Archive for the ‘Asperger’s and Autism’ Category

Miss Shining Star Beauty Pageant

January 6, 2014

What about the least of these? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. Today, I’m going to try to do something new on the blog and that is to add a picture. If it works well, I hope to do so whenever I do a book review. At any rate, I’m taking a little break from Book Plunges to write about what happened this weekend.

Saturday, my wife Allie was invited to participate in a beauty pageant for women with disabilities. It was the Miss Shining Star Pageant put on in large part with the help of Joni and Friends of Knoxville. Around 25 disabled girls participated in this pageant with ages from 4 to 34.

As readers of this blog know, Allie and I both have Asperger’s and that was how Allie entered. There were four categories. There was Tiny Shining Star with ages 4-7, Little Miss Shining Star with ages 8-12, Teen Shining Star with ages 13-17, and then Shining Star for 18+ and one overall Miss Shining Star. There was also a talent competition and a photogenic and personality contest.

As I watched the event I remember being marveled and thinking from an apologetics perspective about the least of these. It is because of the coming of Christ that we do have such compassion largely. Leaving the young to die in the time of the Roman Empire was something common, and that could be just for being female. It would be all the more likely if a female was clearly disabled.

We might say we’re better, but are we? I know a couple at our church who when they were told their child would be born with Down’s Syndrome was told that they had “other options” they could consider. No way. Not one bit! This life was a valuable life. Why? Because of their Christian worldview. They knew that this life was someone in the image of God and today, they delight in their Down’s Syndrome baby.

I watched this whole show go on thinking about how each of these people would in some way be someone who would normally be rejected by the world. There is instead a contrast to a position such as 1 Cor. 1 where the weak are the ones who are said to shame the strong. God has taken the lowly and despised by the world in order to showcase his glory.

Christianity tells us each of us has value as we are not because of what we do, but because in some way, all of us bear the image of God and all of us who submit to God will be conformed to the likeness of the Son, the ultimate image of God. God can take us and transform us, disabilities and all. The very aspects about us we consider shameful are those that He could plan to use to bring about His glory the most.

As for how the competition ended in case you’re wondering, I think it was wonderful. Allie was actually the only contestant in the competition who was married and got to give a talk about finding her one true love in the interview portion.

Apparently the judges really liked it.

After all, I was the man who got to go home with Miss Shining Star 2014! Congratulations to my wife Allie for being crowned Miss Shining Star and may she be an inspiration to other women who might have given up on themselves. You might be tempted to, but don’t think God has given up on you. You can still shine!

MissShiningStar2014Miss Shining Star 2014 Allie Peters!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Something Beautiful

April 18, 2013

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.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/6/2013

April 5, 2013

What are we going to the talking about on the podcast on 4/6/2013? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Some of you might have noticed that the time of posting for the blog has changed recently. I find it’s much easier to do the blog in the morning so that I have the rest of the day to myself and spend less time online that way. I have also since doing the Deeper Waters podcast every Saturday, decided to do the blog just Monday-Friday. Sunday, I just decide to take a rest to recharge.

I figured today that since I want people to know what’s going on on the podcast and have a reminder that they ought to listen in, then I’d start posting some on Fridays about what we’re going to be talking about on the podcast on the following day, especially since I’m booking a lot of great guests to come on and talk about relevant issues.

For those who don’t know, April is Autism Awareness Month, a topic I blogged on profusely last April. Most people who read this blog know that my wife and I both have Asperger’s and so this is a time of the year that we take extremely seriously and we want to show that on the podcast.

Recently, I was made aware of a book by Jacob Alexander about his son Joseph called “In The Belly of the Whale.” Joseph has Asperger’s and Jacob wrote it about the challenges that his son faced as he was growing up and why the condition of Asperger’s has not been something that Joseph has used as an excuse to give up, instead quite the opposite.

As you can imagine, that’s the kind of story that I like to hear seeing as I have the same mindset. I view my condition as a unique way I have of looking at the world and getting to relate to people. In fact, I agree with the opinion I’ve heard Temple Grandin has given before. If there was given to me an opportunity to have a cure for this, I would not want it. It’s become part of who I am and affects my mind in such a way that gives me a good edge on my thinking.

