Autism and Spirituality

Not long ago, I tried kick-starting an initiative on Facebook called “Autism & Spirituality'”… for anyone interested in reading more about others’ views on Autism & the God Connection – but I ended up having to abandon this effort, sadly; as I must have ruffled some feathers (based on some of the posts written in reply to my notions of this topic). So I’m beginning to understand that judgemental attitudes reign supreme in Aspiedom as it does with most NT’s. Stillman (2006) wrote a book seven years ago by this very same title… I still need to read it before I comment any further. However, my curiosity was piqued greatly by this review of his book: “This book is a must read, whether you love someone with an autistic-spectrum disorder, or work in the field. William Stillman describes a parallel process of discovering his own spirituality, while exploring the heightened spiritual connectedness of those he works with. The result provides a deep sense of hope and understanding that I’ve not experienced with other books on autistic-spectrum disorders.”

As a spectrumite, I’ve always felt ‘different’ — like you admit. Different from everyone else, I mean… But this became even more evident to me in early adulthood… when I decided to leave home for my first stint Uni in 1972. Off into society I went to win favour and fortune as suits the fantasy of most ― all the while, the redeeming possibility of intimacy with the world and a true loving of life diminished — a loss that gradually makes us all ill and sends us into emotional exile. The alienation I feared so much is the very alienation I ended up making for myself. Painful to watch (I’m told) and even more painful to be, a seeker after approval ― upstanding yet crawling, smiling yet deeply hurt; breathing and exhaling conflict, composed while decomposing. Above all, I rarely, if ever, felt like I ‘fit in’…

If Gerald May is right, we all live on a spectrum of sorts – the spectrum between Love and fear. But I reckon the antidote for fear is truth (wisdom) and hope. We ASpie’s truly sense that hope is good. True hope surely must arise from the innocence of the soul ― oth­erwise it’s just plain, old-fashioned wanting and Ego. Hope, as a spiritual condition, is what seems to matter most and this is a deeper thing. ‘Wherever there’s life, there’s hope’ may denote that hope is life itself, or the very spirit of life – the sparkle in the eye, the fire in the belly, the lead in the pencil, the life force. Eros!

Paradoxically, hope is known to thrive in adversity and improbable circumstances. But I often wonder if humanity is slowly losing its hope and if so, the vacuum is most likely being filled by wanting – a more vigorous and simple state of mind that is often wrongly identified as hope. Perhaps too much wanting actually kills hope, by displacing it, and actually takes life away. According to the vernacular, hope is so like an innocent child — it needs to be raised or held onto ― and not given up on, or lost sight of. I try very hard not to lose sight of my child-like hope.