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The Mountain Astrologer

Holding a Lighted Candle - The Pluto in Sagittarius Generation Makes Its Mark on Autism Research

by Raye Robertson

headThis study revisits and builds upon an earlier published work of mine regarding an astrological perspective on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the sensory processing disorder (SPD) often associated with autism.1 Amazing progress has been made during the past decade in these distinct but interrelated fields: Public and private support organizations have mobilized a diverse army of professionals to tackle this growing public health phenomenon. This "army" includes leading neurologists, geneticists, specialized mental health and education practitioners, IT engineers and software developers, and therapists in a range of disciplines. Autism touches nearly every walk of life, it seems, at the same time that it touches ever more lives. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on the issue (based on 2010 data gathered from approximately 5,300 eight-year-olds born in 2002) states that "about 1 in 68 [U.S.] children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder ..."2 This prevalence number climbed steadily between 2000 and 2008, from 1 in 150, to 1 in 125, to 1 in 110, to 1 in 88; then, in the latest 2010 study, the numbers took that 30% leap to 1 in 68.

My 2006 article, titled "In Synch & Out-of-Synch: Pluto in Sagittarius Children and an Astrological Perspective on the Senses,"3 used the 1995 Pluto in Sagittarius ingress (shown in the Chart)4 to examine the rising phenomenon of ASD in that generation (a segment of the Millennial Generation born between early 1995 and November 2008),5 and to offer an astrological perspective. It now seems important, as this Pluto generation (hereafter referred to as "Gen Sag") gradually comes of age, to revisit and update that work — happily, with the input of teenage Gen Sags with ASD6 who have made their stories public both in book form and online in social media. Interestingly, these young adults — with the help of incredibly dedicated parents and professionals — have broken through the barriers of nonverbal autism (long considered to be on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum) to pursue much fuller, more connected lives and to communicate and advocate for themselves. From their progress, we are learning that many of these individuals possess normal, even stellar intelligence, albeit trapped inside uncooperative physical/sensory systems. Many are succeeding in mainstream education programs and are sharing their stories in eloquent, self-aware terms. Consequently, autism experts have been forced to reconsider many deeply rooted notions about the true limits imposed by autism.

But first, an important disclaimer: A Pluto ingress chart reflects global collective, evolutionary trends, but does not supersede an individual’s own nativity or represent fated inevitabilities within that generation. The Pluto in Sagittarius generation is most emphatically not defined by the climb in autism statistics. Although a comprehensive generational analysis is beyond the scope of this article (only the oldest among them have been studied by demographers at this point), the Gen Sags are coming of age quite publicly (especially in social media) as a generation at ease in a globalized, technology-driven world. They are so-called digital natives, and impressions left by their social and environmental activities thus far indicate that they are deeply sensitive, ethical, yet pragmatic problem-solvers — traits easily seen in the tight conjunction of the Sun, Uranus, and Neptune in Capricorn, which is closely opposed by a dignified Cancer Moon. (See Chart.)

chart These natives are also known for taking an expansive view on cultural, personal, and social values, being less concerned with institutions and more concerned with networking and social justice. The current outpouring of support among young adults for victims of police abuse in the United States and for democratic rights in Hong Kong speaks to this and probably to future movements here and abroad. Coupled with their unapologetic quest for upbeat, adventurous life experiences, the Gen Sags clearly resonate with the Sagittarius cluster of Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus spanning their 1st and 2nd houses. Perhaps with Pluto in their 1st house of identity, their metaphorical mark on the world is made with each selfie they snap.

It is, in fact, worth considering the core significance of the selfie — this generational urge to stay connected with self as a means of connecting with others. Could it be that the simple act of recording their existence and activities several times a day serves the deeper existential purpose of staying centered, staying "in touch," and, hence, feeling more secure: "If I can see myself, I can be myself"? Of course, gaining approval with a "like" on Facebook is key to completing the self–other circuit. As we’ll see, this simple self–other communication dynamic, which the great majority of Gen Sags often take completely for granted, can manifest in extremely challenging ways.

"... on my desert island with no raft ..."

