Parapsychology

Autism and Psychic Gifts

One of the points I make in my forthcoming book, The Source and Significance of Coincidences, is that coincidences can sometimes serve as a means of communication between people when other channels have been blocked. For instance, I include the stories of several people who were far away from their loved ones and unable to connect with them by normal means but through some mysterious process were able to send them an important message by way of a broken necklace, a tap from a butterfly, a fallen bottle of perfume, or a map on the screen of a smartphone.

This use of coincidences when other channels of communication are cut off mirrors a larger pattern within the world of psychic phenomena. I describe in The Source and Significance how some of the most psychically gifted individuals are those who have trouble communicating in any other way, and autistics individuals are an excellent example of this.

William Stillman, a psychic medium who also has Asperger’s syndrome, has written extensively about the psychic gifts of autistic people,[1] gifts that can sometimes be unsettling to others. For instance, a mother named Theresa told Stillman about how her 10-year-old autistic son Andrew could hear her internal monologues and in many cases act out the fears she was mentally expressing. “I would be at someone’s home,” she says, “and think in my mind, ‘I hope he doesn’t pull down the drapes.’ No sooner could I finish my thought, and he would walk over to the drapes and begin to swing on them like Tarzan. I was infuriated because I knew he could somehow hear my fear.” Theresa also explains how Andrew’s ability to hear what others are thinking causes him to be overwhelmed in crowds, and she has had to help him learn how to regulate the flow of this information.[2]

Autistic adult Devlyn Lighthawk downplays the specialness of her telepathic abilities, noting that “telepathy is just us talking, beyond words, you know,”[3] but the accuracy of the telepathic abilities of autistic people can sometimes be positively uncanny. The grandfather of an autistic child named Noah relates what happened when the inclusion specialist at Noah’s school was giving him a series of tests. According to the grandfather,

…when she completed the testing for the math skills and savant syndrome, she asked him, “Who is my sister-in-law?” and he wrote her name on his device. Then she asked, “When did she get married?” and he wrote the date on his device. Next she asked “Whose birthday is today?” and he wrote the name. Then she asked, “How do you know?” and he wrote, “God tells me.” She asked him next, “Does He tell you everything?” and Noah wrote, “Yes.”[4]

As Noah’s response might suggest, autistic telepathy is not limited to telepathic connections with those in the same room. Autistic author Donna Williams relates some of her childhood telepathic experiences in her autobiography Nobody Nowhere, writing,

At school strange things were happening. I would have daydreams in which I was watching children I knew. I would see them doing the trivialist of things: peeling potatoes over the sink, getting themselves a peanut butter sandwich before going to bed. Such daydreams were like films in which I’d see a sequence of everyday events which really didn’t relate in any way to myself. I began to test the truth of these daydreams; approaching the friends I’d seen in them and asking them to give a step-by-step detailed picture of what they were doing at the time I had the daydream.

Amazingly, to the finest detail, I would find I had been right. This was nothing I had controlled, it simply came into my head, but it frightened me.[5]

In fact, Williams may have been receiving this information through clairvoyance rather than telepathy. Telepathic ability in autistic people, as with others, seems to be only one aspect of their psychic gifts, which may include sensitivity to the spirits of the deceased[6] as well as precognition. Stillman reports multiple instances in which autistic children were able to foresee specific future events: for instance, a fireworks accident and the 2000 Concorde crash.[7] One high-functioning and verbal autistic boy told his mother out of the blue that her mother was going to die in 88 days. He turned out to be wrong. She died only 85 days later.[8]

If you are intrigued by these stories, you’ll definitely also want to check out the scientific research that psychiatrist Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell is currently conducting on the telepathic abilities of autistic savants. I’ve written about her research in a previous post, which you can find here.

And, as always, if you or someone you know have had any personal experiences along these lines, please drop me a note in the Comments section below. I would love to hear from you!

[1] William Stillman, Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2006); William Stillman, The Soul of Autism: Looking Beyond Labels to Unveil Spiritual Secrets of the Heart Savants (Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2008); and William Stillman, The Autism Prophecies: How an Evolution of Healers and Intuitives Is Influencing Our Spiritual Future (Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2010).

