Reincarnation Type Presentations of Children with High-Functioning Autism in Sri Lanka

Explore (NY). 2018 May-Jun;14(3):230-233. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2017.09.011. Epub 2018 Mar 1.


Autism is characterised by impaired social communication and restricted repetitive behaviours. However, language and intelligence are spared in high-functioning individuals. The symptomatology is complex and culturally diverse. Buddhists and Hindus believe in rebirth and reincarnation type presentations in children are frequently seen among these populations. Here we describe three children from Sri Lanka claiming memories of their past lives and later diagnosed to have high-functioning autism. The first, a seven-year-old Buddhist believes he was killed by terrorists as a soldier in his previous life and attributed his birthmark to be an injury which caused death. The second, a five-year-old Catholic girl suffering from asthma claiming she died of breathing difficulties in her previous life where she was a Buddhist grandmother. The third, an eight-year-old academically superior child claims he was a monk in his previous life and demands parents to allow him to enter the priesthood.

Keywords: Autistic disorder; Buddhism; Catholicism; Child; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Sri Lanka.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Buddhism
  • Catholicism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Hinduism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality*
  • Sri Lanka