Autism and its sensory processing challenges have been experienced in every generation, so why focus on this particular group? Because it seems that both the incidence of ASD and the public/private response to it have been reaching a critical mass that makes this generation an important evolutionary threshold. As noted, considerable progress in both autism research and resources has been made since 1995, and thankfully, children born with autism in the current Pluto in Capricorn generation can benefit from their older peers’ breakthroughs. We might question, however, whether this would have happened without thousands of parents and caregivers of Pluto in Sagittarius children applying pressure, desperate for answers.

desert
islandIn his amazing 2012 memoir, Ido in Autismland, 18-year-old Ido Kedar (born in May 1996) writes about the so-called autism experts: "I think I can imagine their theories and how they reached their insights better than they can imagine smart, intact people trapped in a non-responsive body ... I’d still be on my desert island with no raft if no one had given me communication, or exercise, or respect. I am living proof that communication is the key."7 At the age of seven, with the help of a perceptive mother who sensed that his intelligence and ability were simply masked by his low-functioning exterior, Ido broke through into communicating via typing and pointing to letters on a board. Amazingly, he had taught himself to read and spell by that time, even though his special education teachers confined his studies to preschool-level instruction. After he began using a letter board and found a home-based teacher who took his intelligence seriously, some of these "experts" still refused to believe in his progress. As his mother relates, "They rejected it as impossible. They were not open to a new possibility, or as Ido says, they were ‘blinded by their professional biases.’" Since this time, many Gen Sags with ASD have made similar breakthroughs.

In Carly’s Voice,8 we read a deeply self-aware account of challenges and breakthroughs from 19-year-old Carly Fleischmann, born with her "neurotypical" twin sister just days after Pluto entered Sagittarius in January 1995. A similar major breakthrough in communication came for her when she learned to use voice output devices and a laptop. These two and several other written accounts by "low-functioning" autistic Gen Sags reflect the intense struggles these people encounter in controlling and coordinating their sensory systems, minds, and bodies; as we’ll see, the generational chart reflects those challenges and provides helpful direction.

This analysis of the Pluto in Sagittarius ingress chart will employ the basic astrological correlations found in the Table, which rely heavily on the work of medical astrologer Jane Ridder-Patrick.9 Her book was updated in 2006 and contains more about developmental and neurological issues like autism.

Planetary Correlations Used in This Study

(in keeping with Ridder-Patrick’s 2006 medical astrology handbook—see Note 9)

Planet/Point

Rules

Sun

Being (sense of Self), consciousness, vitality (body heat), vision (integrative function), heart function, cell nuclei (DNA, hence genetic conditions and congenital disorders); right eye of man/ left eye of woman

Moon

Bodily sensations and cycles, emotional arousal, fluids and hormones, limbic system (including hypothalamus and hippocampus), fertility/reproduction, circadian rhythms, instinctive reflexes, stomach/small intestine, right eye of woman/left eye of man

Mercury

Nervous systems (central, autonomic, enteric, sensory receptors), respiration, auditory sense (nervous system component), verbal skills, fine motor dexterity/coordination, mental faculties (ability to extract info from the environment and act on it), “concrete” perception

Venus

Sense of balance (vestibular system), homeostasis, sex hormones/feedback mechanisms

Mars

Muscle systems and movement coordination through space (proprioceptive sense); impulse control; immune system, inflammatory response, adrenal function, arousal

Jupiter

Cerebrum (left hemisphere), integrative brain function, abstract and motor reasoning (hence, cognitive and motor disorders); belief/ideological system; arterial system, liver, hypothalamus

Saturn

Skin (and tactile sense, w/Mercury), skeletal system, teeth, auditory sense (bony aspect and regulation), vestibular sense (gravity/regulation), developmental timelines

Uranus

Rhythmic pulsation, bodily systems coordination, electrical system, corpus callosum/cross-hemispheric thinking

Neptune

Intuition, mental visualization and illusion (hence, “stimming”), right-brain processing, permeability, allergies/autoimmune and fungal diseases, addictions, spiritual/psychic insight

Pluto

Waste/elimination system, toxicity, primitive “reptilian” brain/amygdala, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, “fight or flight” response

Ascendant

Interaction w/environment, “electric” inflow of vital energy

Midheaven

Highest aspirations, motor nerve centers, brain cortex (our “crown”)/consciousness of self

Pluto’s Grand Sagittarian Entrance

lighted candleIn the dead of winter on January 17, 1995, Pluto traded its comfortable Scorpionic swamp boat for a grand Sagittarian chariot of fire, and so crashed the royal party of its more cheerful colleague, Jupiter. Cast for Greenwich, England, the chart appears fit for a royal or at least an individual (in this case, a whole global generation) of great potential. Scorpio rises (how appropriate for Pluto’s welcome) at 4°, the Sabian symbol being "A youth holding a lighted candle"10 — significant for a generation of youth who are seeking to reveal their inner light in the greater world.

