At a coffee shop in TriBeCa one morning
two weeks ago, David Minh Wong, age 7, was in constant motion. He played
with quarters on the table. He dropped them on the floor. He leaned on
his mother and walked away.
"Tell him I'm strong," he said to his mother. Yolanda Badillo,
50. She sat in a booth with a neighbor, who was there with her granddaughter.
"I woke up at 2:16 this morning, and it wasn't raining," he
"I'm getting bored," he said.
At David's public school, where he is in a program for gifted and talented
second graders, a teacher told Ms. Badillo that he is arrogant for a boy
his age, and teachers since preschool have described him as bright but
sometimes disruptive. But Ms. Badillo, a homeopath and holistic health
counselor, has her own assessment. To her David's traits - his intelligence,
empathy, and impatience - make him an "indigo" child.
"He told me when he was 6 months old that he was going to have trouble
in school because they wouldn't know where to fit him," she said,
adding that he told her this through his energy, not in words. "Our
consciousness is changing, it's expanding, and the indigos are here to
show us the way," Ms. Badillo said. "We were much more connected
with the creator before, and we're trying to get back to that connection."
If you have not been in an alternative bookstore lately, it is possible
that you have missed the news about indigo children. They represent "perhaps
the most exciting, albeit odd, change in basic human nature that has ever
been observed and documented." Lee Carroll and Jan Tober write in
"The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived (Hay House). The
book has sold 250,000 copies since 1999 and has spawned a cottage industry
of books about indigo children.
Hay House said it has sold 500,000 books on indigo children. A documentary,
"Indigo Evolution," is scheduled to open on about 200 screens
- at churches, yoga centers, college campuses and other places - on Jan.
27 (locations at www.spiritualcinemanetwork.com)
Indigo children were first described in the 1970's by a San Diego parapsychologist,
Nancy Ann Tappe, who noticed the emergence of children with an indigo
aura, a vibrational color she had never seen before. This color, she reasoned,
coincided with a new consciousness.
In "The Indigo Children," Mr. Carroll and Ms. Tober define the
phenomenon. Indigos , they write, share traits like high I.Q., acute intuition,
self-confidence, resistance to authority and disruptive tendencies, which
are often diagnosed as attention-deficit disorder, known as A.D.D., or
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D.
Offered as a guide for "the parents of unusually bright and active
children," the book includes common criticisms of today's child rearing;
that children are overmedicated; that schools are not creative environments,
especially for bright students; and that children need more time and attention
from their parents. But the book seeks answers to mainstream parental
concerns in the paranormal.
"To me these children are the answers to the prayers we all have
for peace," said Doreen Virtue, a former psychotherapist for adolescents
who now writes books and lectures on indigo children. She calls the indigos
a leap in human evolution. "They're vigilant about cleaning the earth
of social ills and corruption, and increasing integrity," Ms. Virtue
said. "Other generations tried, but then they became apathetic. This
generation won't, unless we drug them into submission with Ritalin."
To skeptics the concept of indigo children belongs in the realm of wishful
thinking and New Age credulity. "All of us would prefer not to have
our kids labeled with a psychiatric disorder, but in this case it's a
sham diagnosis," said Russell Barkley, a research professor of psychiatry
at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
"There's no science behind it. There are no studies."
Dr. Barkley likened the definition of indigo children to an academic exercise
called "Barnum statements," after P.T. Barnum, in which a person
is given a list of generic psychological characteristics and becomes convinced
that they apply to him or her. The traits attributed to indigo children,
he said, are so general that they "could describe most of the people
most of the time," which means that they don't describe anything.
Parents who attribute their children's inattention or disruptive behavior
to vibrational energy, he said, risk delaying proper diagnosis and treatment
that might help them.
To indigos and their parents, however, such skepticism is the usual resistance
to any new and revolutionary idea. America had always had a soft spot
for the supernatural. A November 2005 poll by Harris Interactive found
that one American in five believes he or she has been reincarnated; 40
percent believe in ghosts; 68 percent believe in angels. It is not surprising
then that indigo literature, which incorporates some of these beliefs
along with common anxieties about child psychology, has found a receptive
Annette Piper, a mother of two in Memphis, said that she had planned to
go to medical school until she realized she was an indigo, able to tell
what was wrong with people by touching them. Like a lot of others who
describe themselves as indigos, she was also sensitive to chemicals and
fluorescent lights. Instead of going to medical school, she became an
intuitive healer, directing the energy fields around people, and opened
a New Age store called Spiritual Freedom.
