Since I decided to go with the incendiary headline, let's get a few things out of the way first.
1) I am not one of those atheists who believes that everyone who is not an atheist is stupid or bigoted. I believe in religious freedom, not universal atheism. I like and respect religious people. I believe that religions do both good and bad things. I don't think all religions are equal but I try to treat them all with equal respect since I don't share any of them.
2) Lots of autistic people are atheists, but lots are also religious. There is some research indicating that we might be less disposed toward belief than others. I am skeptical of this research-- I think maybe the way autism has been defined by some scientists (extreme male brain) may skew it. I know many intensely, and beautifully, religious autistic people.
3) My autism does not prevent my from being able to believe. I have been a Christian. I have been a Buddhist. I have benefited from being part of both of those traditions. I'm not an atheist because the faithy part of my brain is missing or damaged. I have the capacity for belief, and I believe that the vast majority of other autistic people do, too.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked to ABC's George Stephanopoulos for Easter. Early this morning, I read what Dolan said about gay people feeling unwelcome in the Catholic church:
“Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’ But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally,” Dolan said. “We got to be – we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”
And I thought, I want to see him say that. So I watched when the interview was on this morning.
There's an interpretation of Exodus that teaches that Moses not only put the tablets of the law that he received on Mount Sinai into the ark of the covenant, but also was commanded by God to add the broken pieces of the first tablets that he broke in anger after seeing the people worshipping a golden calf. I love that idea. The broken and the whole were together in the same ark.
So, too, we are all in the embrace of a loving God. Those of us who are mostly whole and those of us who are slightly broken are all together in the same ark. The image of God is upon all of us. Your son is very lucky to have such a loving and spiritually sensitive father. God bless you both.
Rose explains what stimming is:
It is worship.
It is acceptance.
It is a message that says that I have so much to express and cannot hold it all inside and I must show you right now.
It is joy.
And what it is not:
What it isn’t is shameful.
Pastor Henry Clarke's life was a bewildering mixture of successes and challenges before he found out about his Asperger's syndrome:
"As a minister and someone who had done a lot of good around the world, I had to ask myself, 'What is wrong with me?'" he said. "How can so many pieces of my life be successful ... in other people's words, brilliant, and yet simple things are just a struggle?"
He looked for answers. "I came across this article about adults with Asperger's syndrome, and quite frankly, I thought I was reading my own story, so I dug further."
Now his diagnosis at age 45 has allowed him to know the truth, and that truth is setting him free
"One of the things that helped me through all of this was something the apostle Paul wrote, 'In my weakness, God's strength is perfected,'" Clarke said. "I had to acknowledge my weakness and my strength."
Even though I am not religious, I believe that religion is most often a source of strength and a guide to compassion for families with autistic kids. The video above makes me sad for Ethan, whose parents think God has healed from autism. What a burden that must be for his tiny frame to carry! It makes me sad for his parents, who may blame themselves if his "recovery" turns out to be less complete or miraculous than they now believe it to be. But, really, it makes me saddest of all for the Christians I know who turn to God for help embracing and supporting a child who is different rather than asking Him to obliterate those differences. It's not my team, but it's a good team, and I hate to see it represented like this.