanity, because we have autism all wrong. And there is so much at stake.
PHOTO BY HELENA DA COSTA
He offers more insights:
“...Families of these individuals have to accept the need to change their beliefs that autism is a dead end road to nowhere. In fact the invitation is that you first regain back your power and start opening up your path to healing and let me tell you something. When it comes to autism the healing begins first and foremost with parents and their need to regain Consciousness and Light.”
When I watch João in our regular video calls, I see a young man flitting about the room. He jumps up and down, sometimes with such intensity I imagine the room shakes. He makes loud noises and appears anxious at times. When he settles down and sits at the table to write, he often smiles and I want to reach out across the air waves and hug him. He’s so beautiful.
How does someone with such obvious autistic behaviors and no language, comprise such profound thoughts and ideas? Why are we shocked by what we see on the outside and what transpires from the inside?
Because we have autism all wrong. We believe that the intellect of an individual with autism is somehow related to the outward disability. And it is crushing the spirits of many, many individuals. We believe they are limited. This harsh reality that we have set up surrounding autism is crippling. But it need not be this way.
I hope you will join the conversation here and consider autism from a new vantage point. First, the most important change for every parent, caregiver and teacher of autistic individuals is to assume intelligence.
Because when you do this, the entire world of the autistic individual changes. How we educate, communicate and show up with that person takes on an entirely different trajectory. And the potential and gifts of that person have the space to emerge.