By Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon
Being autistic and striving to be a Christian is very rigorous at times, especially if there are little resources or examples for such community.
I’ve been practicing Christianity for about a year and two months. It may have been a difficult year of struggles; heck I still have to work on (e.g., having MY OWN convictions that are based on the Bible, not solely word-of-mouth). But I’m growing more convinced that through the power of the Trinity, even autistic people can change the world as Jesus did.
I love studying the bible, praying for people, helping out people, going to mission trips (to take pictures of those experiences), and hanging out. Sometimes, I would blog about my faith on my website.
Yet, I don’t really feel like a member of the church at times. I interact with people, but not as well in huge crowds (so many people and too noisy). It seems like some would see this as not wanting to fellowship when it’s only part of my autism. I feel like very few of my peers understand my challenges with fellowshipping. I also struggle with emotional meanings behind certain passages.
I’m scared even more when it appears that I’m alone in the fight to stick with Christianity as an autistic person. I met two boys in a Birmingham church who are autistic, but I’ve yet to find autistic adults who are Christian. How can I be an autistic Christian if there is lack of adequate examples of such persons out there?
I believe that first step in seeing more autistic Christians (especially those who are living independently and are verbal) is to provide resources that could help them grow in the faith. The catch is that resources have to come from someone or an entity who fully understands autistic Christians’ hardships in the world. Resources could even come from a person in the autistic spectrum who been the faith for a long time (e.g., at least 2 years). Providing spiritual guidance from the verbal, independent autistic’s point of view is more beneficial than turning to a place or someone with limited/stereotypical knowledge of the condition.
Meanwhile, more Christians that are autistic should network with each other and share their testimonies to non-autistic Christians. That will inspire many people and convince of how God could work through anyone.
With those, I would hope to see news of more autistic Christians making a difference in people’s lives and less of parent’s woes with raising an autistic child in a Christian household.
(sidebar) Links related to Autistic Christians:
Autism Society (Religion and Autism): http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/family-issues/religion-and-autism.html
Books and Resources on Religion, Spirituality, and Moral Development: http://www.neurodiversity.com/religion.html
Christianity and Autism Forum: http://www.aspiesforfreedom.com/showthread.php?tid=21631
James Tuttle (autism advocate, political advocate, and commentator on spiritual issues): https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Tuttle/23053891623
Spectrum Ministries: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spectrum-Ministires
Photo Credit: Carlos Solares/Flickr
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2012 and has been edited for clarity, has a new author bio and has as a new featured image.