Category Archives: Asperger’s/Autism

A Personal Message to Someone I Met

Hi there

I don’t know your name, but it was lovely to have that interesting and gentle conversation with you yesterday, despite our having only just met, at Sainsbury’s in Bridgwater in Somerset. Hearing a lady whistling a Vineyard song from the 1980s was so unusual, I just had to come over and say something!

Our conversation began over that worship song – ‘Change My Heart O God’, from the Vineyard in about 1986. In reply to your question, I declared that Yes, God has indeed changed my heart in dramatic ways, but not in ways that many Christians can cope with. Remember, it’s not up to me how God changes me; it’s just my task to follow where He leads, and that’s going to be different for each of us.

Having received the tendered business card for my blog, and the accompanying explanation, I appreciate that meeting a Spirit-filled Christian who doesn’t believe in Hell must have come as a bit of a shock to you. Maybe that was something a little outside your experience, and I apologise for shocking you with that little nugget. I must say I did warn you, though, that I was an heretic!

I may have got this wrong – I am Autistic, so I don’t always pick up properly on what people are saying…but it seemed that your assumption was that I don’t believe in the Bible either. Well, I really do believe in it – subject to an intelligent reading, taking into account things like literary and historical context, type of literature and similar factors, and all this reading with the Person of Jesus in mind and the Holy Spirit doing His usual narrative in my spirit.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but some people have different interpretations to Scripture passages than do others. In this case, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus was, I think, the passage you were referring to. I always have to remind myself that when Jesus was speaking in parables, He was deliberately being slightly obfuscatory, where some thinking in his listeners would be necessary in order to glean the nuggets of wisdom contained within. Parables are all about hidden meanings. But one of the key things about parables is that they are stories with a meaning, and the very last thing that they are meant for is to be taken literally. If you read the context of that Parable, it’s all about the Jews not bearing fruit despite repeated exhortations from God. And there are as many different interpretations of most Scriptures, not just the Parables, as there are people reading them. Except for the Jehovah’s Witnesses; they are all told what to believe and no dissension is allowed. We don’t want to be like that. But this is the reason why there are so many – tens of thousands, in fact – Christian denominations!

Please let me reiterate that I have the highest respect for the Bible, as long as it is used correctly. I am a Bible college graduate who knows the Bible inside out; I have several sections memorised by heart; and I quote from it regularly in my writings, usually using passages that I have found already to be true in my life. I’m sorry I couldn’t explain things to you properly, but as I said, I am Autistic, and my main medium for communication is in writing, like here in my blog. I find it very hard to communicate face-to-face, because of a number of factors. The main thing is that I can’t understand body language, and so, for me, interfacing with others is often like speaking only half a language. Also, because of the way my thought processes work, I can’t formulate proper trains of speech on the spur of the moment; I need time to consider replies properly, and so my face-to-face interactions come across as a series of disjointed arguments which only make sense in my own thought patterns. These patterns make perfect sense to me, but they won’t make sense to someone we would call a Neurotypical (NT); a non-derogatory term meaning someone whose brain is wired ‘normally’, whereas the brain of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome (my particular Autistic Spectrum Condition) is wired differently from those of NT people.

I can – and I have done it many times – stand up in front of hundreds of people and lead them in worship, or preach a sermon. It comes easily to me, but that’s because in that situation I don’t need to do any interpersonal interactions. But put me one-on-one, and I am usually at a complete loss.

So, yes, it was lovely to meet you and yes, we are greatly enjoying our holiday here in Somerset. I think next time I meet a fellow believer, though, I will let them see what fruit I have in my life before mentioning a contentious issue. He is indeed the Potter, and I am the clay. Who am I to contest the work He’s doing in my life? Isaiah 29:16 says this:

You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?

– Is 29:16

I wouldn’t dream of changing the things He’s done in my life, nor unlearning the things He’s taught me. For me, once I have tasted, there is no untasting. Once I have seen, there is no unseeing. Once I have been given something from God, I cannot and will not reject it, because His calling and gifts are irrevocable (Rom 11.29). I have to do what I see the Father doing (Jn 5:19); how else could I honour God’s calling on my life?

