I put down Autism and the God Connection for a few days and came back to it last night. Chapter 3 details various paranormal experiences that autistic kids have had: a boy to whom cows are inexplicably drawn; a girl who predicted the Concorde would explode over Paris two days before it did; a horse whisperer; nonverbal children who communicate with telepathy. The author's implication is that these are special spiritual gifts bestowed upon some people on the spectrum.
Maybe they are. I've noticed that Ryan is drawn to other atypical kids, and they are often drawn to him. Ryan feels the need to follow a severely-retarded teenager around our local playground, and an obviously-autistic boy is constantly pursuing Ryan at a park near my parents' house. Is this due to paranormal activity? Is it like gaydar? I don't know.
I'm not a traditionally religious person. I was raised in an atheistic Jewish home, celebrating commercial Christmas in addition to secularized versions of the various Jewish holidays. In college, I wound up majoring in Religious Studies, because I found the subject academically fascinating, even if not personally meaningful to me.
That said, I believe that I have personally experienced God three times. And I'm still not sure what I believe.
The first time, while rushing through Grand Central Station, I looked up and saw God on one of the high arched windows. It looked like a bright, misty light, and felt like utter stillness.
Another time, I was sort of praying, which is strange because I don't think I believe in prayer, because I don't think there's a Conscious Force to be persuaded by human wishes. It was a clear evening, and I was sitting on a bench outside my apartment, trying to come to terms with The Diagnosis. I wished for a sign that everything would turn out alright. At that moment, I heard a low rumble and saw heat lightning, directly over my building. I said, "Is that the sign I was looking for?" and it happened a second and final time.
My most significant experience of God came the day before Ryan was born. Throughout the last couple of months of my pregnancy I had been plagued by a horrible itchiness. My skin crawled 24 hours a day, and nothing helped - I tried oatmeal baths, every anti-itch cream at the drug store, deep breathing... Blood tests had revealed nothing. Anyway, 38 weeks pregnant, I went for my weekly ob/gyn checkup. I parked at a 30-minute meter, thinking I would be in and out quickly, but she kept me in the waiting room for half an hour. As I headed over to my car to feed the meter, I saw a cop writing me a ticket. I started to run across the street to try to stop him, but I tripped and fell on my belly. My doctor sent me to the hospital for observation, and hey, as long as I was going to be there, why not do another blood test for the itchiness thing? The fall had not caused Ryan any injury, but the blood test revealed a liver imbalance that can cause stillbirth if delivery is not induced, preferably before the 38th week.
So thanks to Divine Intervention, my baby survived - he wasn't breathing and had to spend his first few days in NICU, but he survived. I carry a scar on my left elbow (check out that bandage!) as a constant reminder that everything happens for a reason, even if I can't figure out what that reason might be.