Two powerful stellia of three bodies each dominate the first quadrant of this chart: Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus lie across the 2nd-house cusp, spanning 0°–9°38’ Sagittarius, and Neptune, Uranus, and the Sun are clustered uncomfortably close in the 3rd house at 23°10’–26°27’ Capricorn. Uranus is cazimi (in the heart of) the Sun, empowered by its mere 3 arc minutes of separation. As impressive as these powerful first-quadrant gatherings seem at first glance, they foreshadowed both great potential and great challenge for the generation of children they welcomed. The aspect dynamics formed by both groupings radiate their influence throughout the chart.

Input and Output

Let’s begin where the Gen Sag group took its first breath, at the chart’s Scorpio Ascendant. Ridder-Patrick and others she cites consider the Ascendant the native’s interface with the surrounding environment, the point that shows "how patients perceive and receive their ‘diet,’ ... anything and everything that was taken in, and included not only food and drink, but air, thoughts, emotions, and atmospheres."11 Sensory input is a key part of that diet, and coping with, and regulating, sensory input of all types is a constant issue with ASD. This challenge produces many typical autistic behaviors, such as avoiding eye contact, withdrawal, and "stimming" (self-stimulatory behaviors like hand-flapping and head-banging that we now know help to manage sensory overload). As Carly puts it, "Stims are when we focus on sensory output to block out sensory input."12

Tactics for filtering all types of overwhelming sensory input — as in being able to focus on a teacher speaking while the environment is flooded with sensory distractions that demand equal attention — are also indicated by the Ascendant, here in the water sign of Scorpio. Ridder-Patrick points out that water signs are "self-protective," so a Scorpio Ascendant makes for guarded interaction with others and that critical diet. Scorpio fits autism’s intense inward focus quite well — autistic children often seem lost or submerged in an inaccessible world, but given the overwhelming nature of their sensory lives, Scorpio’s protection may be necessary. With time, effort, and therapy, the individual can develop appropriate filtering skills and gradually learn to navigate his or her chaotic sensory world. We’ll see more on this as we address individual aspects and consider actual experiences.

raysGiven the challenges of ASD, it’s no surprise that the generational chart’s co-rulers, Mars (1°+ Virgo) and Pluto (0° Sagittarius), fall square and that both are amplified by their respective contacts with Jupiter (7°+ Sag): Mars by square, Pluto by conjunction. Mars also opposes Saturn (9° Pisces), which turns the Mars, Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn contact into a mutable t-square. With a somewhat generous orb of 9 full degrees from Pluto, Venus in Sagittarius adds her fiery clout to the t-square, and the Venus–Jupiter conjunction tightly squares Saturn. This t-square poses a host of complex challenges, based on the medical astrological correlations we’re using in the Table.

A mutable t-square, according to Bil Tierney, is "taxing to the nervous system (often due to over-stimulation), as well as disruptive to thought processes."13 The specific neurological players involved in this tough t-square are: the "ancient" brain structure, the amygdala (Pluto), which stimulates deep anxiety and possible panic, triggering the "fight or flight" response; the cerebrum, regulating left-brain reasoning and integrative brain function (Jupiter); and the vestibular sense, governing our sense of balance (Venus and Saturn). These functions square the Mars–Saturn opposition, producing tension with both the proprioceptive sense (an inner sense of how our bodies are positioned in space) and impulse control (both associated with Mars), and the tactile and auditory senses (Saturn, with input from Mercury for hearing — Mercury’s role is explained below). With four squares and a potent opposition, this t-square is already challenging enough, but when signs and rulership networks are factored in, very complex sensory processing issues are revealed. We can also see why gut problems, celiac disease, colitis, and other inflammation-based ills are prevalent in those with ASD, and although sensory and immune system issues do not necessarily coexist, this chart may explain why, at times, they do.14

