What are some thoughts to keep in mind for Autism Awareness Month? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
This month, I haven’t written really on Autism Awareness Month yet, although it has shown up in the Deeper Waters Podcast, particularly on the episode of April 6th when I interviewed Jacob Alexander. He wrote the book “In the Belly of the Whale” about his son Joseph who has Asperger’s.
Last year, I did a lot of writing on the topic of Asperger’s this time of year so I figured I’ve covered most of it. Yet as I write this, I think about how a friend recently wrote somewhere about us having a ministry by Aspies for Aspies here and that it’s beautiful.
Now those who know us know that I’m the intellectual in the family. My wife is the artist in the family. I prefer to make a beautiful argument. She prefers to make beautiful art. We both prefer to be beautiful together. Both of us know the way the world can be and both of us know what rejection is like.
It’s something that makes our marriage unique. Both of us are surprised that they are not rejected by the other. Such thinking is a tendency that still has to be overcome. Old ways of thinking die hard. It’s with that kind of thinking that one can have a difficult time learning to trust someone else.
Fortunately, the way we are, we can better understand each others oddities. For instance, recently, I had to take Allie to a community center where she’s going to be taking a free sewing class. I’m the one carrying all her stuff and as we start to leave, she notices I have my eyes squinting. She and the teacher ask if I’m okay. I motion Allie to look a certain direction, seeing as when I get particularly nervous I don’t want to speak, and she sees that there is a dirty dish standing where I’m pointing, and she knows I can’t stand to look at a dirty dish. It’s like putting kryptonite next to Clark Kent.
Is that weird? You bet it is. Rational? Not a bit. But Allie understands it. In the same way, I understand the way she panics any time a bug comes on the scene. I can stand outside on our front porch with bumblebees out there and not worry a bit about being stung and she’ll be scared to step outside. It’s okay. I understand it.
For us, it can be difficult to do many things. We can be aloof in numerous ways. Each of us gets so caught up in our interests that basic housekeeping can be problematic. With each of us having obsessions, we have to work to balance those two together.
Yet there is a great benefit too in that we help each other where they are weak. For instance, if I am speaking too much in small group at church, Allie can put her hand on me gently and I know I need to start wrapping things up. When I think she is not catching on to something, I can explain it to her. After all, on the spectrum, it’s hard to know how things are experienced by outsiders.
Also, I find with her, I am more in touch with an emotional side. I can have far greater empathy with someone than I ever could before. For her, I find she is becoming much more in touch with a logical side. She’s seen me comment on a number of commercials as having bad arguments and has started seeing the way they work. On Easter Sunday, I heard her debating a small point with my own Dad and thinking that she did just stellar on her own.
We hope that what we have together is also a ministry in itself to other people on the spectrum and others that are disabled in other ways out there. It is possible to be loved and accepted on the spectrum and it is possible for Aspies to lead happy lives like other people. It’s possible for us to get married and have our own family. It does not have to be a life of rejection. The biggest limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves when we say we can’t do something.
We are God’s workmanship just like anyone else, Aspie and all. If anything, it makes our ministry all the more effective as we are the ones the world would look at and say that we can’t do anything and we need to let the “normal” (Whatever that means) people handle it. Why should we? We are just as much in the image of God as anyone else is and we are made to reflect Him too.
For us then, any success we have is not just ours. It’s a success for the entire community of people on the spectrum. It’s a slam as well to all the people in the past who told us to give up. As an example, I had in preparing for Bible College a piece of advice from the “experts” that I should not go into ministry because I could not handle public speaking.
I wish they had been there when I spoke to my college student body and professors which was around 1,000 people. Somehow, I handled it just fine. (If anything, speaking to that many people is easier than speaking to one stranger)
Also, when you support financially and prayerfully the ministry of Deeper Waters, you are agreeing that you are seeing something beautiful and you want to keep it going. While we do have an emphasis for people on the spectrum and those who are disabled, keep in mind apologetics, discipleship, and good marriages are for everyone! We want our neurotypcial (non-spectrum) friends to be blessed as well.
We thank the many people who have supported us throughout the years. To our critics, we ask you to wait and see what’s coming. We ask for those who read us to continue at least supporting us prayerfully and with your encouragement. It is a great blessing to us as we hope to bring you something beautiful.