Autism

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Autism

Postby ChangYuan » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:28 pm

So, I am dating a woman with 2 teenage girls with Aspergers Syndrome. And their mother wants to know how Buddhism would explain this.
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Re: Autism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:45 pm

That's a loaded question.

In some cases being born with an incomplete or damaged set of faculties is a result of past karma. The body is after all "old karma" while our current actions are "new karma".
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Re: Autism

Postby Josef » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:11 pm

"I dont know" would probably be a good answer.
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Re: Autism

Postby ChangYuan » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:51 pm

Huseng wrote:That's a loaded question.

In some cases being born with an incomplete or damaged set of faculties is a result of past karma. The body is after all "old karma" while our current actions are "new karma".


Well, its not so much a loaded question, as a mother trying to figure out a very difficult circumstance. She sees how her kids, and others in similar situations, have such huge, compassionate hearts; yet their brain just doesn't fire in a typical way, leaving them disabled in a typical world.

Nangwa wrote:"I dont know" would probably be a good answer.


That has pretty well been what I have had to say.
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Re: Autism

Postby LastLegend » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:04 pm

Buddhism teaches that we are responsible for what we think and do. If we look around, we will understand what we think and do is what we are.
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Re: Autism

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:30 pm

I don't know I guess I am confused.

Aspergers syndrom to my limited understanding has as major characteristic a person with a notable lack of empthy for others.
Basically they just cannot account for the feelings of others in a normal manner.
This it seems may lead to a perceived lack of compassion for others.

I don't doubt they are compassionate in their own way and are certainly as deserving as compassion as any other but this''have such huge, compassionate hearts" is not how I would think such a afflicted person displays.

I certainly can't speak for any buddhists I would expect a appropriate response would be, as stated by others...a immediate perceivable result, like a affliction with a malady or disease may not be the result of a immediate cause. A past cause from a latent tendency or habitual inclination formed many lifetimes ago may present at this time due to conditions favorable for their ariseing. The actual particular cause of this tendency to arise at this very moment...unfathomable. To many variables are present to make such a determination.

So ones family friends, even one oneself, by actions, actions thoughts deeds, in this lifetime, are most probably in no manner shape nor form responsible for this present appearence.
The circumstance is ripe for their appearence. Worked through with a lifetime of this...it will not replicate. It will be worked through or out of.
Burned out of the continum. So in a next lifetime it will be more favorable for a normal psyche.
So in a buddhist way I would tell them certainly they are in no way responsible for it. Throw any guilt held far away.

As remedy anything I would expect with exchange for others or anything that works at seeing others as oneself I would expect would work a benefit.
But sometimes peoples don't expect nor particularly want someone to offer a remedy as it is their children and thusly very personal.
A remedy may speak of a inadequacy on their part. So I may not necessarily offer one.

Mostly famlies biggest fault in this is exactly that...they completely wrongly assume some fault of theirs or lacking of theirs caused the disease.That is absolutely not true. A buddhist way would affirm very firmly that be so....they are not guilty of anything. Nor is the person suffering the disease...many liftimes before by a person who no longer exists may be that cause. This person before us is not that person, but a person only who had the tendency to remain in their continum of consciousness presentation.

Reebirth may be described as a candle lighting another candle, not as the candle remaining the same. The candle is never the same. The flame is the same. So the tendency remains for this to present but the individual carrying that is of differing circumstance than that who created the tendency.
So yes....bad things happen to good peoples..this is the nature and fault of samsara, our realm. Not us as individuals caught within its web.
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Re: Autism

Postby kalden yungdrung » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:58 pm

ChangYuan wrote:So, I am dating a woman with 2 teenage girls with Aspergers Syndrome. And their mother wants to know how Buddhism would explain this.



Tashi delek,

Had a brother who did suffer of autism.

We have all kinds of autist persons like: greedy, active, lazy etc.

My brother died 2 years ago at the age of 50 years.
I offered my brother Dharma teachings during his last 2 years on this planet.
He had a whole chest of Dharma books in the Dorje Thekpa tradition and he was very devoted to the Dalai Lama 14.
For him were his books an insurance and a safe feeling. He was very intelligent and thought that he could understand Dharma.

But emptiness wrong understood can have very negative concequences and sure in his case.
So i did teach him emptiness in his wellknown and safe environment, at home.
That had good results because he smiled sometimes when he understood. During his last hours i told him about Sangye Menla used in the Dorje Thekpa tradition because he was wellknown only in Dorje Thekpa. Told him to keep Sangye Menla uninterupted in mind and i have so the feeling that this was helpfull to him.