On tomorrow’s program, we’ll spend two hours with Jacob talking about his son. I had hoped to get Joseph himself on the program, but he’s busy preparing for something in his schooling and now is not a good time. Still, I have read Jacob’s book and I have a lot of questions I want to ask about his son growing up. I also plan on sharing experiences of Allie and I with Asperger’s that I think relate to what Joseph has gone through.

I hope you all tune in and listen tomorrow. While the Alexander family is a Christian family so this is a Christian story, I think learning about Asperger’s would be beneficial for everyone and not just the Christian community, although we are certainly a community that needs to learn how to love those who are different from us. Please tune in tomorrow then to the Deeper Waters podcast to hear about a success story of someone with Asperger’s.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jacob Alexander’s book can be bought here

The link to the show can be found here.

40 Years

January 22, 2013

Why do we oppose abortion? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Abortion has been the law of the land for forty years today. One of my friends strong in the pro-life movement tells me that as of today, 55 million babies have been killed by abortion.

Let that number sink in for a bit. 55 million.

Here for instance is a list of how many people live in each state: http://money.cnn.com/2010/12/21/pf/Census_2010/index.htm

The amount of babies killed is about a million away from the combined population of California and Florida.

It is about 3-4 million short of the population of New York tripled.

You could kill everyone in Texas twice and not get that number.

I live in Tennessee. The number of people killed by abortion is about 9 times the amount of people living in Tennessee now.

That’s a lot.

And why?

We are told it is in the name of freedom, but there is nothing free about it. It is in fact killing freedom. It is eliminating the freedom of someone else to live so that someone else can have the freedom to have sex or have a career or something of that sort.

Let this be understood. We know people have good reasons to want to have abortions. We are not saying sex is a bad thing. We are not saying a career is bad. We are not saying that financial security is bad. We are only saying one thing. We are saying that abortion itself is wrong.

The same people that will tell us that we ought not to judge will make a judgment about whether a baby gets to live or die. The people that tell us that we ought to be more tolerant refuse to tolerate the idea of bringing a baby into the world. Child sacrifice is still going on as human babies are sacrificed in blood offerings at the altar of political correctness.

I don’t care if that’s offensive. Neither should pro-lifers. It’s even more offensive that babies are dying.

I’d like to give my personal perspective at this point.

Readers of this blog know that I have Asperger’s. I don’t really hide it. I don’t make my blog all about that, but when I think it is relevant, I will bring it out. My wife Allie also has Asperger’s. I am thankful that neither my parents nor her parents ever once had any thought about abortion. True, they did not know we would be this way when we were in the womb, but I do not doubt for a moment that they would have acted any differently. We were their babies to love and cherish.

A lot of people would say a life like mine is not worth living.

Now I know there are people with far worse conditions, and the reality is, a lot of these people also have good lives. On my father-in-law’s Facebook recently, someone put up a video about someone who was born without arms and legs and is now a motivational speaker basing it all on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s also married and has a baby on the way.

Somehow, he thinks his life is worth living.

I get to live my life in ways I never would have dreamed had I just given up early on, because schooling was not always easy. For me, the possibility of getting married seemed like a distant dream. Now it’s an every day reality. I get to go to bed each night and wake up each morning with the woman I love and who actually loves me back and accepts me as I am, something I never would have thought possible. I honestly many times have a hard time believing just how much this woman loves me, and I really don’t think I grasp all of it.

I get to do a work that I love. I love apologetics. My Christian faith has always been important and finding out about apologetics got me to where I could use my mind in a way I never would have dreamed possible. I have a number of bookshelves here and with a new Kindle from a friend of the ministry, I have many more books to read. I get such a great joy out of learning.

When you leave comments here on the blog that are encouraging, I smile. When you want to debate, I enjoy it. When I see myself being quoted or shared, I just marvel at the thought. I can keep thinking that a lot of people would say that I was one that the world should have just forgotten, but it seems that God does indeed use the despised of the world.