[2] Stillman, The Soul of Autism, 89.

[3] Stillman, Autism and the God Connection, 22.

[4] Stillman, The Soul of Autism, 196.

[5] Donna Williams, Nobody Nowhere: The Remarkable Autobiography of an Autistic Girl, rev. ed. (London: Jessica Kingsley, 1992, 1999), 67-68.

[6] Stillman’s books contain many examples of autistic people’s perceptions of spirits and angels, most of them tremendously positive. However, in Chapter 8 of The Source and Significance of Coincidences, I also relate some of the more negative encounters autistic people have had with spirit entities.

[7] Stillman, Autism and the God Connection, 88-93.

[8] Stillman, Autism and the God Connection, 123-4.

[1] William Stillman, Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2006), 187.

[2] Stillman, Autism and the God Connection, 195-6.

19 thoughts on “Autism and Psychic Gifts”

  1. I have Aspergers, and I have been a sensitive since I can remember. Now, however, if I concentrate on people, I can see personal details about their life. Not the future in any way though. I have done 8 energy readings in a row, and I was able to see entities that only the other psychics knew where there. I’ve also heard spirits answer questions now and then when I have no way of knowing the answer.

  2. Me as well I have aspergers Syndrome and I have had a long history of precognitions . Meditation made them alot stronger.

  3. What a fascinating set of observations. As a psychologist, I frequently do evaluations of autistic individuals, and as someone who understands that parapsychology is valid (though our quantitative measures are rather pitiful means of understanding psi) I’ve noticed that autistic individuals often have psychic perceptions.

    I don’t know if you’ve worked with artists in this regard, but you may have read somewhere that musicians often score high on psi ability. Before working in psychology I was a professional pianist/composer for some years, and noticed that many of my musician/dancer/artist friends had fairly frequent spontaneous psi perceptions.

    I have vivid memories of certain psi perceptions from my earlier years. They still happen fairly frequently but I’m so used to them I generally let them go without paying all that much attention to them.

    After some point, it’s possible simply to experience life as an ongoing continuum of synchronicities, so rather than noticing a particular “coincidence,” it’s possible to see all as co-arising (co-inciding!).

    Then things get really fun:>))

    Thanks for your site. I came across it looking for essays on life as a dream and saw your Psychology Today article. I was particularly struck by the fact that you recovered from being a traditional academic, something all too rare these days.

    1. Hi, Don! Thanks for commenting. It’s always nice to meet someone else from academe who is open to these sorts of phenomena–usually because they’ve experienced them themselves, as you have! I love what you say about eventually experiencing life as “an ongoing continuum of synchronicities.” I do think that the more attentive we are, the more we see that EVERYTHING is shaped by the connection between minds and matter. (Ultimately, I think matter is just mind as well, but that’s another story….)

      1. What is matter? Never mind.

        What is mind? No matter.

        on the other hand (another story) – one of my favorite lines from Sri Aurobindo on consciousness (Chit-Shakti):

        “Consciousness is the fundamental thing in the universe — it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates that universe and all that is in it. The microcosm and macrocosm are nothing but consciousness arranging itself. ”

  4. oh, thought you might enjoy this one. it’s a lesson in being careful who you tell these stories too.

    It was the first day of my doctoral internship My 3 other fellow interns were all neuropsychology specialists (which means, for those who don’t know neuropsychologists, they were particularly wedded to a materialist view). We were sitting waiting for a particularly boring security seminar at the first day at the VA Hospital, chatting about this and that.

    I’ve always been fascinated with varying ethnic backgrounds (growing up in the NY City suburbs, there were always people from all over the world around). So I said to one of the interns (with an italian american surname), “Hey, I bet I could guess your cultural background.”

    She was up for it, so, of course, the first part was easy – her Dad was Italian background, and it was pretty easy to guess his parents (most likely getting married in the 1940s) were also both Italian.