The Mars–Saturn aspect in particular suggests how this complex neural/immune system relationship functions. Virginia Breen writes about her daughter Elizabeth’s case: "Another common trait associated with autism is an overly active immune system that never shuts down, not even when its job of fighting off a cold or flu is done. It is always hyped up in full fighting mode, so much so that the immune system begins attacking itself, causing inflammation from the intestines to the brain."15, 16 The keywords for Virgo Mars opposite Pisces Saturn say it all: "Fire in the gut" seeking a "cool-down in water." Pisces, of course, draws Neptune’s rulership of the immune system into the picture.

Breen also cites medical experts who think that the more "odd autistic behaviors" are caused by this internal heat, and it seems that Carly agrees. "You don’t know what it feels like when you can’t sit still because your legs feel like they are on fire," she says, "or it feels like a hundred ants are crawling up your arms."17 Not surprisingly, many sensory-challenged individuals find being in the water soothing — the therapeutic upside of Neptune.

nerves Ridder-Patrick points to a role for Jupiter and Neptune in these neural/immune system issues: "... damage to the left side of the cerebral cortex (Jupiter) depressed the immune system. Right brain (Neptune) damage, on the other hand, caused increased activity in the white blood cells, which play a major role in the body’s defense system."18 As the co-ruler of Pisces, Jupiter’s square to Saturn may compromise Jupiter’s protective (cerebral) role, as well as stimulating Neptunian excesses with white blood cell production. The fiery character of this problem could reflect not just the hard aspects, but also the sign placements of the "heavies" involved: Jupiter’s wide conjunction with Pluto (fight or flight) in Sagittarius and Pluto’s tight square to Mars (by nature, a hot, dry influence) can be seen as fiery assaults on the subjects’ sensory and immune systems, producing extreme and relentless stress. Jupiter’s semi-square relationships to the stellium of the Sun, Uranus, and Neptune are factors that further amplify these nervous/immune system complications, adding to the stress.

The Dual World

Of course, those observing people with ASD and other sensory-challenged individuals are concerned with how these internal challenges manifest in behavior. The push–pull nature of this stressful t-square is mirrored precisely by Ido when he discusses his "dual world": "On the one hand, I have an intelligent mind and I think deeply. On the other hand, I only react to impulses, like a lizard chasing a cricket."19 Jupiter (intellect) and Mars (impulse) are certainly at odds here.

About his proprioceptive problems (Mars-related), Ido says, "I’m not sure where my body is if my eyes are shut. I must see my hands to know where they are. It’s sort of terrible to open my eyes and see my body somewhere in space when I thought it was somewhere else ... I react in confusion because I can’t understand why my body is in the wrong place."20 The proprioceptive sense relies on feedback from our muscles and joints to tell us where our bodies are in space, but it seems that Ido could also be experiencing an impaired vestibular sense — a sense that relies on feedback from the inner ear to help us perceive our movement through, and position in, space, as well as governing our sense of balance. Those with such vestibular discrimination disorders rely on vision and other senses to "discover" where their bodies are. The t-square’s Venus–Saturn square (balance, inner ear) likely plays a role here. With all this, is it any wonder that survival anxiety, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive habits often accompany autism and sensory challenges?

Apraxia is a particularly frustrating motor-planning deficiency that adds to proprioceptive and vestibular problems by undermining purposeful movement — a function of the mind–body connection most people take for granted. Ido says it’s like "a bad phone connection. I know my thoughts are getting lost on the way to my mouth. I think of an idea. I try to say it and the wrong thing comes out ... It’s like my mouth is surprising me and I have to obey it."21 Based on the neurological correlations, apraxia would seem to suggest that Mars (motor) energies are challenged by the complicated Jupiter/Saturn/Neptune (mind) relationship in the t-square, but we will revisit this issue when we consider the Moon’s opposition to the chart’s powerful Capricorn stellium.

