Autism - Meet Me Who I Am
Annual Conference from 10th to 12th of January 2020
About the conference: “I’m following the cosmos and going a fine balance between here and there. I’m going to lift the world into fine balance. History laughs, but I can do it. My song is that. I’m trying to sing – Akshaya, 12 years old Chennai, India”.
This quote from the book by Lakshmi Prasanna and Michael Kokinos, led us onto a journey of holistic understanding of Autism looking behind the diagnostic labels.
The conference commenced with a beautiful opening ceremony in the small amphitheatre of Arvindaalayam, the venue for the weekend with the lighting of the lamp by 5 persons representing different streams coming together for the conference. Sudha Athmaraj, founder member of Arvind Foundation gave a welcome address and introduced the faculty for the weekend. This was followed by a reading of an excerpt from the book. Staff and students of Arvindaalayam led us into a festive opening with a dance highlighting the festival of Pongal. Lakshmi and Hari from V Excel Foundation then rendered the most beautiful and touching performance of the opening ceremony, a dance that spoke from the inner core of Hari’s being.
We then were introduced to Dr. Christina Spitta who took us on a journey of 3 days into Spatial Dynamics and how to use it not just for others, but more for ourselves, so that we might be able to create the spaces that we need to work fruitfully. She also led a smaller working group and workshop to deepen the experience with people who felt they wanted to learn more. Her light heartedness and kind ways brought everyone to understand the need to have a sacred personal space that is well and dynamic, so that we can work out of that.
Lakshmi Prasanna then took over and we were introduced to her way of looking at Autism from a perspective that goes behind the label. On day 1, she worked with exploring the “social structures” and how we could work with them to create environments where people with Autism can fit in their roles. The phrase for the day was “Will To Love”. She enlivened her lectures by giving personal examples from her life as well as her work and this captivated the audience.
On day 2, she worked with nutrition to help us understand that nutrition meant not only food e.g. GFCF diet etc, but healthy nutrition as a whole, starting with the environment to self.
Healthy rhythms were also advised. She said we should be human in nutrition and the intention and consciousness which guides in the preparation of the food resounds in the people who eat it. The question she put forward was “how can I nourish the instrument to serve the soul spirit intention. The thought for this day was “the more we do for the environment, the less we do for the body”.
Day 3 we looked at Autism from the perspective of a developing child into the adolescent phase. This is a phase that can be challenging for the child and the environment. From birth to 7 years, the child should not be given a choice as this burdens the child. For the Rubicon period, the child pushes to see how much the persons around will give in. They are seeking boundaries that are not negotiable and non-quakeable. 13-15 years, all implications are outside them and everything is applicable to things outside them.
The Human Being will always remain imperfect because he or she is always striving. Development never stops. The question for the day was “where in me is autism?”
The evening sessions with Lakshmi were interactive. She took questions on the topic or shared from her personal experiences that allowed people to relate to her and the topic at hand.
For 2 afternoons we had art with Wahida where she led the whole group into an expression of colour. She worked with wet on wet painting while guiding the participants to experience what the process does to them.
Through the 3 days, we had workshops and working groups that the participants signed up for. These were conducted by facilitators and were based on the theme of the workshop. Spatial Dynamics with Christina Spitta, Autism from a Social Therapeutic aspect with Francis Aradhya, Toe Walking in Autism and the work with massage by John Miller, Joy Therapy by Neha and Puja and A journey to feeling what it is to live with Autism with Halina Rubisz.
These 3 days were filled and enriched with not only great lectures by our faculty, but with encounters and sharing between participants who said to each other – Meet Me Who I Am. We were nourished with simple but comfortable accommodation and wonderfully prepared food. A campfire with dancing and singing brought out the light and fun side of everyone. Old friends caught up and new friends got interested in each other. This workshop was truly a well organised one that was residential, affordable, trending topic, great faculty and a wonderful group of people working out of the inspiration of Anthroposophy. We look forward to the next workshop.