by Debra Muzikar
We’ve all heard of horse whisperers, people who have an unusual affinity to communicate with horses. Over the last several years, I’ve become aware a few of my friends on Facebook can be described as autism whisperers. My friend, James McCue, last week started a new Facebook site – The Autism Whisperer.
“What is an autism whisperer?” I ask.
“An autism whisperer is someone who speaks to the spirit of the person, not the behaviors, the ‘isms,’ or the challenges. An autism whisperer can communicate to the person’s inner essence,” James says.
How does an autism whisperer do that?”
“The first thing is to be present with the person. This can be speaking or in silence. It can be by walking in a forest, or drawing. It is about participating with the child or person.”
James was an unusual child himself with a bright and restless mind. “I was diagnosed as ADHD and put on Ritalin.” Later he went to Loma Linda behavioral medicine program and found he was allergic to artificial colors and additives which caused his behavioral problems. When he eliminated the additives he was able to get off the Ritalin.
James has always felt different.
“I look up to the stars and wonder which one I’m from,” he says.
It wasn’t until he met Temple Grandin at an autism conference in 2004 that he had the first indication he could be on the spectrum himself.
“When were you diagnosed?” Temple asked him.
“I’m not on the spectrum. I work with Autistic people,” James replied.
“Uh huh,” Temple said. James says he thinks Temple saw the autism in him. Are my mannerisms that obvious? he thought.
“She was whispering to me,” James says.
Later a psychiatrist confirmed James indeed was Asperger’s.
“Oh no, don’t label me,” was James first reactions. On reflection, James came to accept the reality of his diagnosis.
“I’ve always had challenges with maintaining relationships,” he said. “It’s not difficult for me to initiate, but I can’t sustain intimacy. My other challenge is with money. I don’t value the importance of it like other people.”
“I also have things I peseverate on,” he said.
He feels some of the things that helped him as a child can help others.
“Mom had polio and would hire people who loved to hike to take me into the forest on nature walks. The people she hired weren’t shamanic but had a deep appreciation for nature. My grandfather was a farmer. He instilled with me a respect for nature, especially water.”
James also had an affinity for drawing.
“I would draw ink drawings as a kid with both hands. I loved to duplicate mazes,” he says. James has perfected his drawings on the computer creating his own unique mandalas and geometric designs.
“I take images and flip them creating a world out of another world,” James says.
One of the most significant memories from his childhood was of talking to a holy man, who was completely blue.
“The master came to me in physical form,” James relates. “He told me that I would have difficult times in my life but to remember life is about love. That is the reason we are here. Then he disappeared.” Over his life, James has had other messages from energies who manifest themselves in physical form and help direct him on his path.
“It’s always about being positive and looking at life for the gift it is,” James says.
James feels that animals help direct us.
“The greatest challenge is to shut up and listen to the guides around us. They give us signs,” he says.
“Have you noticed how animals don’t like to look at you in the eyes?” James asks. James knows when animals look at him in the eyes or cross in front of his path they are giving him a message.
James has been working with Autistic people for close to thirty years. He started his autism career at Devereux Santa Barbara. One of the first clients he had was Ned Christopher, son of William and Barbara Christopher. William Christopher is known for his part as Father Mulhahy on the popular series MASH. The Christopher’s have written a book about raising an autistic child called Mixed Blessings.
“When I first met Ned I saw there was someone in there trying to get out.” Ned was heavily medicated. He was mostly nonverbal and would use repetitive phrases to communicate.”
“I saw the beauty in his person,” James says.
James introduced a type of facilitated communication to Ned – a yes or no board.
“Later we added maybe. This gave Ned choice and control,” James said. “After many hours of sensory integration Ned advanced to the computer.”
During the time James worked with Ned, Ned’s aggressive behavior dropped from four or five incidents a day to one or two a month. His medication was gradually reduced.
“Devereux hired extra staff to help Ned through the withdrawals of the medication,” James says.
Ned’s father Bill was a spokesperson for the Autism Society of America.
“Bill was always up on the latest research,” James said. “He paid for me to work a week under John Upledger to learn about cranial sacral therapy,” he says.
“At first I was skeptical. But after a couple days I felt the pulse. John teaches us to ask the inner physician what do you want me to do. We all have that inner doctor.”
James when on tho get certifications in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, Cranial Sacral therapy, and various deep tissue body therapies.
He started working with Serena Sutherland, a sensory integration therapist in Santa Barbara.
He realized when people were having difficult times, as a healer he was “holding space” for them.
“My patience level went through the roof,” James says. “During this time I was able to work through my own issues with rage.”
More recently, James has worked with Ivonne Alexander’s son, Christian, who James describes as a “Golden Child.”
“He’s way past Indigo,” James says. Ivonne has written a yet-to-be-published book The Spiritual Face of Autism.
James left Santa Barbara a few years ago to help his mom make her transition to the other side. After she died he moved to a remote area, Jemez Springs, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It is only recently James has felt his soul tugging him to become involved in autism again.
“The other day I was out in nature and I received spiritual messages from Serena Sutherland (who passed to the other side) and my mom. They encouraged me to get back into autism. The next day Kelly Green posted this image on the Facebook page Artists and Autism and then I created the Autism Whisperer page.”
James is listening to the signs.
James is available for consultations by Skype and in person. His skill set includes body work; vocational and rehabilitation training; neurofeedback administration; Eco therapeutic facilitation; sensory integration, physical therapy; behavior management; independent living skills, chronic pain and stress management.
He welcomes parents and neurodiverse people to visit him in Jemez Springs.