Her daughter Alexandra, 10, is also an indigo, she said. The play games
to cultivate their telepathic powers, but at school Alexandra struggles,
Ms. Piper said. "She has trouble finishing her work in school and
wants to argue with the teacher if she thinks she's right," Ms. Piper
said. "I don't think she's found out what her gifts are. From the
influence in school and friends she lays off these abilities. She's a
little afraid of them."
Problems in school are common for indigos, said Alex Perkel, who runs
ReBirth Esoteric Science Center in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a bilingual
(Russian-English) center dedicated to "the knowledge of ancient esoteric
schools and Eastern science," according to its Web site (www.esotericinfo.com).
Last year the center organized a class for indigo children but canceled
it when families dropped out for economic reasons.
"A lot of people don't understand the children because the children
are very smart," Mr. Perkel said. "They have knowledge like
our teachers. They don't want to go to school. No. 1, because they don't
need the knowledge they can get from school. So parents bring them to
psychologists, and psychologists start giving them pills to take out their
will and memory. We developed a special program to help them understand
that they came to this planet to change the consciousness because they
have guides from a higher world."
Stephen Hinshaw, a professor and the chairman of psychology at the University
of California, Berkeley, acknowledged that "there is a legitimate
concern that we are overmedicating normal childhood, particularly with
A.D.H.D." But, he said, research shows that even gifted children
with attention-deficit problems do better with more structure in the classroom,
"If you conduct a very open classroom, kids with A.D.H.D. may fir
in better, because everyone' running around, but there's no evidence that
it helps children with A.D.H.D. learn. On the other hand if you have a
more traditional classroom, with consistent tasks and expectations and
rewards, kids with A.D.H.D. may have a harder time fitting in at first,
but in the long run there's evidence that it helps
Julia Tuchman, a partner in Neshama Healing in Manhattan, who works with
a lot of indigo children and adults, said it was important for their families
not to turn away from traditional psychology and medicine.
I'm very holistically oriented, but many people who come here I send to
doctors," she said. "I'm not against medication at all. I just
think it's overused." When parents take children to her for treatment
- she practices electromagnetic field balancing, a touch-free massage
that purports to tune a person's electromagnetic field - she said that
just telling the children that they have special gifts is often a healing
"Can you imagine a child going up to his parents and saying, 'I'm
talking to an angel' or 'I'm talking to someone who's deceased'?"
Ms. Tuchman asked. " A lot of them have no one to talk to."
She, like others who see indigos, sees them as a reason for hope.
Even disruptive behavior has a purpose, said Marjorie Jackson, a tai chi
and yoga teacher in Altadena, Calif., who said that her son, Andrew, is
an indigo. Andrew, now 25, was not disruptive as a child, she said, but
in her practice she sees indigos who are.
"The purpose of the disruptive ones is to overload the system so
the school will be inspired to change," Ms. Jackson said. "The
kids may seem like they have A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. What that is, is that
the stimulus given to them, their inner being is not interested in it.
But if you give them something that harmonizes with the broad intention
that their inner self has for them, they won't be disruptive."
She said that schools should treat children more like adults, rather than
placing them in "fear-based constrictive, no-choice environments,
where they explode."
Ms. Jackson compared people who do not recognize indigos to Muggles, the
name used by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter books to describe ordinary
people who have no connection with magic. "I would say 90 percent
of the world is like the Muggles," she said. "You don't talk
about this stuff with them because it's going to scare them.:"
In the TriBeCa coffee shop , David Minh Wong continued to play with his
coins and talk to his mother. Ms. Badillo and her neighbor Sandra McCoy
said they have family members who don't believe in the indigo idea. Ms.
McCoy sat with her goddaughter, Jasmine Washington, 14. In contrast to
David, Jasmine listened serenely, waiting for questions.
Yet Jasmine too is an indigo child. Ms. McCoy said, " I always knew
there was something different about her. Then when I saw something about
indigos on televisions, I knew what it was." Like many other indigos
Jasmine is home-schooled.
For Jasmine, who often sensed she was different from other children, especially
in public schools, the designation of indigo is a comfort.
"The kids now are very different, so it's good that there's a name
for it, and people pay attention to what's different about them,"
Jasmine said. Like the woman at the table she said that indigos have a
special purpose: "To help the world come together again. If something
bad happens, I always think I can fix it. Since we have these abilities,
we can help the world."
Copyright 2006 The New York Times