Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Monday, March 24, 2008


We are controlled in this country by a ruling elite, whether we wish to recognize it or not. The elite have their paths paved for them. The middle class struggle to survive and are burdened and the elite seek to make them slaves to the system. For example, a middle class young person will be burdened with student loan debt possibly until the day they retire, the elite do not face this. The elite have created this system to keep people 'in their place'. For the poor, the elite have sought to entice them with financial incentives if they will go along with the sad debacle of having their children labeled as 'crazy' or to be shipped off to fight the wars that the elite have created and benefit from. Some are more than willing to submit to this system, to receive the governmental handouts and to abdicate their freedom as well as any responsibility for themselves or their children. The elite seeks to keep this nation ingorant and stupid. Our educational system has become not about learning at all but rather regurgitation of information as the elite would have it. There is no present presidential candidate or any poltiician for that matter that can really save us from the mess we are in. Our only real hope is for people to flee from ignorance and to awaken to the real situation we are in, and for there to exist a true effort to restore social justice. Is it too late?
We must examine the inherent dynamics within families and within society where individuals enact violence upon one another to obtain their own particular selfish interests. This violence may be subtle and may even be said to be done because of love, but underlying it is selfish interest and desire. People are looking to fit a particular model of what it is to 'fit the norm'. Be it cosmetic surgery or psychiatric drugs, we are seeking to escape the actual realities of the human condition. We seek distractions and entertainments. We do not truly want to face the human condition. We only seek to try to escape it. Those who do not fit to our desires are made to be scapegoats, or they are shuffled away, or their freedom is taken away from them. We do not seek to udnerstand them nor do we want to understand them. In families, there can often be one child who is designated 'the problem' and all the dysfunction and turmoil of the family is laid upon this child. They will be the one drugged into submission or sent away so that the family can continue to pursue their selfish interests.
Can we once again become people of compassion? Can we once again be people of understanding? Can we accept what it means to be human? Can we be a human family?

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


When children have experieced abuse and abandonment in early childhood, this often becomes a 'seared in' memory and halts emotional development to the point where the trauma occurred. They may be seen to have a more 'infantile' mind. These feelings of abandonment are often furthered by demeaning words and condescending language used with the child. Each times this occurs, the child begins to look at themselves as a 'non-entity'. They experience existential death. The external conflict that children see amongst their parents becomes an internal conflict for them, the internal conflict then manifests itself externally (usually as aggression). The child becomes devoid of trust, and those who draw near often becomes the persons who this internal conflict is unleashed upon. It is not that the child is devoid of any feeling for the person seeking to connect with them, it is rather that every connection had strings attached or every connection has been severed. The child becomes anxious and afraid of loss, of even losing themselves, if they are to try again to embark on the process of building a trusting relationship. Laing (1969) stated that 'if there is anything the schizoid individual is likely to believe in, it his his own destructiveness. He is uanble to believe that he can fill his own emptiness without reducing what is there to nothing.' It will be common then for these children to question whether they deserve 'happiness' and many times question if they even 'deserve to exist'. The children who have undergone the trauma of abuse and abandonment lack an identity of their own, they appear as a construct of others and often are conformist. They do what they feel will earn them the praise of others. But in reality this is based on their own fears and their negative perceptions of themselves. These children are prone to be seen as manipulative, but this is because they are seeking to exercise control over some aspect of their lives when prior they had absolutely no control. They strive for ideals they cannot be met. Often their intense desire to control or to engage in certain activities in reality is a crying out for their real desire- to have an actual loving and trusting relationship. But these children do not know how to respond to an outpouring of love. They feel that they do not have a voice, are not heard. It is easier for them to feel hated than engulfed by love, particularly when they have seen love to be about control. They desire autonomy and feel they will lose it in the process of building a true relationship. These children may begin to also de-personalize, they may not be prepared to relate to other persons. They may be perceived as lacking empathy, however this is not that it is not there or could not be there, rather it is their fear that blocks their emotional expression of empathy.
These children are often very hurt so they feel they must hurt others.
What do we do? How do we reach such a child? It requires a patient approach. We must allow the child to vent their frustrations. We must share our understanding that we know they are hurt. We must journey with them as they relate their experience of trauma. We do not judge them or withdraw. Even when their emotional expressions may cause us to be afraid, we continue to reach out. We need to be able to forge relationship know matter what and to help the child come to an understanding of life's impermanency, yet we can still strive for happiness now. The trauma is past and does not need to haunt us. We can encourage this child to explore their own sense of self and engage in activities that give them a positive sense of self worth apart from others. Caregivers and others need to make themselves emotionally available, to look at emotional expression as a time for intimacy and teaching. We need to be able to understand the behaviors, even that which are annoying to us, as a means of communication, and when the child is in the 'right space', to communicate with them and help them process those feelings that were behind whatever incident occurred.
We may be prone to drug the child because the behaviors are seen as 'out of control' or 'disturbing', but whereas this may cause the problematic behavior to lessen, we may be making a grave mistake. We may be subduing the very process by which the child is able to release the tension and pain. We may be numbing but not looking a tthe root cause. Unless we see the behavior, how can we truly know what to do? If we cannot allow the child to express their distress, how will we truly know of their distress?
To be simple, our means of reaching this child is this- to be with them unconditionally.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.