I hope he has a better reincarnation and i hope so his - karma is now ended, because he suffered mental a lot.
It is frustrating to see people suffering with the understanding that they must empty their plate of karmic soup.

Best wishes
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IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
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Re: Autism

Postby Zenda » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:16 pm

ChangYuan wrote:So, I am dating a woman with 2 teenage girls with Aspergers Syndrome. And their mother wants to know how Buddhism would explain this.


My heart goes out to you all. My son is disabled too (not autism however), and I know how difficult it can be.

What works for me is to see my son's disabilities as being the product of causes and conditions and then just work with as much compassion and wisdom as I can muster, trying to teach him the same. I feel that no matter what the explanation, it won't make his disability go away in this lifetime.

Will be thinking of you all! Be well...
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Re: Autism

Postby Mag761138 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:18 am

Many religions and ideologies are sometimes expressed in ways that do not respect disabled people, Buddhism is sometimes no different. Seeing disability as merely a failure of an individual, and not as a unique set of circumstances that society and other individuals can learn from and utilize, is a grave error and spiritually impoverishing, no matter how much religious language it is cloaked in. In short ,why is it necessary to see things like autism, asperger's, blindness, etc. as automaticly deficiencies that need unique explanations?
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:16 am

My son faces the challenge of autism, so, our whole family does.
I say "faces the challenge" because that is what autism presents...a set of challenges.
There is not a specific "thing" which is autism, it is an accumulation of somewhat 'exaggerated' traits and behaviors, things which have developed unevenly. But otherwise, they are traits and behaviors that everyone has. The difference is that for people with autism, they are disabling, which means that they usually interfere with the person's ability to lead an independent life.

If we look at disabilities, or these challenges as something which separates one set of people from another, then we need to invent reasons. But the separation is also a projection of our mental attitudes. Only 50 years ago, having cancer meant hiding a family secret. people in Wheelchairs were shunned by society. In other words, we think of ourselves as the 'normal' group and others as the 'abnormal' group. But this has changed somewhat. We don't have to feel pity for a blind person, or think "oh how sad" just because we see somebody in a wheelchair. At least not in some countries. But some disabilities are not immediately visible, and those are frightening because we don't understand them, and that is simply due to ignorance.

And while in one sense, we can say that humans generally follow a fairly typical developmental trend (while others do not), we have to also realize that there is not always a clear cut, definite line of separation. Many times there are, but otherwise, the person is very much the same as "us". If you tap a pencil while you read, or play with the lint in your pocket, or have some strange little 'rules' about how you do certain things, or feel really shy around people you don't know, you also have the same brain activity as someone who, if they have it severely, might be diagnosed with autism. But you are 'normal' and they are not.

So, I think that perhaps the need for a reason is based on a sort of "wrong view" to begin with. We need these sort of excuses..karma or whatever, not so much because the person in question needs one, but because we "normal' people need one, which in effect makes it not all that much different from a wheelchair ramp or a white cane or a mechanical arm, because seeing others as being so different as to need a "reason" to lean on is our disability.

Autism is referred to as a 'spectrum disorder' , meaning that people with that diagnosis are all over the map. Some cannot speak or remember things, others are in college. But being 'normal' also runs a spectrum of behaviors, and I am not really sure I know anyone who is what i would call "typical". My son likes Harry Potter, ice cream, playing basketball, and many other things that typically developing kids enjoy. But there is no 'normal' spectrum by which he is measured.

Whenever I hear people basically blaming disabilities on karma, or sin, or some other mysterious cause, I have to ask, "blaming for what?" What is the cause for the "Us-And-Them" mentality? Nobody ever asks about that one.
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Re: Autism

Postby daelm » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:18 pm

ronnewmexico wrote: Aspergers syndrom to my limited understanding has as major characteristic a person with a notable lack of empathy for others.
Basically they just cannot account for the feelings of others in a normal manner. This it seems may lead to a perceived lack of compassion for others.

