Autism and the Paranormal

by Brent Raynes

Recently I received a very interesting email from one Charyl Miller Pingleton of Ohio. She wrote:

I am doing research on paranormal and divine experiences that occur in relation to those with autism. I hope to gain enough research and first-hand stories to publish a book on the subject. I am trying to put the word out to as many paranormal groups/sites as I can to gain information and to receive contact from families willing to share their experiences. The names of the families/disabled persons will be changed to protect their privacy.

I have been deeply fascinated with the paranormal since childhood and have had various paranormal experiences. Spirituality has been a topic of interest for me for several years, as I have also had encounters that could be considered mystical/divine. In addition, I have two published spiritual novels to my name and run a blog called "Uncommon Review" that features reviews of non-traditional and self-published books. I recently met the cast of 'Paranormal State' and it was one of their shows, in combination with experiences from my own children, that sparked the idea of combining a book on these two popular interests (autism and the paranormal).

As for special needs, I have one child who is autistic with severe speech delays, and a second who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (mild form of autism). I have been living with some form of autism for 11 years now and know what it is like to have special needs children. Any family that shares their story can be assured they will not be judged or exploited. For more personal information visit:

If you would like to share a story/information on this topic, or would like to mention or feature my book project in an article (specifically a request for personal experiences from your readers) please reply or e-mail me at:

Thank you and God bless!

Charyl Miller Pingleton-

I believe that Charyl may be onto something quite potentially significant here. I’ve been noticing myself that others recently have been making a connection between autism and the paranormal. In recent contact with Alice Kelley, Research Assistant with the Alex Tanous Foundation for Scientific Research in Portland, Maine, on the subject of whether she had ever had any psychic experiences personally (she is a niece of the famous psychic for which the foundation is named) she remarked: “Oh, I have many! I think it is more knowing that something will happen or thinking about a person and then seeing them. I do believe that my son (16) certainly has some. He has very high functioning autism and I do believe these kids have that gift but do not know how to use it. I also believe that something neurological is present in folks who display this.” In addition, in notices that I receive from the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina I noticed where Athena Drewes, PhD, a New York child psychologist, was delivering a lecture there back on April 24th entitled “Understanding the Psychic Experiences of Childhood,” and the notice about her talk included the mention of autism.

Charyl, upon my request, included some details of her own personal experiences with her autistic child that she believes may have been of a paranormal nature. She shared the following:

My events are pretty minor compared to some I've heard, but here they are:

1. This first story took place sometime in 2003. We had moved to a small town in the Rockies in Wyoming called Pinedale, as my husband was stationed at an Air Force detachment nearby. My daughter at the time was about 4 years old. Being autistic, she had no viable speech and sometimes could throw loud physical tantrums. Her emotions were raw with no in-between. Either she was happy and calm or upset and loud.

The house we were given to live in was rented by the military and was built in the 30's (one of the first in town). From the first time I walked in, I could feel something staring at me. It wasn't malicious, but it was unsettling. After we had been in the house for a little bit, the feeling subsided to only occasionally feeling something unseen present. It was almost as if something was just visiting the house to check up on things. I also experienced some minor sounds a couple of times, such as footsteps in the attic when I was home alone. I noticed a person's name scrawled on the wall in the basement and decided to do some research and find out who had lived there before us. It turned out to be a large family who lived in our small house. From all accounts, this family was very happy and close-knit. I found their family plot in the local cemetery where both parents and every single deceased sibling (even the married ones that lived in other states upon death) were buried together. I had a feeling the occasional visitations in the house were from this family. I even had a living (elderly) family member show up in front of my house and upon asking if I could help him, he only said, "just remembering."

Now where my daughter enters the picture: My kids had separate rooms in a converted attic. My daughter rarely had problems going to bed and staying there. But just minutes after I put her to bed one evening, she began screaming bloody murder upstairs. I ran up to find her terrified. Normally, screaming by my daughter means she is angry; but this seemed different. I bent down over her to attempt calming her down. Usually, my daughter is a bit better than most autistics at being able to make eye contact. However, that night it was as if she was looking right past me into the darkness. I could feel something behind me. I've always had an intuitive ability, though I would say I'm definitely NOT psychic. An image of a grandmotherly old lady came into my head and I sensed feelings of concern. I knew that this was the matriarch of the family that used to live in the house. I felt she had noticed my daughter's problems and, like a grandmother, was checking up on her. Unfortunately, this only served to terrify my daughter--seeing a strange woman in the house hovering over her in the dark. Because she could not tell me what was wrong, the only way she could relay her fear was screaming and thrashing.

Finally, out of desperation, I turned around and yelled, "I know you're just trying to help, but please leave her alone! You're scaring her!" Within minutes, my daughter had calmed down and was starting to fall asleep. She has been upset off and on at night in her life, but always for a definable reason. The incident that I described never happened before and hasn't happened again (by the way, being in the military, we've lived in a few different places since).

2. This second incident happened a few months ago here in Ohio where we currently reside (my daughter is 9 now). There is a short stretch of highway linking our part of Dayton to a little town called Xenia. Every time I drive this highway, there is a sense of foreboding and uneasiness that even my husband feels. I'm not sure exactly what has happened in this area. Maybe it has something to do with the tornado that destroyed this town in the 60's (or possibly past car wrecks or Native American influences)--but there is something just not right with this stretch of road.

We were driving on this road to eat at a restaurant in Xenia early one evening. It was light out and traffic was normal. My husband was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and the kids were buckled in the back. We had made sure to go over the fact that we were going out to eat--so there would be no surprises to my daughter. She seemed happy about this. Everything was like normal in the car (no loud music, no annoying sounds or objects, no arguing, etc.). Suddenly, I hear sobbing from the backseat and turn to see my daughter quietly crying with big tears rolling down her cheeks, and like I said before, with most severely autistic people, there is no in-between in emotion. If my daughter was upset in any manner, her tears would be accompanied by screaming and hitting. Never before has she been capable of quietly crying. I was stunned and started talking to her soothingly, asking her what's wrong/what does she feel/did she hurt herself (not really expecting an answer). Amazingly, she puts her hands on her face and says, "I feel sad." Of course, we couldn't get out of her why and within a few minutes, it passed and she was happy once again. I have a feeling she saw something or sensed something energetically-imprinted on this highway, the same thing I had been sensing on this road.

There have been other incidents where she seems to be "talking" to or interacting with something. However, it is difficult to tell if it is paranormal or just typical for a child with autism. These are things that cannot be proven scientifically and like I said before, they are not major incidents; but they are interesting and add to the whole. I've heard from several people who have said that their teen/adult son or daughter with autism is recovering from a childhood filled with seeing shadow people and the like. On the more positive side, I was even told of a teen girl with autism (now grown) who was given speech overnight after what she says was a visit from Christ.