To better understand where I was coming from, all I can suggest is that you read some of my blog posts – there are over 500 of them to pick from – with an open mind and see how I came into the freedom I have, and what that freedom looks like. Maybe you too might be able to catch a glimpse of the wide-open spaces of God’s Grace and move out even further into the broad, sunlit uplands of freedom in the Spirit, guided by the Master’s Hand. Remember that, as a Christian of 38 years’ standing, I will not have reached the conclusions and positions I have reached without a great deal of study, thought and prayer.

And don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of dissing your faith or your beliefs. I’m not saying you don’t already know Him; you do. I’m not saying you don’t already have freedom; you do. But there is so much more to learn, and so much deeper depths of God, and so much wider freedom than you may know. I have heard people talking about ‘pressing in’ to God; well, that’s what it looks like. As C. S. Lewis once wrote, ‘Further up and further in!’, and this is a never-ending process.

I hope this hasn’t come across as condescending; that would never be my intention. As you are probably aware, Autism means that sometimes people lack the social graces necessary to keep others comfortable. If that’s the case here, I am sorry. It also means that, when you first meet someone, you really don’t know what sort of filters and barriers that person is trying to overcome in order to try to communicate. One thing’s for sure, though. Next time, it will not be the case that I virtually introduce myself as someone who does not believe in Hell. That’s always going to get a conversation off on the wrong foot!

Keep on singing the songs, dear sister. And always bear in mind that someone might come into hearing range and start harmonising with your music, and your worship… 😉

Peace and Grace to you.

– Anthony


Yes, the header picture is actually of the Bridgwater branch of Sainsbury’s. Well, I am quite pedantic; no other picture would do 😉

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Asperger’s Syndrome is a Gift

I am an Aspie.

I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which simply means that my mind is ‘wired’ differently from the minds of non-ASD people – people for whom Aspies have a non-derogatory term of ‘neurotypicals’ or ‘NT’. Rather than rehash the whole thing, I will simply refer you to my previous piece on the subject, and it’s here.

My own personal take on it – I was only diagnosed in 2013 – is that I see it as a gift, not as a hindrance. The reduced capabilities in some areas of life are, to my mind, more than compensated for by the tremendous benefits it brings. I have never thought of my ‘condition’ as a ‘disorder’, an illness, or a defect of any kind; to me, this is my ‘normal’. I have even rejected offers from people wanting to pray for me to be ‘healed’ from it (from hopefully well-meaning) people who simply lacked knowledge*. No, the term ‘disorder’ is not a helpful one. In fact, in many ways, my mind is more ‘ordered’ than that of a NT.

And I used to jokingly say that I thought that Asperger’s is the next stage in human evolution, and of course I received severe teasing for that from Fiona and my family whenever I did something silly. ‘Oh. look what the next stage in human evolution has done this time!’

But then I found a YouTube video about Asperger’s featuring a gentleman whom I consider to be the leading world authority on Asperger’s Syndrome. And he too sees it as a gift, and at the end of the video his last line is “…is Asperger’s the next stage in human evolution?” Clearly, he’s been thinking ‘outside the box’ too! (Or, as Aspies would say, ‘What box?!’)

I also noticed several things in the video that really clicked with me. But I won’t spoil the fun…this video is about 26 minutes long, but if you either have Asperger’s Syndrome yourself, or you know someone who has it and you want to understand them a little better, then this will be 26 minutes well spent.

Here’s the video. Enjoy!


*Although one was a raving (literally) Fundie who was having a go at me!

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The Aspergic Christian

My regular readers will know that I have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) called ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’. I’m Aspergic; I’m an ‘Aspie’, and I’m proud of it!*

I’ve written this piece for two reasons. Firstly, in order to help other believers who have Asperger’s Syndrome, to help them see how they ‘fit in’ to the Church and the Things of God. To help them cope with people who do not see the world, the Church and the Father in quite the same way as they do. And secondly, in order to inform that majority of people who are not Aspergic – we Aspies call them ‘Neurotypicals’, or ‘NTs’ – a non-derogatory term simply meaning that their brains are wired ‘typically’, or ‘normally’, as in, like those of ‘most’ people. I hope that NT readers of this article will be able to gain some insight as to how we Aspies think. I will use the abbreviation ‘NTs’ in this article. Aspies’ brains are, however, ‘wired differently’.

