Nature-deficit disorder is an atrophied awareness, a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us. This shrinkage of our lives has a direct impact on our physical, mental and societal health. Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
The autism epidemic is a wake up call...alerting us to a spiritual crisis that can only be solved by returning to Nature. The call is an invitation to awaken within us the passion to return to our roots. Not only metaphorically (back to the ways our ancestors lived) but literally (by healing the gut, our inner roots that bring nourishment to the body). Autism can be a sign post pointing us to the way out of the disconnectedness that many of us feel. And the arrow is pointing to Mother Nature...more often than not. Our deep longing for a meaningful existence was born when we were forced to forget what it means to be human...taught not to feel and value our instincts and intuition. We've suppressed our desire to play in the dirt, to explore the outdoors without time limits, to connect with Nature from a different space of knowing (apart from memorizing and labeling everything).
Our children are simply reflections of that disassociation from our innocence, our "inner sense". They are extensions of us showing us that we have to turn our focus inward to heal our Mother wound.
When my first son, Tillman, was labeled "autistic" and "developmentally delayed" at the age of two, I had already sensed for a long time that his body, through his behaviors and symptoms, was trying to communicate to me that something was amiss. He was colicky, he had eczema, allergies, chronic ear infections, refused to nurse and would often vomit up my breast milk and formula. I had just enough motherly intuition to know that he was not well and that his development was being delayed by his lack of brain and body nourishment. Meanwhile, I also felt under-nourished...I was unable to have a natural birth so my son was born by c-section. My body, mind and spirit felt deprived in so many ways. I asked myself...how was this all connected?
Often times, Tillman seemed extremely unhappy, disassociated and disconnected from this world...and I felt that disconnection within myself simultaneously. I also struggled to feel joy, I had little faith in a higher power, and I spent most of my days isolated with no desire for socialization. Was I autistic too? Had our culture as a whole become autistic?
This was my wake-up call. The more I tried to "fix" him through conventional treatments, the more obvious it became to me....that a complete paradigm shift was in order. As I was getting sicker by the day...I began realizing that this was an initiation. A primal instinct roared within me and my only option was to entirely disassemble my reality. My human domestication had paralyzed me and made me so numb, yet I still had a spark of a memory of my wildness. And thanks to my son, that spark had set me on fire. I was on a mission to save my family and to awaken that feminine essence within. To reclaim myself as a mother and source of nurturance, even though I had never been shown how to be a mother.
I remember the exact moment when I realized that all my schooling and preparation for adulthood deprived me of that divine feminine expression. All the reciting, memorizing, suppressing, measuring, focusing, and time-managing...had turned me into a woman who was wearing a man's mask. One day, when my son was being "treated" by his occupational therapist, my man-mask fell off. He was crying because he was afraid to jump on a balance mat. And even though I knew this, I kept pushing him to ignore his feelings. I kept saying forcefully, "stop crying!!!" And I pressured him to complete the task several times. The more we pressured him, the louder he cried. When I finally asked him, why he was crying, he just said, "I don't know mommy!!!"
In that moment...something hit me like a freight train. I was doing to him exactly what my mom and teachers did to me... I was teaching him not to feel. I was teaching him to disconnect from his gut instincts for the sake of meeting some meaningless goal. I broke down in tears...and for the first time ever...I pulled him into me and became his mother. And he became...MY guru.
One thing he taught me was that if we were going to heal, I would have to take extreme measures. I took him out of school, I stopped working full-time, and we tore apart the front lawn to turned it into a garden. I had to create a safe space for us to heal...to return to our roots...our womb.
I had read many books about healing the gut, the GAPS diet, and Body Ecology Diet, etc. So, I knew our healing had something to do with bacteria and probiotics and healing the inner ecosystem...but that was just scraping the surface of the greater healing that needed to occur. After a few months of being in the garden together every day, I could see a huge shift. Tillman was calm and grounded for the first time. I was too. I looked over at him one day as I was spreading compost and seeds, and I saw him playing with a roly poly. Just holding it in his hand so delicately, he was fully entranced like never before. All of his self-stimulatory behaviors and repetitive movements (that I tried to hire professionals to help us stop) were gone in that moment. I knew, we were on to something. But back then I was not quite able to put it into words.
Now, I can see with fully open eyes and heart that he was a gift to me. Many parents of autistic children struggle to agree with this concept. They only see the suffering and confusion that comes with parenting a special needs child. And yes, it is not for the faint of heart...but I'd like to propose an expansive view of the dilemma. This dis-ease, what Richard Louv calls,"Nature Deficit Disorder", is a Spiritual awakening call to us as a culture. We each have to answer that call individually through feeling, not thinking. If we are approaching this through conventional medicine, schooling, and excessive mentality...our children will never "measure up". We must all heal our mother wounds...fathers included...starting with our reconnection with all of our mothers...our Inner Mother, our Mother/s who birthed or raised us, and our Earth Mother. This might require us to heal ourselves and our inner child first...if it is not possible simultaneously.
We can do this first by allowing ourselves to feel our emotions fully without judgment or suppression. Only when we can love ourselves unconditionally, are we fully capable of loving another unconditionally. If we judge and abandon ourselves every time we feel an unwanted emotion...this opens up our Mother wound and it can be seen as a doorway to accessing our special gifts to our family. This inner healing will also invite more understanding between and compassion for your Mother who birthed or raised you. It will arise naturally and authentically, because when you are able to forgive yourself, you automatically see that she was only doing her best as well.
To heal our connection to Mother Earth we must find reasons to get outside more...gardening is just one way. Others might find camping, soccer, hiking, picnics, biking, or boating more inviting. Whatever suits you, try to view your outdoor time as a time of worship and allow yourself (and your child) to explore with very little structure. Tune into the heart beat of our Mother, ground your bare feet into the soil, breathe in the beneficial microbes, and feel the sun rays nourish you just as the plants are nourished by light.
Through the above process our guts will heal...through exposure to soil microbes, sunshine, grounding, and creating a safe inner and outer space to finally relax and just be BREATHED. Changing the diet is also essential because we must remove obstructions created from years and generations of unhealthy habits. Some targeted supplementation might be helpful at first...but all of this must come secondary to and within the context of nature immersion and radical spiritual healing.
If you know someone blessed with the gift of this call to initiation...please share my story of hope. I'm here to serve my Earth family with love and compassion and provide guidance to those willing to accept this invitation of spiritual awakening.
My son is fully recovered now, he is 15 years old and has blown me away with his emotional stability, empathy, and deep presence...and he is still...teaching me how to heal my mother wound.
Aloha beloved co-dreamers,