Last night after I wrote the blog entry which precedes this one, the one which is an introduction to the free talk on the therapeutic benefits of Waldorf education, I realized that I had left a little too much “wriggle room” in terms of being misunderstood. So I want to lay out a few things clearly, right now, right here:
1) I do not believe that parents “cause” autism anymore than they “cause” Down’s Syndrome.
2) I do, though believe that there are an enormous number of children who exhibit behaviors which lead to their being either labeled with something like autism-spectrum or ADHD but who do not actually have those challenges on an organic level. Rather, these are the children who, because of environmental factors (incl. possible problems from vaccinations, allergies, environmental toxins etc) seem to be autistic or hyperactive or ARE plagued with sensory integration issues. My point about these children is that, given a new environment, a new way of parenting, a new way of educating, these children’s lives can be turned around to an amazing extent. Given the healing rhythms of Waldorf, given a new emphasis on the peaceful well ordered home and a parent who changes her perceptions of her child dramatically – thus no longer listening to what the “norms” are – these children can heal enormously. These are the children I have worked with the most and who I have witnessed dramatic changes in – as well as in their parents.
3) By acknowledging the above, I do not seek to “blame” parents. People can only do what they know about – and the gist of most of my parenting work is that our society does not know what a child is and thus has wrong – and harmful – expectations of normality. Parents trying to do the best that they can in such circumstances are to be met with compassion – not castigation. That is what I am trying to do. But it is no use saying all the things I have to say and ignoring the part the parents play – it is they, after all, who may not recognize the enormous need for sleep, for instance, that their children need. Or that it is ok for some children to not cope with pre-school. Parents need to find the strength and the information to turn against many of our society’s norms in terms of how to raise children – that is what I am trying to provide, an alternative voice. Through my parenting workshops, this blog, my discussion forum – that is my mission and perhaps the most important part of Christopherus’ work.
4) And of course there are the children who, despite not being vaccinated, having their senses nurtured and not overstimulated, despite great care in their diets and a simple, well ordered home life, still have autism-spectrum disorders or other challenges. Of course. Of course. And here one can only marvel at the heightened sensitivity of this child and how she meets the world and continue to work to protect and nurture her so that she can develop to her highest potential. Again, Waldorf continues to be extraordinarily helpful on this path, to the child and to the parents.
5) I do not think that Waldorf can “cure” all children. Those children who do indeed have autism or such will not be “cured” by a Waldorf home. But they might become a great deal easier to live with and find an enormously increased amount of peacefulness in their everyday lives through elements adapted from Waldorf methods of parenting. I have seen this as well in my work.
I think that is all clear now…. I am sure some people will still be upset with me…. But I have said my truth based not on book knowledge and ideas but on the practical everyday application that I have lived and worked with for over 25 years. I offer this to you in good faith and with blessings to you, your family, and your special child.
Posted on August 9, 2007 in Active and Therapeutic Education