aspie1

For example, one of the things that Aspies do exceptionally well is to think ‘outside the box’. In fact, for many Aspies, there is no box!

aspie_box

I mention this because it is important that we understand right from the beginning that Aspies do not think like NTs. It means that some NTs may find it hard to follow their lines of reasoning, and may even wonder how they arrive at the conclusions they do. This is all part of it. In fact, I am very blessed in that my boss is great: he often invites me to give my perspective in meetings precisely because I offer a (sometimes very) different viewpoint from everyone else. I think of things that no-one else does. And he likes to take advantage of that. Granted, NTs too can think outside the box, but some Aspies really excel at it.

Anyway, I know how hard it can be to ‘fit in’ to any ‘community’ of NTs, especially in a Church where maybe people have set lines drawn that it is ‘forbidden’ to cross; the Aspie, however, doesn’t even notice these lines! Here, then, I present some ‘tips’ for Aspergic Christians, and indeed for Aspies in general; I do not feel I am being presumptuous in offering these because a) I am Aspie; I wouldn’t recognise presumption if it bit me on the bum, and b) I’m writing from 50+ years’ experience in interfacing with NTs. Here we go, then:

  • Despite its name, Asperger’s Syndrome is not a ‘condition’ or a ‘syndrome’ in the sense that it’s not an illness. There is nothing wrong with you; you’re just different from others. You can’t ‘cure’ it because there’s nothing wrong to cure; it’s simply the way you are made. In some ways, it’s the ultimate in individuality!
  • Give yourself a break – (as in, ‘Gimme a break, willya!’) – don’t be too hard on yourself! As an Aspie, you may have perfectionist tendencies, but you don’t have to be a slave to perfectionism. Go easy on yourself.
  • Remember that other people will not see things as you do. Give them a break too. People might not see or understand things that to you seem obvious. And their points of view will be different. This does not necessarily mean that either of you are wrong.
  • Sometimes you might find that you can listen to several conversations at once, or perhaps you find your mind spinning with thoughts and ideas while in a conversation. One of the things I found hardest was finding a way to integrate this into times when I was in a conversation with one person. It’s sometimes hard to stay on track with the conversation because your mind wants to fly off at a tangent, and it’s easy to get distracted, or to stop listening. This is often normal for an Aspie, but it can be disconcerting for the other person. So here are some ideas on how to help others to be more comfortable when in conversation with you:
    • It’s best if you think before you speak.
    • Try to talk about them and their interests, not about you and yours. This helps to make you concentrate on listening to them, and also people like talking about themselves, so will feel good about talking to you. Make a point of taking an interest in what they say and in them as a person.
    • Try not to interrupt people, but wait until it is your turn to speak. This might be signalled by them looking at you while they wait for your reply.
    • An interesting trick is to try to hear one point that the person says, and store that up in your mind. Then later, when it’s your turn to speak, use that point to make it look as if you were listening fully. This isn’t deception; this is a learned social skill that can help others relate to you. For example, you might hear that the person is an Arsenal supporter. When it’s your turn to speak, you can ask, for example, how their defence has been playing, or perhaps if their striker is on form.
    • Learn how to be aware that you are boring someone. If you have been talking for more than a couple of minutes on your most fascinating subject, and they haven’t been able to get a word in, the chances are they will be bored. And, at that point, look at their body language; that is what boredom looks like! And then give them a turn to speak!
    • If you have a pedantic nature – and many Aspies do – then if they say something that your pedantic nature disagrees with, feel free to hold your tongue; you don’t have to refute everyone’s mistakes, and you are not going to change the world – or anyone’s mind – by saying something without thinking about it first!
  • As an Aspie, you will have ‘super powers’. They give you a view on reality that few NTs can see, if any, and sometimes, insights that are simply lost to NTs. However, you might not realise that they are super powers because to you they are completely normal. You can’t imagine that others can’t do the things you can do. Your super powers might be, for example, a heightened sense of smell or hearing, maybe a gift for navigation. One of my best friends, also an Aspie, has a gift for being able to feel exactly what his car is doing when he is driving, and his mind projects the best driving line on the road into his mind as a series of coloured lines. Blue line for safe, red line for danger, and so on. Discover your super powers! Rejoice in your super powers!