My wife and I have an excellent small group at our church and we are thankful for their blessing. It is amazing how much love they have showered on us and yet, they all delight in hearing us. They are a group that we can truly be ourselves around. They now understand how we are different with having Asperger’s and it’s made us all the more delightful to them. We still remember well our leader saying “I would love to hear the conversation between you two on your way home.”

We have a cat. He is a Turkish-Angora mix that we named “Shiro” which is the Japanese word for white, and he is the whitest cat I have ever seen. When we found him, he was abandoned and had we not took him, he would have gone to the pound. We decided to make our home his and he is a joy to our lives. This cat whines more than any cat I have ever seen. It is a laugh for us every night when we announce that it’s time for “DINNER!” to see what one of my friends calls the “white missile” come running through.

I know not everyone likes cats, but that’s their loss. This little guy enriches our lives and when I look at him, I think of the wonder of the creator who makes all varieties of life and how that life is good.

Just now, I finished having lunch before this blog and that is something satisfying as well. I had fixed myself some grilled cheese sandwiches in a device we bought just for that. I have my Brita water bottle here for a nice beverage and even before lunch had had a nice shower in our own house that we live in thanks to the generosity of my parents. It used to be my grandmother’s house. After she died and we needed a place to stay, they readied it for us. We live in our own house with our own furniture and everything ultimately that we need.

We are blessed.

I don’t deny there are tough times. Allie and I still have struggles. Right now, our financial situation is atrocious. (If you want to know how to support what we’re doing here at Deeper Waters, please let me know) Because of Asperger’s, we do have issues that we are working on. I know I can be too obsessive and worrying at times for instance. There are many times I can do something to hurt Allie without realizing it because I’m largely rationality and don’t see the emotional side of my words. She’d tell you I’m like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory. (And that is another great joy of our lives. We try to watch that every night. I keep telling Allie it’s a series about four just perfectly ordinary guys and she never seems to agree with that.)

You know what abortion is saying? It’s saying that all of those goods that I have experienced should not be given to someone else a priori. Because they were conceived at the wrong place and the wrong time, we are to not let them live.

It amazes me that those who complain about the problem of evil often and how God will let innocents suffer seem to have no problem with the act of abortion where those who are the most innocent amongst us suffer the most.

Each human life is special and shows us something about humanity if we will let it. Yes. You might kill the next Beethoven or Jonas Salk or Martin Luther King. I’ve heard that before. That would be tragedy. You know what the real tragedy is?

You’d definitely kill a human and cheat them out of knowing the world and cheat the world out of knowing them.

That life is valuable because it is a human life and it is treasured because of that. It is a unique combination of the DNA of two different people that will never be again. Even identical twins are different in some ways.

The onslaught on innocent children has been going on for forty years.

Do your part. Let’s do what we can to make it not be forty-one years.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Society and Mental Illness

December 17, 2012

What are we to do with those who are different? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, we all know that some nutcase went berserk in Connecticut and decided the way to approach reality was to kill his mother, several elementary schoolers, and some teachers. Most of you know his name. I’m not going to bother to repeat it here. I personally think we shouldn’t even show his picture even and should instead spend more time thinking about the victims of a tragedy like this and their families.

Unfortunately, I’m not the one in charge of the media so it doesn’t go that way, alas.

Still, immediately after the news came out that this person could have Asperger’s, like my wife and I do, there were some isolated cases where people started making statements about people with mental illness. What concerns me most is that some of those are the same people who take the name of Christ on their lips and call Him their Lord. I do not doubt they do, but Jesus is Lord of the mentally healthy and the mentally unhealthy.

If we were being accurate at the start, we’d admit that we all have neuroses of some kind, even those of us who have never been diagnosed. There are some ways we are all unrealistic in our thinking. Blaise Pascal once said that if you take a person who is normally rational and suspend him on a plank of sufficient size over a huge chasm, his emotion of fear will start overriding his reason quite quickly.

