Autism and Buddhist practice: Call for submissions from BIPOC/BAME communitiesOn Thu, 24 June, 2021 - 16:18
Dr Chris Jarrell, a UK-based retired social work lecturer and counsellor, is asking for submissions from members of our BIPOC/BAME communities to input into his research on how Buddhism can help autistic people improve their wellbeing.
Chris, who is autistic and a practicing Buddhist, is in the process of editing a book of personal accounts of autistic people and their experiences of Buddhist practice, which will be published in 2022. He is hoping to get input from BIPOC/BAME Buddhists who think they might be autistic, who self-identify as being autistic or have a diagnosis of autism.
For information on autism see the National Autistic Society’s ‘What is Autism?’ guide.
His hope for the book is that when other autistic people read these stories, they will be inspired to follow the contributors’ examples and explore Buddhism as a spiritual path to improved wellbeing. It may also inform and motivate Dharma teachers, centre directors, and group leaders to take some time out to consider how they can develop ‘autism sensitive practice’.
“I first came to Buddhism in the early 1990s when I attended an Order of Interbeing retreat in Scotland… It was then that I learned about mindfulness and its application to everyday life. I had always been an anxious personality, a loner and felt very different to other people. The silence of the retreat, the routine of each day and the lack of small-talk suited me well. When I returned home to Yorkshire, mindfulness began to help me manage my anxiety. I had learned to be mindful of my body, feelings and mind. But as I became older, I was increasingly getting more anxious with social interactions and relationships, both at home and at work, and beginning to suffer with periods of depression.
It was not until 30 years later, at the age of 65, that I was diagnosed with autism and I began to understand my life very differently. Since being on that first retreat, I have deepened my understanding of the Buddha’s teachings and associated practices. Meditation and mindfulness have become a regular practice for me. My chosen spiritual path helps me to understand what often seems like a confusing and overwhelming emotional and social landscape.”
Making a submission
Chris is looking for submissions specifically from members of our BIPOC/BAME communities. You don’t have to be a writer to submit a piece, you just need to enjoy writing and be able to take constructive feedback.
Submissions do not have to be autobiographies or Dharma essays, but reflective, personal accounts, written in the first person, of how your everyday experience of integrating the Buddha’s teachings and practices into your life helps you as an autistic person.
Some questions to consider in your submission would be:
*What problems do you have as an autistic person?
*How have you worked through these problems with the support of the Three Jewels?
*Which of the Buddha’s teachings and practices have particularly helped?
*Have you had any difficulties accessing the Dharma and Sangha?
*How have you overcome these?
If you are interested in participating, want to know more about the submission guidelines or would like to have a Zoom chat about what you might write about, please get in touch with Chris at chris [at] jarrell.karoo.co.uk.