Sunday, July 29, 2012

Aspies in the Church

On Rachel Held Evans' site, there is an excellent post by Erin Thomas on Embracing Faith As an Aspie.  The post is excellent, as were many of the comments.  But my favorite comment was by lainiep:

"As an aspie female myself, I resonate with a lot of what Erin has to say. One of the difficulties with Asperger's Syndrome is that it is often very difficult to find safe community. Ironically, this can be particularly difficult in churches that emphasize 'relationships,' 'transparency,' etc. For many people in these churches, someone who needs time to get to know others is clearly broken and in need of fixing.

"(An aspie is also vulnerable to abusers/bullies/power-trippers in churches who use the rhetoric of community.)

"Until churches are willing to acknowledge that genuine relationships take time to develop and stop expecting instant intimacy, aspies may have a difficult time finding a suitable worshiping community."

And Maddie_Faddenoid has a good response to that:

"I don't have aspergers but I'm introverted and I can relate to that so much. I went to a church that was all about 'relationships' and 'accountability' and I felt under a lot of pressure to share my biggest struggles and deepest vulnerabilities with people I wasn't totally comfortable with because I didn't know them very well at all. It was difficult. I was treated as if I had something wrong with me and it was hur[t]ful. The super-extroverted youth pastor just didn't get me at all and would leap to hurtful conclusions about me, my family, my upbringing and what he considered to be 'my issues' (none of his 'counsel' was solicited). It's horrible to have to justify who you cannot possibly help being when who you cannot possibly help being is treated as defective.  This was all in the name of relationships and accountability."

2 comments:

  1. Hi James,
    I discovered your blog when I was searching up on on the internet for bloggers who have aspergers so that I can try to understand my condition which I had been diagnosed with 6 years ago after having a very difficult social experience in my high school days. I have been ashamed of my condition and have been in a state of denial over whether I have this condition for a long time but have recently begun to try to understand this diagnosis that I have by looking up the internet for accounts of people with Aspergers. It is a godsend to be able to chance upon your blog. Your account with Aspergers resonates with resemblance to mine. I do identify with your struggles with your experience as a Christian, with socializing, and with finding a date. I find it difficult to identify with the extraverted-oriented focus of the evangelistic churches. I always feel emotionally detached from the worship experience with other christians. I find it hard to lead group prayers because I find myself lost for ideas or words on what to pray. I find it difficult on how to be in a relationship. From numerous rejection, I have become apprehensive of taking the initiative when it comes to a relationship because I may sour friendships. I am intimidated about assuming executive roles in any organisation or school sub-groups as I have that feeling that I am not suitable for leadership position. I find it difficult to know what to do or say in a group social conversation.
    Your writings relating to your experience as an Aspie express the experience that I am going through as an aspie that I find hard to express with similar clarity. A blog writing that I read on http://blog.xanthippas.com/2008/04/29/aspergers-and-writing/ suggests that people with Aspergers might find it difficult to write but I am unsure whether this is a universal experience amongst people with Aspergers considering the numerous blogs written by people with Asperger's that I have read, and considering the information from the internet that some of the greatest writers such as Hans Christian Anderson, Jane Austen, and Bertrand Russell probably have Aspergers as well.
    I am a 22 years old living in Singapore currently studying for a law degree at the National University of Singapore. My difficulties as an Aspie seems more pronounced now that I am in college. I do find myself stuttering in moots(mock law trial) and in giving presentations. I do struggle with stringing together a coherent piece of research work. I do hope to surmount my difficulties because I have always fancied taking a role in academia as a career, partly because I am afraid that I might find it difficult to survive the social jungle in the working world. I am not sure whether this struggle I face are typical of traits of Aspergers Syndrome. You do have a very good memory considering your ability to reference from sources that you have encountered in the past and to cite them with regards to the subject of the post that you are writing. I am okay with analyzing the arguments and propositions of a person's writings but I find it hard to string together a coherent thesis from different sources of writings. It would be great if you could write about your account of any difficulties with work faced in school when you were in college.
    The condition of Aspergers syndrome isn't well-known amongst the Singapore community. There aren't any social help groups here for people with Aspergers syndrome. I try to find as much social support from my Christian discipleship groups. It is only recently that I have begun to discover online Aspie communities such as wrongplanet and the Autism and Aspergers Christian Forum on www.christianforums.com. Do you have any advice or suggestions for finding a community as a Christian Aspie?
    Feel free to add me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/samuel.tee.we. God Bless.

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  2. Thank you for your comment, Samuel! I'm actually in graduate school now, and I find that I have some of the same challenges that you have in law school. I do fairly well at grasping another person's argument, and maybe even evaluating it. But coming up with a coherent thesis for an original paper topic is a challenge for me. In terms of what I do for finding community as a Christian Aspie, it's varied. Nowadays, I go to a mainline Protestant church, which is a nice community. That's where I am now. If you've not done so already, you may want to click on the link to the post on Rachel's blog on my post and read the post on Rachel's blog and the comments.

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