First, however, we need to back up and consider Aquarius Mercury’s role in the t-square: Disposed by Saturn and Uranus, Mercury in turn disposes Virgo Mars, meaning that the Mars–Saturn opposition is also influenced by the energies of Mercury and Uranus (the latter empowered by its cazimi with the Sun), with an extra dose of Saturn (disposing Aquarius) for good measure. Of Mercury–Saturn aspects, Ridder-Patrick says that "there can be an underfunctioning of the nervous system generally, but especially that part supplying the organs of speech and hearing."22 Perhaps the body–mind disconnect so prevalent in ASD is what makes speaking so difficult for nonverbal autistics, as well. Tito Mukhopadhyay, a 25-year-old "low-functioning" autistic man, whose mother, Soma, taught him to communicate (and now teaches others), captures this issue in the title of one of his many books: How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?23

autismCarly also describes this frustrating mind–body disconnect, revealing why she bangs her head and flops on the floor. "Most of the time I’m having a power struggle with myself. I tell myself to stop, but I can’t. Have you ever yelled at your boys to clean up their room, but they don’t? It’s like my body. It does not always do what I want it to do ... I act up because I feel so trapped inside myself."24

Carly’s feelings of entrapment seem to be widely shared among autistics, but learning to communicate with the use of technology and letter boards has opened a relief valve for many. Astrology teaches us to resolve the tension and conflicts of a t-square by directing efforts on the chart area opposite the focal planet(s) — in this case, opposite Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus. This point would be in the Mercury-ruled Gemini 8th house, which makes perfect sense: Mercury rules this house from Aquarius, and thus brings its expertise in both communications and technology to bear. Mercury is involved in the problems, so it makes "homeopathic" sense that Mercury would also provide a path forward. Through the intense efforts and resources provided by others (8th house), the Gen Sags with ASD are finding a way out of their forced isolation.

Lady Luna Holds Court

The Moon in this generational chart is a dignified (28°+Cancer) Queen Mother, holding court in Jupiter’s 9th house, whose Cancer cusp suggests that Jupiter’s energies are also potent, even exalted. Given the tendencies toward excess of this strong Sagittarius Jupiter, the wide (128°56’) dissociate (out-of-sign) trine aspect between the Moon and Jupiter deserves note. In fact, the Moon and Jupiter are thought to co-rule the hypothalamus, a key part of the brain’s limbic system that Ridder-Patrick says "is responsible for regulating hunger, thirst, response to pain and pleasure ... [and] the autonomic nervous system, which is in charge of pulse, blood pressure, breathing and arousal in response to emotions."25 It’s possible that this trine reflects an uneasy (dissociate) hypothalamic overload of sorts, which would make sense, since issues around appetite control and emotional arousal often co-exist with autism. One of Carly’s early, "breakthrough" typed messages read: "Look, I will work for food,"26 and Ido speaks for many when he says, "My emotions are like a force that takes over my entire self ... I can’t stop it on my own."27

Since the autonomic nerves regulating skin temperature are also hypothalamus-related, this overload could also speak to Carly’s experiences with burning legs, or to the hypersensitivity to touch, rough fabrics, and clothing tags that many with autism display. The hypothalamus ideally helps our brains, nerves, emotions, and bodies act in coordination, but autistic and sensory-challenged individuals often lack this coordination. The problem is further compounded when we consider additional lunar aspects in this chart:

Moon trine (dissociate) Pluto (0°00’Sagittarius). A tighter aspect than the Moon–Jupiter trine discussed above, Jupiter — conjunct Pluto and ruling Sagittarius — again amplifies its effects. Moon–Pluto contacts can indicate eating disorders and gut issues, and Pluto’s rulership of the reptilian brain, or amygdala, could also explain the flood of anxiety often experienced with sensory challenges. Ido cites a neurologist who thinks that "autism is a severe form of anxiety disorder which inhibits our ability to respond."28 Such anxiety can result from emotional/sensory overload, which in turn produces behaviors often considered problematic or low-functioning. As mentioned earlier, many sensory-besieged autistics employ "hand-flapping" to relieve the uncomfortable flood of energy and anxiety they experience, but this behavior can also cause problems for them. "Mostly it’s the reaction of others to my flapping that is hard to deal with," Ido writes. "It’s painful to see people react like I’m so strange to them. I’d stop if I had another way to release my tension."29