I don't doubt they are compassionate in their own way and are certainly as deserving as compassion as any other but this''have such huge, compassionate hearts" is not how I would think such a afflicted person displays.


i have high functioning autism (asperger's is being merged into this diagnosis). here's something you should read, if you'd like to have more up-to-date views in the matters you're raising.

http://thinkingautismguide.blogspot.com ... pathy.html

d

p.s. i partly support elderly parents, helped raise my younger sister when my father's alcoholism bankrupted the family, and was involved in ad hoc relief efforts for survivors of xenophobia attacks. i sponsor a soup kitchen, one that i used to work in myself, am currently involved in trying to implement a vagrancy relief programme and have worked for non-government organizations focused on children's welfare. three years ago, i undertook a year-long mentorship programme that paired me with a child orphaned by HIV, for a calendar year. (he moved into his first independent house early this year.) in early 2002, i provided emergency first aid to shooting victims at the company where i worked - one died in my arms, the other was kept alive long enough to be brought into ICU. in the same year, i helped the cleaning lady in my office - a friend of mine - to get her eldest child through school, by tutoring her in english. it's been an interesting life so far - obviously, i don't think you're correct in what you say :)

i should also note, for the sake of accuracy and balance that, like most people, i also do a lot of less admirable and unsavoury things :emb: :lol: . however, none of the unsavory things contributes much towards challenging ron's assumption about autistic people, namely that we are specifically (and falsely) excluded from a commonly felt emotion.


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Re: Autism

Postby seaborn » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:53 am

Lack of empathy....

Please look more closely.

Think of a blind person. Could you say that they are incapable of reading and experiencing all the benefits that reading offers? Of course not, at first they were dependent on others reading to them and then Braille was invented, bringing independence. Now children are taught early so they do not miss out on this vital development.

My 15 yr old son is on the spectrum and this is his experience. He has difficulty reading social situations, picking up on the subtle social cues that most of us do all the time without effort or thought.

This is a different type of blindness.

Does he lack empathy or any other feeling most of us are capable of? Of course not, but the type of Braille he needs to independently read the social world has not yet been invented, therefore, he is dependent on the compassionate and honest communication of the people around him. When a situation is explained to him, he responds in very normal ways. If anything, I believe he is more empathetic and justice minded than many because he experiences firsthand and deeply how lack of understanding can hurt and still he remains one if the kindest hearted people I know.

How can Buddhism explain Autism? I don’t know enough about Buddhism or karma to hazard a guess but from personal experience I know with confidence that my son is a great teacher of compassion.
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:19 pm

seaborn wrote:How can Buddhism explain Autism? I don’t know enough about Buddhism or karma to hazard a guess but from personal experience I know with confidence that my son is a great teacher of compassion.


My son has autism too.
Actually, i prefer to say that he faces the challenge of autism,
and that as a family we face the challenges that autism presents to us.
I never say he "is autistic". That would imply a self. I say he has autism, or he has autistic behaviors.
But the purpose of The dharma isn't to explain autism.
If you study and practice dharma this will help to develop the wisdom and compassion in how you deal with autism.

For example, some parents, when their child is born, put up all kinds of expectations and grand dreams. "my son will be a doctor" or whatever. This is just a projection of their own clinging. Then, when they find out that their child has a disability. they go all to pieces about it, not because they are thinking about what their child may accomplish, but because they are dwelling on what the child will not accomplish. They are sad because their own dreams are shattered.

And of course, there is all kinds of stress. So, either you learn to flow with it, take it and let it go, or you engage in a never ending battle with it. So, meditation can be very helpful here.

People forget that "typical development" also has a spectrum. But because being 'normal' isn't disabling, people don't think of it that way. my son likes ice cream, harry Potter, Super Marion Bros. and all sorts of "normal' things too. So, kids with autism are on the autism spectrum, but they are also on the typical spectrum. It's just that one spectrum dominates the other. So, we always hold "typical" as our standard. If his behavior isn't typical, we redirect it. but we also remember that he faces a lot of challenges. A parent has to see that their kid lives in both worlds. Empathy, which is related to compassion, is generally not thought to be a strong trait among people with autism. But we are learning so much more about this disability, that this observation may change. When our dog died, we were happy to see that our son was saddened by it, because being sad when your pet dies is normal. That's kind of strange, to be happy when somebody becomes sad! But for a parent of a child with autism, maybe not so strange. From a buddhist perspective, maybe not really so strange at all.

I asked my teacher recently about when people say "a disability in this life is the result of some negative karma from a past life". I said that "in some cultures, being born female was considered a misfortune, let alone having a disability, so isn't this a rather subjective way of seeing things?" I have always regarded that idea as total yak dung (bullsh**)

He said that people misunderstand. Karma isn't some predestined fate. it isn't your situation...being disabled, or whatever that is dictated by karma--it's how you are able to deal with your situation that is the result of your previous actions (actions meaning the actions of thought).
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Re: Autism

Postby Willy » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:15 pm

My experience with an autistic student (I teach painting):

Last summer I taught a student that has autism and was impressed how this student could jump into his paintings with vigor, intelligence and bypass some of the hesitancies of his classmates. Despite this young man’s inability to describe his work, everyone in the class was jealous of him.

