My cousin Adam is autistic. He’s one of the lucky ones. He’s a functional autistic now in his late 40’s and working as a gas station attendant.

My most vivid memory of our childhood was him coming to visit on Christmas Day. My father always had a full fire going in the fireplace to warm us in the cold Detroit weather. When Adam came by he took a seat on the couch in front of the fireplace and stayed there the entire visit. Sometimes I would watch him as he sat there and occasionally rocked quietly. At first I would go to him and sit nearby and say a few words. But as he rocked and fixated on the fire it was clear that he was not going to answer me.

His mother, my first cousin taught him to communicate through sign language. Evidently this was a great decision for him because I believe that this is part of the reason he is functional in society today.

As I watched him I used to imagine being inside of his head. He seemed like he had some type of communication going on but it was within himself. In my mind I thought he was just talking to God. He seemed to have a full life inside of his head and he just tuned all of us out – almost as if we were the invisible ones.

Later when I majored in early childhood development in college I would often think of Adam. Part of my education was learning about autism. Then as I moved into a focus on children’s spirituality I deepened my interest in autism. I observed more children and read more research and drew my own conclusions.

Perhaps autism is a deeply spiritual experience.

Quite frankly as I got older I met other people who reminded me of Adam in various ways. I began to learn that some people have a deep connection with an inner voice that speaks to them daily. All of us have this inner voice but some people focus on it quite a bit. At the other extreme are people who are so focused on the outer world that they do not even recognize that the inner world exits. I’ve learned that to some degree people who are deeply spiritual have a deep focus on this inner voice.

People who are autistic have a deep focus on their inner voice. Perhaps it is a deep connection with the spiritual side within them. Perhaps their communication connects them with a world of unseen supporters that we believe in but cannot access. Perhaps people with autism are the liaisons to connect us to our heavenly reality. Perhaps autism is a deeply spiritual experience.

So often when people are different from the norm we spend lots of time, money and energy trying to get them to conform to the norm. While the norm is important for our cohesiveness as a society, learning from those who are outside of the norm is also important. So perhaps our approach to autism could be one of learning from them to understand more about our own spiritual connection. And maybe through sign language we can learn more about what is going on inside of the minds of those autistics who benefit from sign language.

Or maybe we just need to sit by the fireplace with those who are autistic or who are deeply focused on their inner world. If this is what autism is – a spiritual experience – there are many of us on the planet would could benefit by being a little autistic.

Author's Bio: 

Norma T. Hollis, America’s Leading Authentic Voice Doctor® helps people find, live and share their authentic voice. Norma offers various authenticity products, programs and seminars across the country focused on personal development, leadership, youth, women and professional speaking. Take Norma’s Authenticity Assessment and participate in the free Authentic Tuesday calls to live more abundantly with authenticity. These gifts are available at