FOR Close to Home today, let me share an article that is written by Horst Hellman, my mentor and friend.

Horst Hellman with teachers and parents of Tuburan.

It is common to keep the baby in the stroller and let it face the surroundings but not the parent. This is a serious problem because a successful development needs, right in the beginning, the experience of security provided by seeing the parents.
Only then the mirror neurons in the brain are activated, mirror neurons are a neuronal net providing resonance experiences (this is the neurons that is responsible in making my brain feel what you are feeling). The mirror neurons are enabling feelings of empathy. The early experiences of the child are registered and stored and on those tracks all emotional-cognitive processes are running lifelong.

Very often we see parents who put the baby in the stroller and position the baby facing the world without shield. In this way, the baby is exposed to the surrounding with a stream of unfiltered images as opposed to positioning the baby so that it looks up to the face of the parent. In the former position, the parent cannot observe the facial expression of the child. Worse, they often even do not see the child when there is a sun protection attached to the stroller. The mother does not see if the child is anxious, and one can say that this is a kind of neglection. The child is left alone, having no concepts for what is approaching from ahead. The environment lets the child draw back inwardly and this is the image of autism. When this is always happening, the child is on the way to develop the autistic syndrome.

We know that self-esteem and trust is coming through bonding which is happening in a young age through looking each other into the eyes. Positive relationships need empathy and bonding. When the child meets the view of the parent, she or he is assured that the world is not a danger; whatever may happen the view of the mother says: You are safe. The smile of the parent is protecting from fear and stress. This is important for a stable development of thinking, feeling and the will.

When the child in the stroller is separated from the loving view of the parent, later it will probably develop difficulties in connecting with the people around and this is the beginning of autism. Adding to this is the use of video games and TV. These devices make it even more lonely for the child, because nobody speaks to the child and he is prevented from thinking for himself. The voice from the loud speaker has little effect on learning to speak because the speaker has no personal intention that a real person has. Language only develops properly through the original conversation and listening to stories which are told by a real person. Psychologist and educators should raise their voices to save the children from autism!

Horst Hellman is a Waldorf school mentor who goes around Asia and other continents to help establish Waldorf schools in many countries. He was a teacher in Germany for 30 years. This month, Horst came to visit Tuburan Institute to mentor the teachers and share his knowledge to the public about the beauty of raising children and the Steiner School pedagogy. For questions, feel free to email the columnist, Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan at or visit the webpage of Tuburan Institute at


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