Stillman, William 1963–
Stillman, William 1963–
Born July 14, 1963. Education: Millersville University, B.S.
Author, 2002—. Founder, Pennsylvania Autism Self Advocacy Coalition (PASAC); member, Pennsylvania Autism Task Force; member of advisory boards, Autism Living and Working, Asperger's Syndrome Alliance of Pennsylvania, and Youth Advocate Programs' National Autism Committee. Consultant, Temple University. Previously employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as statewide point person for children and adolescents with mental health issues and autism.
(With Jay Scarfone)The Wizard of Oz Collector's Treasury, Schiffer Publishing (Atglen, PA), 1992.
(With Jay Scarfone)The Wizardry of Oz, Gramercy (New York, NY), 1999, revised and expanded edition, Applause Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Jay Scarfone)The Wizardry of Oz: The Film Classic Comes to Life with Sound and Stunning Three-Dimension, Piggy Toes Press (London, England), 2000.
Demystifying the Autistic Experience: A Humanistic Introduction for Parents, Caregivers, and Educators, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (Philadelphia, PA), 2003.
The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Asperger's Syndrome: Help, Hope, and Guidance, Adams Media (Avon, MA), 2005.
(With Naser Jeffrey, M.D.)The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Bipolar Disorder: Professional, Reassuring Advice to Help You Understand and Cope, Adams Media (Avon, MA), 2005.
(With Jay Scarfone)Today in History: Wizard of Oz; A Daily Dose of Oz Magic for Every Fan and Fanatic, Emmis Books (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.
Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2006.
The Autism Answer Book, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2007.
Columnist and member of advisory board,Autism Perspective.
William Stillman is best known for his works that explore the world of autistic children. Autism is a brain-development disorder (or, according to some experts, a series of behaviors associated with a disorder associated with children's developing brains) in which affected children show a lack of communication skills, impaired social interactions and set patterns of behavior. If these symptoms show up in children up to the age of three years, they can be diagnosed as autistic. Other types of brain-development disorders related to autism also exist; conditions such as Asperger's syndrome, Rhett's syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder, affect thousands of children across the United States today.
Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness is, in the words of the author's Internet home page, a "study of profound spiritual, mystical and metaphysical giftedness of some individuals with autism," and it "has resonated with parents, professionals, and persons with autism internationally." In the book Stillman examines anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that autistic children may have some special connection with spirituality. "Persons with developmental disabilities including autism," he told Lisa Jo Rudy in an interview for About.com, site, "have historically been marginalized, devalued, degraded, and abused." Some non-Western cultures, including Native American cultures, he stated, accord such people special status of a spiritual nature. "To me, existing in silence, as a number of autistics do, isn't any different than the person of high religious standing who takes a deliberate vow of silence—why would it be?" he continued. "So there's a double standard in who and what we value: people who meditate, pray, practice yoga want to reach the same spiritual plateau that some autistics attain naturally by living in silence, focusing on a repetitive movement or a perseverative vocalization (a mantra), and perceiving all things seen and unseen."
Some autistic children, Stillman believes, enjoy a special spiritual connection with animals and dead relatives. He also cites anecdotal evidence in support of the contention that they have connections with angels and that they occasionally show flashes of telepathic and precognitive abilities. For example, the mother of Boone, an autistic five-year-old, "reported that six months prior to the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, her son drew a series of over one hundred clocks. Each clock was set to the time 9:11," stated Athena A. Drewes in the Journal of Parapsychology. "He also drew a ball of fire in the sky over a wooded area, and ‘smoke billowing from tall buildings with many windows.’" "I came to understand that, for those predisposed, these experiences were very common—natural, not supernatural," Stillman told Rudy. "People hundreds of miles apart—who had never before met—were all telling me variations of the same themes. This material formed the basis of my research … but I can also tell you that it's only just the tip of a very large iceberg."
Stillman (who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome) also draws on his own life for inspiration. He "chronicles his experiences growing up with Asperger's," declared Drewes, "and the ensuing social/relational difficulties he encountered that resulted in significant emotional trauma for him. But he also chronicles the successes he has had in spite of his difficulties. He has been able to use his experiences to help others with autism and to consult with professional educators, trying to sensitize them to the needs of those they work with." "His empathic understanding of others with autism and his compassion and caring make this a special book," Drewes concluded. "The reader sees and feels the experiences of the autistic children presented through the eyes of the author and through direct quotes from the children. He gives us an opportunity to better understand autism along with the spiritual/psychic experiences both he and the children encounter."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, Donna Chavez, review of Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness, p. 13.
Journal of Parapsychology, spring, 2006, Athena A. Drewes, review of Autism and the God Connection, p. 185.
Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Corey Seeman, review of Autism and the God Connection, p. 87.
SciTech Book News, June, 2003, review of Demystifying the Autistic Experience: A Humanistic Introduction for Parents, Caregivers, and Educators, p. 118.
About.com,http://autism.about.com/ (October 24, 2007), Lisa Jo Rudy, "Q&A with William Stillman, Author of Autism and the God Connection."
William Stillman Home Page,http://www.williamstillman.com (October 24, 2007), author biography.