I entered the discipline of Special Education in 1986. Many have asked me then what was ‘special’ about education. Later when I started to focus on Autism I was asked was it similar to Spastics or Downs. Services were provided with a charity bias. Since then the services sector moved to Rights mode of service delivery. Many persons with challenges became spokespersons themselves for the Disability sector. However those with autism stayed voiceless and mute unable or unwilling to be heard.
Having spent more than 3 decades I have seen the service model evolve as awareness grew among professionals and the general public. In the 90’s top of the heap was the Medical Model, each decade witnessed a perceptual and paradigm shift to Therapeutic and later the Social Model for Rehabilitation. Inclusive Education and Inclusion became the catch word or Mantra in the last decade. The catch word slogan was “Nothing about us without us”. Still Autism was invisible, we defined Autism form our limited perspective.
It is here that The Lotus Foundation steals the thunder it provides Spiritual Model for Rehabilitation of Autistic Individuals. The cofounders Nandini Santhanam and Vijaykant were inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. However what is practiced at Lotus is an advanced evolved version of Steiner. The basic tenet of Lotus lies in acknowledging the third and most crucial dimension: body mind and Spirit. The person with autism chose autism, to inhabit this body and live on this planet to the chosen family by choice and not be default. Once the disease-deficit- disability model is discarded and divinity is accorded then we are practically on thin ice, the foundation has shaken. Autism Mythology is busted.
We need to recreate from the start, the more we travelled in the old route the more lost we would be. Then where do we go from here?
Lotus shows that to work with these persons you need to have Heartism. One must be driven by Unconditional love and possess a nonjudgmental attitude. Lotus teaches that one must not be driven by methodology but by Love. Lotus staff accepts the child where s/he is and approach with a sense of dedication and humility to be led in the divine path, this is what I would call the platinum standard of caregiving.
The vision and mission document, The Lotus Manifesto and the curriculum will I hope find resonance not only within India but rest of the world.
I cherish my association with Lotus; the children, parents and staff. Let many more Lotus bloom all over. I pray that Humanity will rise up to meet the Masters on the Spectrum.
All the best