brain The Moon’s "triple whammy." Speaking of the need to release tension, the Cancer Moon in this chart forms an amazing triple opposition to Neptune and Uranus–Sun (cazimi) — all in Capricorn. Surely this complex of tight contacts between outer planets (Uranus–Neptune) and both luminaries — especially during a Full Moon — could create enormous stress on the affected individual’s body–mind. The 3rd-/9th-house placement of this opposition only adds to the stress, as this axis brings mental and nervous system issues to bear. Ridder-Patrick correlates Moon–Uranus oppositions with a "lack of stability and security ... intense emotional excitability ...," and she herself notes a connection between this pair and autism. She links Moon–Neptune contacts with allergies and environmental sensitivities, a problem for many people with ASD.30

Individuals with ASD often need more time and effort to respond to stimuli and directions, perhaps reflecting not only these oppositions and the complicated body (Moon)–mind (Sun–Uranus–Neptune) connections they represent, but also the stressful impact of Saturn disposing and semi-squaring the Capricorn planets. Ridder-Patrick associates Moon–Saturn "afflictions" with "hereditary diseases ... depression owing to fear and abnormal sensitivity ... slowed and inhibited emotional response, as well as restrictive and controlling eating behaviours, which provide fertile ground for illness of all kinds."31 Autism is now shown to be hereditary, and the experiences reported by those with autism confirm how valid the Moon–Saturn concerns are. Speaking about the "paralysis of intentional responses" he experiences, Ido says, "I live in a world in which my brain is sort of only for thinking and my body needs guidance and can’t get the input it needs from the brain."32

On the other hand, perhaps Saturn’s inhibiting influence helps to temper the difficult energies of Uranus and Neptune in this chart, despite the potential stress. To compound the situation, Neptune in Capricorn forms a mutual reception with Saturn in Pisces (they inhabit each other’s home signs), deepening the ways this triple whammy configuration forces Saturn and Neptune out of their respective comfort zones into an uneasy alliance. In combination with the luminaries being electrified by Uranus, it’s no wonder that those affected by this chart experience body–mind disconnect, motor deficits, and a host of emotional frustrations. Their minds can be seen to buzz erratically like electrical wires torn loose by a storm and lying in a pool of water. Watch out!

Typically, neurological and sensorimotor processing work seamlessly together, but it takes a lifetime of effort to forge those connections when they are missing or challenged, and many simply give up trying. As noted earlier, though, Neptune can be helpful: Many sensory-challenged individuals find swimming, water exercise, and water sports quite therapeutic. Ido claims, "In the water I feel my legs and my core and my arms ... On dry land I feel like my body is unreal or not even a part of me sometimes ... if my body wakes up, I’ll be on my way."33

Other therapies that have proven helpful in this "awakening" are, not surprisingly, yoga, tai chi, and any activity that promotes body–mind integration. As mentioned, many with autism now communicate by typing and pointing to letter boards, which is also an important body–mind coordination therapy that requires great effort. Ido works hard at exercise and studies piano to improve his hand–eye and two-sided coordination — bilaterality — a critical skill also impacted by Saturn (left brain) and Neptune (right brain).

psychedelic Finally, the triple whammy might tell us more about the sensory phenomenon of stimming, one of the most amazing pieces of the autism puzzle. Stims are compelling internal impulses that can feel like "waves of sensory energy," according to Ido, who says, "I am bombarded with silver lights and streams of color ... They mesmerize me, but sometimes they scare me ... I am lost in the sensory world that is a relief and a poisonous prison."34 This colorful inner, visual world certainly suggests Neptune’s involvement — especially as Ido also likens stims to an addictive "escapist drug" or trap, akin to alcoholism. Stims drive repetitive, tension-relieving behaviors — hand-flapping, as we’ve seen — and others, such as body-rocking and repetitive vocalizing (echolalia). These behaviors apparently serve a useful grounding purpose, but they can also distract and isolate sensory-challenged individuals, preventing them from participating fully in life, which involves focusing on education, socializing, and so on — hence, the prison.