He was very good at "listening to his muses". Which can be described as being in touch with his "wants" rather than his "shoulds".

I was very impressed. Someone in an earlier post mentioned blind people being able to read with braille. I agree that if we can provide the right support and environment, people with autism can have a full and productive life. Buddhist explanation of how people came to be in their current body, is not a prison sentence or judgement.
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Re: Autism

Postby seaborn » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:02 pm

Dear PadmaVonSamba,

Thank you for your insight.

I’d like to ask about a part that has often gripped my heart. Thinking about what a child may accomplish and thinking about a parent trying to provide what is needed to optimize a child opportunity to discover their true potential, what if this is what causes a parent to go to pieces, at times. How does a parent ever know if they are doing a proper job of it? This too is an impossible situation. Impossible to know future potential for sure and impossible to know for sure if you are doing what needs to be done yet there are big stakes for the child. Again the parent stumbles and engages in the never ending battle.

So again, back to the wiser choice you offer, learn to flow with it, take it and let it go. Meditation looks like a wise and beneficial place to go to cultivate this strength. (I’m learning)

My question now is, how does hope fit in. (Is this new or am I running in circles?)

Is there a beneficial kind of hope or is it just another form of grasping that leads back to the battle. If there is a beneficial kind of hope then how do you monitor it within yourself? Where does it cross the boundary into detrimental grasping?
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:29 pm

I don't think any parent knows what the future has in store for their kid, and a good parent probably always thinks they have failed somehow. What is scarey for me is knowing that my son will always need some type of supervision, even from a distance, and someday I won't be there. A typical kid will someday fly on his own or her own, but my son will always need somebody else there...in order to be independent.

Autism is such an up and down thing. My son is a great cook, but won't talk on the phone. So what happens if there is a fire? These are the kinds of things that ought to cause me to 'go to pieces' as you say. I probably don't because of 90% dharma practice and 10% denial (good ol' denial---always there when you need it!)

As far as hope goes, I hope a medical cure is discovered for what causes my son's autism. So, you know, I always hope for the best, but I try to prepare for the worst. I hope I am doing everything I can, but I know I am probably not, but I am not going to beat myself over the head for not being perfect. There are people and agencies and groups that help special-needs kids to transition into adult life with as much independence as possible. It takes some research and work finding these opportunities in your community, if there are any. It's hard. It is really hard sometimes. there is no doubt about that.

There is a story about a mother who comes crying to the Buddha because her child is dead and she wants him to bring it back to life. So, he tells her to first go and fetch some mustard seeds from a house where death has never occurred. So, she goes to every house in the village desperate in her search but she can't find such a house. Then she realizes that death happens and there is nothing you can do about it. This story came to mind once when I thought about everybody I knew, and how everybody's family had some kind of situation that I was glad our family didn't have.

I try to build on my child's strengths, work on the areas where he needs help, and listen and love. When you think about it, every child has special needs. And this is probably - no, definitely the best time in all of history to have a diagnosis of autism. There is so much more known about it than there was even 10 years ago.
My son even started to do breathing (awareness) meditating...for almost a minute at a time!
But we work on it a little more each day, which is what dharma practice is about.

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Re: Autism

Postby seaborn » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:08 pm

Dear PadmaVonSamba

Thank you for visiting this tender place with me.
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:54 am

seaborn wrote:Dear PadmaVonSamba
Thank you for visiting this tender place with me.

Thank you for bringing the issue to this forum.
Writing it out helps me to think it out & work it out.

I think that the biggest help Dharma has (and I alluded to this before) is that with Buddhism, one learns to let go of "expectations". Not everything (I mean, I expect the light to go on in the fridge), but the expectations we put on ourselves and especially onto other people.

Because either you are dealing with another person for who they really are, in the present moment,
or you are dealing with some imaginary fantasy about who they are or will be in the future.
I think that when it comes to knowing which deal to choose, a lot of people choose the wrong one.
This certainly happens in relationships.

So, we are doing two things at once.
You might say it is somewhat like ultimate truth and relative truth...sort of.
We work with our kids as though they are typical, and place as many demands on them as we would a typical kid.
That is the relative truth.
For example, we have a "no stimming" policy.
(You probably know that term but to someone reading this post who doesn't, it refers to self-stimulatory behavior, such as hand flapping or repeating a noise or word phrase over and over again, any type of excessively repeated erratic behavior).