  • Keep your super powers secret if you can; this may sound crazy to NTs, but superheroes in the comics and the movies have secret identities – and that’s for two reasons: firstly, so the bad guys can’t use their friends and families to get at the superheroes; and secondly because if people know that you have super powers, they will expect you to use them all the time (“What do you mean, you didn’t hear the phone ring? You’re supposed to have super-hearing!!”). This way, you get to choose when and where to use your super powers, and maybe use them quietly and in an understated way so that others don’t discover them! And also, some people in Churches will certainly not understand and might even be suspicious of you. This is normal, because they may be afraid of something they a) don’t understand and b) can’t control.
  • You think differently from other people. It is very likely that God made you this way so that you can see aspects of Him that most others cannot see. Whether you choose to pass on these insights to others, or not, is for you to decide. But perhaps try the idea out on a trusted friend first.
  • In light of the above comment, this means that you will be able to see things about God that others don’t, and/or see things in a different way from others, and sometimes you might be afraid of being seen as an heretic or something. Don’t be. You have been gifted with insight that others don’t have; you can bring people things from God that others cannot**. God is so much bigger than any of our little man-made opinions, and He rejoices in your abilities even if others, through a lack of understanding, can’t or won’t. You may experience rejection because of this, even by – and, sometimes, especially by – other Christians. Remember at the end of the day it’s God’s opinion that matters, not that of humans.
  • Remember that you also have the ‘Mind of Christ’ and all the other aspects of the New Nature that Christ gives. You have the Holy Spirit, you have the assurance of His witness in your heart. You are just as much a New Creation as other believers; just because you are ‘different’ it doesn’t negate any of this. Don’t let others convince you otherwise; I have had people question my salvation status because of the way I think, and I was having none of it!
  • Remember to love yourself. If you’re to love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31), you can’t really do this easily unless you love yourself properly. This involves being comfortable with who you are, Aspie and all! 🙂
  • You decide as to whether to ‘come out’ as Aspie, or not. It’s entirely up to you.
  • Although being Aspie has some disadvantages, sometimes (but not always), these can be overcome with a little practice. Apply your mind to the problem. Try to develop coping strategies, like the ones in the paragraphs above about how to hold conversations with others. You will find that with use and practice, you actually learn to appreciate others and what they think, and this makes it easier to relate to them.
  • And finally, remember that being Autistic is classed as a ‘disability’. This can give you two advantages in the employment stakes: firstly, it is worth bearing in mind that your employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’; and secondly, you will also count towards your employer’s ‘equal opportunities’ disabled persons quota. And for severe Autism, where you need help to get along in daily life, you can get benefits to help with this. At least this is the case in the UK, at the time of writing; other countries may of course differ. There are links on the National Autistic Society’s website about this sort of thing; click the logo below to visit their site, where there is also lots of really useful information about coping with Asperger’s Syndrome.

*For those unfamiliar with Asperger’s Syndrome, or for those who would just like a bit more insight into what it’s all about, you can do no better than to check out the National Autistic Society’s pages on Asperger’s Syndrome; click the logo below to go to the first page (there’s a series of pages to look through but it’s all very informative)

autistic_society

**This is why some of my blog entries represent some quite unusual ideas about God and His Kingdom.


For my own background, I’d just say that I always knew I was ‘different’. All my life, I have learned to adjust to living life in a society where I was not understood for much of the time. We’d suspected I was Aspergic; I’d done some tests online (just Google ‘Asperger quiz) and I’d always shown as a ‘possible’. However, it wasn’t until I undertook a proper series of tests that I got my ‘diagnosis’, for want of a better term for something that isn’t really an illness. I was ‘diagnosed’ at the age of 50, and it was really a great relief to know just why and how I was different! And I love being Aspie.

If you feel you need to be tested for Asperger’s, or any other ASD, the place to start is with your GP, where you should ask to be referred for the tests. And don’t let them fob you off; you are allowed to insist, or if that fails, ask another doctor.

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