    I then looked carefully at her face, my thoughts calming down, “saw” ‘English’ and ‘German”, and I suppose you could say it was a 50-50 guess, and said, “your mother’s mother was English background and her father was German.”

    Right again.

    And I should have left it at that, but some more images came up and I kept on talking – of course, I was labeled “woo” after that!

    I said, “Oh, and you have a brother, he’s 3 years older, and he’s in finance (pregnant pause)….. and he’s married, and he’s taken a year off from work and is living in England, and his wife just got pregnant.”

    Silence.

    Every detail correct.

    Uncomfortable shuffling.

    It’s funny, I told this on an academic forum (Journal of Consciousness Studies forum) and at least half a dozen male academics tried to write it off as coincidence. Finally a woman (I tend to find women more open to the possibility of psi – even academics!) so, “Ok, I give up. There’s no way that could be just guessing, and I have no other explanation.”

    Cool!

      1. Just wanted to share a follow-up thought. Sharon, I just read your paper “Coincidence of Psi.” I’m sure I haven’t studied it carefully enough, but I think it doesn’t cover one aspect of apparent “coincidences.”

        No doubt, you know that when people refer to telephone psi (I was thinking of someone and then they call) there are all kinds of explanations regarding the likelihood of this happening many times.

        And I think, in terms of the black and white way this is described, without any account of the person’s state of mind, the doubters are correct.

        I’ve had the experience, probably hundreds of times, of thinking of someone, and then they called. Most of the time, it’s quite obvious to me this is not necessarily “proof” of psi.

        However, taking one’s inner state into account, something very different can be seen. About a dozen or so times, suddenly, I had such a vivid sense of the presence of a friend – someone about whom I had not thought of in months or even years – and the sense that they wanted to contact me – that it was almost as though they suddenly were physically present. Inevitably, when this has happened, I either have gotten a phone call within minutes or received an email within minutes.

        There are no exceptions – i’ve never had this experience when it wasn’t immediately followed by an email or phone call.

        I would hazard a guess, even with the time slice method, that the odds against this being “merely chance” would be astronomical.

        Thought you might be interested in that.

        (now, there was the time my wife and I saw the movie Ghost, about a week after visiting my Aunt Betty, who at the time had a terminal case of lung cancer. After seeing the movie, we got home and for some reason, decided to sit out on our porch, and suddenly both of us – silently then telling each other about it – had the most vivid sense of Aunt Betty’s presence.

        As we were sitting there, my brother called to say Betty’s daughter had just called him to say Aunt Betty had passed away.

        What was particularly interesting is that Bob (my brother), my wife and I had visited Aunt Betty in Santa Fe the week before. We were the only people she knew – in our extended family or among the many dozens of friends she had – who had even the slightest interest or belief in the possibility of consciousness surviving the death of the body.

        We had the strongest feeling that after “dying,” Betty suddenly found herself in a realm which she had vehemently disbelieved while she was in the body, and she was drawn to contact us as a way of helping her understand what was happening.

        Who knows (“who” indeed!!)

      2. Thank you for sharing your telephone/email telepathy experiences! I think you’re absolutely right that focusing on cases where there’s a strong mental conviction or sense of presence before the “coincidence” produces much more convincing statistics. And it’s amazing to me how often people have this strong feeling before a coincidence happens. I myself have experienced it a handful of times. Your experiences are also interesting in that they particularly reflect a desire for contact, on the part of one or more parties. I think that desire for contact explains a great many coincidences, even ones in which the connection is not so obvious.

  5. m going to comment because I was diagnosed autistic at age 4

    This was because in “pre school”(in the uk this is basically a class that takes place before year 1) I acted differently to everyone else, I would sit at the back of the class and not talk to any of the other kids much at all from what I remember I wouldnt take part in many activities I seemed to just sit at the back of class and stay quiet, I remember would sit and cut paper while watching the “teachers” do basic math with objects such as 7+2 I remember vividly feeling underwhelmed by this as if to think “this is basic I already know this”

    Im no math genius but it was an easy subject for me all through primary school

    Ive struggled with anxiety probably my whole life but didnt really comprehend what it was until secondary school at age 11 when it got really bad, this continued until I left shcool at 15 as year 10 started…….

