James Twyman is convinced that there's a new generation of special children among us who are psychically sensitive and spiritually evolved.
Those who follow metaphysics and ancient spiritual teachings have for years quietly nurtured the belief in these kids, known as Indigo children for the deep blue color of the "auras" psychics say they see around them.
Skeptics point out that there's no scientific research backing up the existence of these children, and Twyman, 43, knows that's true.
"Certainly in the scientific realm, this is just a bunch of New Age nonsense," says Twyman, a writer and musician known as a "peace troubadour" in his hometown of Ashland, Ore. "But I think anyone with an inquisitive and rational mind can look at many children out there today and say there's something about them."
Twyman was so inspired by Indigo children that he has co-written and produced a movie called Indigo about a girl with intuitive abilities.
In the film, a fictional girl called Grace has psychic and healing powers. She senses harmful situations before they happen and feels an instant kinship with other Indigos.
Tammy Glover says she sees evidence of the phenomenon in her daughters, ages 9 and 3, who she says have talked about past lives and seem to know things before they happen.
Glover says her preschooler, for example, described a bathing suit in detail that Glover had purchased for her, even though she says she never told the child she was going to buy her anything.
"I'm absolutely a believer," she says.
Glover's daughters are both in the movie, which was filmed in Ashland using local actors, including Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling Conversations with God (Penguin Group) books.
In a one-day event in late January, more than 600 churches, movie theaters, schools and bookstores screened Indigo in the USA and Canada. The independent film took in almost $1.2 million, Variety says. Now the movie is available on DVD at mainstream video and other stores.
The movie, along with several new books and Indigo-focused Web sites, is bringing the Indigo phenomenon to the attention of the general — and often skeptical — public.
Even among believers, Indigo kids are known to exhibit some unruly behaviors similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; they are often diagnosed with ADHD.
Some mental health experts fear that parents may embrace the Indigo label because they don't want to believe their children have behavior problems associated with ADHD, such as resistance to authority and trouble with school rules.
"The odds are that mixed in that group are a number of children who are very, very bright and astute and alert and very sensitive to picking up cues in other people," says David Stein, a psychology professor at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.
But "I would not call them Indigo children. I would simply say it's a bright child who misbehaves."
David Cohen, a clinical social work professor at Florida International University in Miami, agrees.
"The view in medicine is that ADHD is a defect. It's a disorder," he says. "If you're a parent, the idea of 'gifted' is much more appealing than the idea of a disorder."
March data from the National Center for Health Statistics say 6% of children ages 3-17 had ADHD in 2003.
But believers say Indigos are special kids who have been misunderstood.
"These are sensitive, gifted artists who are non-conformists and don't fit in, and that's what gets them sent to the school psychologist," says Doreen Virtue, author of the 2003 book The Crystal Children: A Guide to the Newest Generation of Psychic and Sensitive Children (Hay House Inc).
Teresa Zepeda's daughter Crystal is among the case studies in Virtue's book. Zepeda, of San Antonio, says Crystal healed herself of an earache when she was 6. Zepeda says she told her to "lie down, put her hand on her ear and ask God and Jesus to heal her."
Indigos may have existed in many generations. But in the past, parents may have discouraged kids from developing psychic talents, says Wendy Chapman, director of a Web site called MetaGifted.org.
Twyman believes Indigo kids will play a significant role in the evolution of humanity. "It's such an important time in human evolution and our history that we need wise souls," he says. "Maybe it's possible these children are coming to save the planet."
Meghan McCandless, now 11, stars in the Indigo movie, but her family is not convinced Indigos really exist.
"We are from fundamentally different places spiritually," says Cameron McCandless, Meghan's mom. "There has never been any shred of evidence that I've seen to support the existence of Indigo or that phenomenon. However, there are people that we respect and admire who believe in that."