Stimming surely also involves Aquarius Mercury, the planet that Uranus disposes in this chart. Uranus and Mercury, supercharged even further by Mercury’s opposition to the Leo Midheaven (the MC is thought to impact the brain’s motor nerve centers), can overstimulate the body’s electrical and nervous systems, producing behaviors such as nonstop restless movement, in Carly’s case, or being "overly stimmy," in Ido’s case. A Japanese teen, Naoki Higashida, titled his book The Reason I Jump, and when asked, "Why can you never stay still?" he says, "When I’m not moving, it feels as if my soul is detaching itself from my body, and this makes me so jumpy and scared that I can’t stay where I am."35 We can only speculate whether these electrical issues, common in autism, provide a key to the frequent coexistence of ASD and other electrical disorders like epilepsy.36

Moon square Ascendant (3°43’ Scorpio). This final, major generational Moon aspect (out of sign) points to an increased tendency toward subjectivity and, with hard aspects such as this, a lack of objectivity (also square the Descendant).37 Clearly, an intense inward focus is characteristic of autism, and as we’ve seen, Scorpio rising reinforces this for the Gen Sags by being very self-protective — but the oft-cited notion that people with autism are incapable of empathy is misguided. Empathy is a difficult skill for even neurotypicals at times, but virtually all of the young authors who have been considered here express their awareness of the needs and challenges of others around them — especially their family members and others with autism — and their desire to advocate for those who haven’t made the progress they have. None of this comes easily for them, but square aspects are difficult, after all.

The young people I've included in this article — who represent a growing subgroup within the autism population — have proven that, by learning to communicate and fighting hard for every bit of progress, they can pursue higher educational programs and, in doing so, experience more connected lives than was ever thought possible with autism. Beyond writing and pursuing their education, both Carly and Ido have become voices for autism awareness and research. Carly has been interviewed repeatedly by the media (including 60 Minutes and Ellen DeGeneres, who made a guest appearance at her Bat Mitzvah), and Ido has made numerous public speeches (using his letter board) about autism issues. Both maintain a social media presence that helps to raise awareness.

Chiron Has His Say

hands Lastly, it is worth considering the deeper Chironic wisdom of autism’s intense inward focus. With Chiron at 26°+ Virgo in the generational chart, it’s not surprising that the young authors we’ve heard from express deeply spiritual insight into their "wounded" conditions. In fact, Chiron trines the Capricorn stellium and sextiles the Moon and Pluto (with a wider orb), thus touching both luminaries and the transpersonal outer planets characterized by many astrologers as spiritual in nature. Mercury also comes into play through its rulership of Virgo, the sign of healing. Of Mercury–Chiron contacts, Martin Lass writes: "In general, Chiron aspects to Mercury confer a potential ability to communicate and express the messages of Chiron. However, the manifestation of this expression may tend to be more non-verbal than verbal due to wounds to our ability to communicate verbally and intellectually with others."38

Certainly a breathtaking coincidence for the nonverbal autistics we’ve considered here, these Chiron aspects taken together capture the broader Pluto in Sag generation’s evolutionary task quite well. They are both the children of Pluto’s sojourn in Sagittarius and the children of the still new Uranus–Neptune cycle (begun just two years before their generation landed). As such, they form the leading edge of a new type of human, challenged with incorporating intense outer-planetary energies into everything personal. Such adaptations don’t come easily for anybody, but with Pluto, the wheels keep on turning, inexorably.

Chart data and source:
Pluto Ingress into Sagittarius, January 17, 1995; 1:28 a.m. GMT; Greenwich, England (51°N29’, 00°00’); source: Author cast using Kepler 7.0.