    I had a few good friends in my life mainly at home where I could be more of myself and didnt have to suppress as much as I did at school.

    Anyway fastforward to 19 after I had taken a LSD a couple times and had 10’s of trips on magic mushrooms, on one trip I saw repeating visions of a girl, I thought nothing of it, after this intense trip out in nature I started really learning about and understanding reality and myself in ways like never before, I changed allot in a few months and went onto a course designed for people between colleges or just leaving secondary school, this course was simply to gain experience and meet people(basically to give you many taster events of other courses available in the hopes you would join one of them or at least figure out what you like)

    (I promise this all ties together im trying to make this as compact as possible) this first day of the course I felt my anxiety creeping up as usual as the start of the course approached, before I walked out the front door I told myself “I have awareness NOT ANXIETY”, instead of impending doom I felt familiarity this continued when I got picked up to go to the course(a staff member on the course was picking up a few of us so we wouldnt have to take a bus) when she got the paper out for the next pickup and read the name off it “david” I had a flash of a memory months earlier where I met someone called for some reason I was sure he would be on the course, we arrived at the pickup, I was in the front seat and the person got in behind me, i told myself no way but seconds later I felt a tap on my back and it was in fact the david I had met months earlier through a mutual friend, my mind was slightly blown but I wrote this off as a coincidence.

    When we arrived at the course I had a feeling come over me like I was supposed to be there I have never felt anything like it in my life, I was getting familiar vibes constantly, I was analyzing everyone I could see trying to place this feeling, there was one person I couldnt really see because they were obscured by someone else. This first day of the course was short and ended quickly as it was simply discussing what the coming weeks would be and signing papers, filling out forms ect.

    The next day of the course was a teambuilder exercise we went to a lasertag event in a woodland which was surprisingly fun I actually let go and went beast mode and showed my true self talking to people, probably more than anyone else there my mind was blown, once this ended and we were on the bus going back, someone said “you look familiar have we met before” It was a girl and I finally made eye contact with the person I couldnt see because they were obscured on that first day, my first thought was this is some chatup line as on first glance I didnt remember ever meeting them and I ALWAYS remember people ive met often when they dont.

    The moment I made eye contact IT CLICKED and I remembered my vision that I had on my psycadelic/mushroom trip I froze and played it off cool, I said “i’ll add you on facebook maybe we’ve met through someone in the past” after adding them I frantically looked for mutual friend but there wasnt any that I had met………

    The moment I got home I dropped to the ground in shock, my brain couldnt handle what it had just learned, for some reason a desire came over me, I immediately sat in meditation position and I asked to see the same visions from my mushroom trip……..

    I was thinking “memory recovery” if I can see those images again I will know if it was really her I saw, after meditating and completely letting go the same images flashed and I KNEW 100% it was her that I saw on my trip, I was in deep trance at this point and the moment after those images flashed, I was thrown into an immersive vision of a future encounter between us.

    I was never the same after this, and then within 5 weeks that second vision I saw came to fruition, a vision I was NOT on mushrooms to see.

    I learned I was psychic, and my reality changed forever

    I now wonder if much of the “anxiety” Ive always felt before events is simply feeling incoming timelines and events, this is known as clairsentience or pyschic feeling

    I do not see myself the same way after this, I wish I could say I have had hundreds of visions since but after doing it a few times I havent felt much of a desire to as my ego gets in the way and worries about the implications, it is also extremely isolating as there are so few in my life currently that could grasp the concept.

    I know this is all very hard to believe but this comment is for the person that may see it and better know them-self because of it, I totally understand if this is unbelievable and I always saw psychics as con men growing up and ridiculed people for believing it with no evidence BUT I HAVE EXPERIENCED IT, I just had to let go enough for it to flow into my being.