So, our standard is "would a typical kid his age be doing that?" and if the answer is no, then we redirect his behavior. Actually, he has learned to control a lot of it himself. Eventually the brain rewires itself and he doesn't do certain things any more.

At the same time, we are completely aware that this is a real challenge for him. That is the ultimate truth. We know we are dealing with somebody who faces a lot of challenges, who has a disability, and who is going to need help doing something 100,000 times before he does it on his own (reminds me of Vajrayana ngondro practice).

Imaginary expectations get in the way of seeing who a person really is. When you can see who they really are, you can benefit them much more. Of course, some kids are really severely disabled, and it is really hard for parents not to be devastated (not to mention feeling sleep deprived, broke, and feeling isolated!).

I just remembered, I think there is a website somewhere for Buddhist parents of kids with autism. Unfortunately, a lot of times people who are on so-called 'spiritual paths' fall for some rather shady "treatments". But I will tell you something interesting, because a lama who is both my friend & teacher did a ceremony, a "blessing", to help my son. But I am a very skeptical and science -based person. So I asked him how anything like this can help. I don't believe in faith-healing.

The interesting thing is that there were three parts to the ceremony. And none of them had to do with "curing" him. They all had to do with removing obstacles to his treatment and cure. To me, this is somewhat different, because I support scientific research, and this wasn't set up to replace that--rather, to remove obstacles.
That is something I can go along with!
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Autism

Postby seaborn » Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:46 pm

It’s a bit embarrassing but I’ve already done the controversial spiritual path with a lay Buddhist group. (I’m unsure if Buddhist is a fair description because what I learned there is very different from what I am learning now) Cutting myself a bit of slack though, I was recruited at a particularly vulnerable time.

My son had just gone from having his best year ever at school to a child dropping into a deepest kind of depression, which triggered a parent’s gravest fear. He refused to go to school, hiding in the closet at times and developing immovable legs each school morning. I pulled him out of the school half way through the year and it took many months of our tender care and professional therapy for him to recover. All inquiries at the school were met with tightly closed lips but I learned the truth a year later when another parent called me. Her son had just tearfully recounted witnessing my sons daily ridicule and public humiliation from his teacher the year before and was now experiencing this very same treatment himself.

Imagine my feelings of complete incompetence in protecting my son. He was suffering this abuse daily and was incapable of communicating what was happening to him. He was incapable of accessing help even from his own parent.

I spent over two years with this lay Buddhist group even though, looking back, there were many red flags. I think they became a bit fed up with me and my polite refusal to say things I could not genuinely support. It came to a decision point when I felt my very presence offered support to the mistreatment of another member. My verbal efforts to intervene had only redirected this same treatment onto myself. This is when I went on a google hunt and learned that what I experienced at the introduction to this group is a well researched and proven strategy used by cults for conversion. It’s called love bombing. Reading down the list of other persuasion techniques used by cults, tears started flowing, cleansing kind of tears. The tensions started melting out of my body as I started to understand more and more the truth of what was happening. Further google searches brought me here to this forum and I will be forever grateful for the advice I have received here.
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:28 pm

I personally would be interested in knowing (private message) the group you are referring to, although there are a couple that come to mind.

This is a tragic story about your son. You might have a case against the school, or school board, but I don't know. I am not a lawyer and every place is different. Just sayin'. What if he had been teased, or abused, for being in a wheelchair? People do not recognize a disability when it isn't visible (which, when you think of it, is their disability!).

My son did great up through 5th grade in a regular school but in the 6th grade he wouldn't talk, and the teacher, while not mean toward our son, was just a lousy teacher. Just a total goof off. Nobody in the class was learning anything. Finally enough parents complained and I think they fired him (this was after we left. So I don't know. Our son has been home schooled at his own pace since then).

Unfortunately, just because somebody calls themselves this or that (buddhist or whatever) is no guarantee of anything. I think that people, in many ways, "are what they are" meaning that they follow habitual desires...power trips, mind games, and so on and it doesn't matter if it's through politics or religion or where they work (or teach). It's the various activities in life that provide us with the opportunities to basically act out those behaviors. We can consciously change who we are of course, and that's what a lot of dharma practice is about. Everything is always changing, and I would imagine that with an improvement in your son's learning environment, the unpleasant memories will not play too great of a role.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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