The causation of autism remains in the realm of theory and is speculative. There exists many approaches towards how individuals and society regard autistic individuals. Autism is an umbrella term. It is not a disease, nor is it really an 'entity' in itself. Rather, it is a description of how a person acts and how they relate to their world. Autism is thus very much a part of who the person is. Many programs (such as ABA) seek to alter the autistic person and make them something other. The question is what exactly are we seeking to make the autistic person into and how exactly are we going to make that change? Are we solely seeking to coerce and force a person to behave as a 'typical' person would? Are we programming the person to act in ways that the majority would find more acceptable? Are we assuming that the autistic person is not to be valued? Are we assuming that the autistic person has no innate strengths because they may be developmentally different?
Are we assuming that these individuals lack communication because they may not speak? Are we assuming the likes and dislikes of the autistic person? Are we assuming that they lack intellect?
The attitudes that we put forward are readily understood and perceived. Because an autistic person may lack verbal communication does not mean they do not communicate. It is for the non-autistic persons to be able to learn the language. And it is hear that I given an analogy of what our relationship and help to autistic persons should be. If I am from India and speak Hindi, and I move to England, should I be expected to give up my culture, my language, my identity and adopt all that it means to be 'English'? However, if I do not learn English and something about what life is like in England, I may indeed have some challenges within that society. Therefore, those who wish to help the autistic person should not be set on the notion that they must change the person or force them to be 'typical' but rather accept their developmental difference and guide them into understanding something about the majority who are unlike them, so that they can be able to navigate through society with lesser challenges.
It is necessary for us to see beyond the label. It is necessary for us to understand the autistic person's experience and not come to assumptions based solely on what we may conclude from our limited observation. We must respect the autonomy of autistic persons, allowing them to advocate for themselves, and not bore them with rote exercises that frustrate them or with conceptions that they are a nuisance and that part of who they are must be eradicated. We can begin to join in with them, we can help to forge emotional connections. The autistic person may struggle with their conceptions of bodily space, they may experience sensory challenges that make the mainstream world a confusing place to be. Those in the helping professions must keep sight of compassion and patience and be able to help the autistic person explore and navigate through the world at their own pace. We cannot overwhelm. But because an autistic person may face the challenges I mention does not mean that they lack understanding, often they understand very well, it is us non-autistic persons who do not understand but think that we do. We can only understand by being with and joining with those who know firsthand what it is to be developmentally different.
We can seek to be guides and facilitators, to provide a voice when one may be lacking a voice, to journey with, not to coerce or change.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.