    I have more psychic abilities for example I often know a couple seconds before something happens, I guess things right that I shouldnt logically be able know such as peoples ages that I dont know, sometimes I even finish peoples sentences or outright say what they were going to say right as or ever before they do, this happens especially with certain people I can read well.

    I hope this comment helps someone or makes you realize that kid with autism or ADHD might have allot more going on than you can imagine.

    I no longer believe in autism or ADHD in the same way its simply a box they try and group us into to explain why we may act different, but rest assured we are all very different people.

    Theres good reason psychic experiences are more common in people with aspergers, autism and ADHD

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Daniel! This is all fascinating, especially the fact that you saw multiple precognitive visions of the same person. I wonder, what kind of role is this young woman playing in your life now? Do you think there’s a reason that your precognitive visions picked her out instead of anyone else? Also, have you ever asked her if she figured out why YOU looked familiar to HER? (Did she have a vision of her own, perhaps?)

      1. Well I believed this was my twin flame or some kind of past life/soulmate connection

        as well as “david” the interesting part about david was that we had met before but hadnt really noticed eachother I guess we both have to be “in tune” to see who we really are, david actually mentioned past lives to me, hes not spiritual as much as me but he is definitely spiritual in his own way and has many similarities as well as understanding allot of the same concepts I do but only when we are both on that same wavelength, someone in public once asked if we were siblings and “we have the same energy” was the answer that slipped out of my mouth

        All I can say about the girl is I found her extremely magnetic for reasons I dont know it was like my abilities kicked in full force after meeting her, I no longer see her or talk much at all but I could notice serious shifts if I even got within a few feet of her, I see myself in her like I can catch my own reflection and I see her resemblance in me, its a huge head fuck to be honest

        I cant bring myself to tell her, Ive lost my temper so many times one of the last things I said to her over message was “did you ever figure out why i was familiar?” to which her response was “no ahah” its heart wrenching

        When we met she was on bad terms with he boyfriend and things turned flirty, part of that second vision was actually one of those lets just say flirty experiences with her I of course after all my changes and realizations completely forgot she had a boyfriend and I think she kinda did too because once that happened she backed wayyyy wayyyy off and friendzoned my ass, she did try and flirt again later but I didnt reciprocate but didnt shoot it down either since she’d already backed off and it really clicked that she had a boyfriend and I didnt wanna fuck around but I couldnt stop myself replying to her even if I wouldnt flirt.

        I saw her one more time but things were dead, I still felt the connection the energy and its as if I start “tripping” just by getting near her my perception expands massively, the next time she invited me to a group outing I decided not to go.

        It plays on my mind allot what this connection is but in short last I knew she has NO IDEA to her im just a familiar face and an attractive one but she isnt aware that this is likely a deep past life connection at least……..

        When I ask for answers though divination methods im basically told shes important i hate to say it but I feel my run ins with her may not be done, part if me thought this must be some kind of lesson.

        Lately things have taken a dark turn though, turns out shes pregnant, she hinted and hinted at it until it flooded into my intuition so now I really cant see how we would have a future she has a boyfriend and is pregnant……..

        Part of me is so relieved we never went any further because she mentioned she was on birth control which is what she cited as the cause of one of her “migraines”

        I mean I just think damn…… that kid shes carrying is probably an accident and if I had gone further or flirted more THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME, its hard to tell if I dodged a bullet, or all this was supposed to happen or what

        I actually cant bring myself to currently get answers or attempt to have another vision as if I see me and her in a vision my mind just cant comprehend how thats possible when shes just turned 18 and pregnant with a boyfriend and ive just turned 20 myself……

        I met her after committing to myself and my path fully all I can do is work on myself because I do need work and see what happens.

        I dont know why but ive told her more intimate detials about myself than anyone despite us barely talking and it seems she has done the same the most fucked up part is that I was the one that seemed more bothered about her being pregnant that she was, part of me feels she doesnt understand the magnitude of a child, im still pretty immature and not long ago she was acting extremely immature.

        From what ive heard about the so called “twin flame” dynamic is that usually one person is awakened more than the other and its usually the woman, but im my case its me…….

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