References and Notes:
(All URLs were accessed in May 2015.)
1. The Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation claims that 75% of children with autism also experience sensory processing problems; however, they emphasize that "the reverse is not true ... the two conditions are distinct disorders." http://spdfoundation.net/otherdisorders.html
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United State, 2010," March 28, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6302a1.htm?s_cid=ss6302a1
3. Published in the ISAR Journal, Sagittarius, 2006 issue, pp. 62–68.
4. Pluto entered Sagittarius for the first time in this cycle on January 17, 1995, at 1:28 a.m., Greenwich, England. I use the Greenwich Meridian for mundane charts that have no specific national focus because it’s the closest thing to an astronomical reference point for 0° Aries, and since autism is an issue of global significance, I want this chart to represent the broadest possible perspective.
5. Mainstream demographers define the Millennials as those born between 1980 and 2001; many astrologers define generations by their Pluto sign, so there’s some overlap with the Millennials here, but over time, not all Pluto in Sagittarius individuals will be considered Millennials.
6. The language used to describe those with ASD, like other languages tied to marginalized populations, is a contentious topic. The current best practice we are aware of is to use what is called "identity-first" or "person-first" language, which puts "person" before any identifier such as "autism," e.g., "people with autism" or "individuals with ASD," as opposed to "autistic person" — although the latter may be used when referring to specific individuals who prefer that designation. For both sides of the controversy, see http://autisticadvocacy.org/home/about-asan/identity-first-language/ Due to space considerations, both forms will appear in this article.
7. Ido Kedar, Ido in Autismland: Coming Out of Autism’s Silent Prison, self-published, 2012, pp. 96–97.
8. Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann, Carly’s Voice, Simon & Schuster, 2012.
9. Jane Ridder-Patrick, The Handbook of Medical Astrology, CrabApple Press, 2nd edition, 2006.
10. Marc Edmund Jones, The Sabian Symbols in Astrology, Sabian Publishing Society in association with Shambhala Publications, 1976, p. 183.
11. Ridder-Patrick, p. 68.
12. Fleischmann, pp. 298–299.
13. Bil Tierney, Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, CRCS, 1983, p. 100.
14. Helena M. R. T. Parracho, Max O. Bingham, Glenn R. Gibson, and Anne L. McCartney, "Differences between the gut microflora of children with autistic spectrum disorders and that of healthy children," Journal of Medical Microbiology (2005), 54, pp. 987–991.
15. Elizabeth M. Bonker and Virginia G. Breen, I Am in Here, Revell, 2011, p. 51.
16. The following source provides additional resources and a great PDF handout link for those who are interested in technical detail: "Immunological Factors, Genes, and the Environment," recorded June 1, 2013 at U.C. Davis MIND Institute Auditorium in Sacramento, California. Videos are courtesy of Autism Research Institute, U.C. Davis MIND Institute, and Autism Speaks (http://www.autism.com/symptoms_immune).
17. Fleischmann, pp. 298–299.
18. Ridder-Patrick, p. 29.
19. Kedar, pp. 143–144.
20. Ibid., p. 47.
21. Ibid., p. 53.
22. Ridder-Patrick, p. 79.
23. Arcade Publishing, 2008, 2011.
24. Fleischmann, p. 302.
25. Ridder-Patrick, p. 48.
26. Fleischmann, p. 117.
27. Kedar, p. 107.
28. Ibid., p. 59.
29. Ibid., p. 43.
30. Ridder-Patrick, pp. 76–77.
31. Ibid., p. 76.
32. Kedar, p. 101.
33. Ibid., pp. 84–85.
34. Ibid., p. 42.
35. Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump, Random House, 2007, p. 106.
36. Caren Haines, RN, Silently Seizing, AAPC Publishing, 2012.
37. Ridder-Patrick, p. 78.
38. Martin Lass, Musings of a Rogue Comet: Chiron, Planet of Healing, Galactic Publications, 2001, p. 375.

Image sources:
Chart created and provided by The Mountain Astrologer
All images: CC0 Public Domain, by pixabay.com

First published in: The Mountain Astrologer, Aug/Sep 2015

Author:

Raye RobertsonRaye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, trained by the Faculty of Astrological Studies. She holds degrees in English and Film Studies, and has recently retired from 20+ years of teaching in those and other disciplines. She’s on the road a lot, with five sons and their families scattered to the four winds. Raye can be reached via e-mail at: robertsonraye@gmail.com

© 2015 Raye Robertson - published by The Mountain Astrologer

Current Planets
27-May-2017, 03:58 UT/GMT
Sun64' 1"21n19
Moon2518' 5"18n54
Mercury1233'43"12n49
Venus2026'20"6n17
Mars2419' 6"24n09
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Saturn2552'58"r22s00
Uranus2646'28"9n48
Neptune149' 9"7s03
Pluto195' 5"r21s15
TrueNode2752'50"r12n12
Chiron2819'52"2n51
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