One of my favorite shows is Monk about the obsessive-compulsive homicide detective. In one extra they have on the DVD sets, they started asking about neuroses of the actors on the series. One I remember is that one of them had a strong hatred of public restrooms. Many of us can relate to that. We can feel much dirtier after being in a public restroom. Some people might have a strong fear of bugs. That’s my Mrs. Some people really can’t stand blood. If I even start hearing a story that is bloody in any way I have to immediately put my hands to my ears and not listen. I can’t even stand seeing a paper cut.

Yeah. I know it’s not rational. Reality is you probably know some areas of your life where your thinking isn’t exactly rational either.

For some, this is a more permanent state. Now it doesn’t mean they’re without reason entirely. I would consider myself a very reasonable person for instance. I love rationality and I love thinking through an issue. Still, I know I have areas of my life where something is overpowering that reason.

In fact, just as I finished that paragraph, I had a call come from the living room that my wife thought there was a spider in there, which she has a huge phobia of to which I try to say “eight-legged things” instead of the word itself. Meanwhile, I go in and find out it’s a ladybug, which I happen to like and refuse to kill or flush. (Could be because I know they help kill other bugs. Could be because when we had a Colecovision, Ladybug was my favorite game on there.)

One show we like to watch together is The Big Bang Theory, which I tell my wife is about four perfectly ordinary guys, which for some reason she never believes. Everyone who watches it knows that Sheldon Cooper is a highly intelligent person with a brilliant mind.

They also know he’s bat crazy. (Despite his claims to the contrary since his mother had him tested.)

Why do I say this? Because mental illness affects everyone. Many of us have one and if we don’t, we know someone who does. I technically have one with Asperger’s, but at the same time, I doubt people would describe me as “mentally ill” in the way we think of illness. Some might say my thinking is off on areas, but they would not use that term.

Some people might take medications for this. My wife is one who does. Some might not. I am one who does not. Let this also be stated. People of the church have sometimes thought that medication for emotional or psychological problems is wrong. Stop it. There can be a problem with the brain just like any other part of the body. Yes. There are dangers with psychiatric drugs just like with most any other drugs, but there are often greater dangers without.

For those of us who are on this spectrum of having a condition, we must be judged on a case by case basis. We’re not all alike, just like people without mental problems are not all alike. I had considered calling this blog “The Church and Mental Illness” but the church is not the only one with a problem. Some people are looking at the mental illness as the cause of what happened.

If I was to point to a cause, as a Christian, I would simply say “Sin.” That might be too vague for some, and indeed in a sense it is vague. I do not know what was going on in this creep’s life, but I know there was something wrong for him to consider that this was what should be done. Unfortunately, the response the church can also have to people with mental illness qualifies as sin, and sin can often lead to more sin.

Of course, this is a factor, but it does not mean that everyone around you who has a condition is set to go off at any minute. Chances are, many people you see around you every day have some sort of mental condition and you don’t even realize it. I suspect most people watching me going through life who are strangers and don’t know me, don’t realize I have Asperger’s. They might see me as a bit quirky in some ways, but they just don’t make a diagnosis. I also don’t fault them for that. They’re not professional counselors. They shouldn’t have to. Now there are times that I am watching someone and I think “I wonder if they’re an Aspie.” My wife and I both do this especially since we have a keen interest in helping people in the field and want to do all we can.

It is odd that we live in a world that preaches tolerance as the greatest virtue, a virtue they get wrong by the way, and yet does not really begin to understand people who are different from them. Unfortunately, one creep like the one in Newtown will get the attention. It won’t be people out there, and I’d dare include my wife and I in it, who are actively seeking to make the world a better place and do whatever we can.

Keep this in mind. The person around you did not pull a trigger. They are not guilty of a crime. They cannot help that they were born with this condition. Yes. There are some behaviors we have to control because of the way we are born, just like most anyone does. Because I am born a man for instance, I can have desire for other women, but I have to control that desire because I’ve promised myself to one. What my wife and I often say about our Asperger’s and how we behave is “It’s an explanation, not a justification.” If we do something wrong because of it, there is a reason why we have likely acted that way, but that does not justify it.

If you are hostile towards people right now on the spectrum of mental illness, you also might have an explanation right now. You’ve heard about this idiot. The same applies to you. That might explain your animosity towards the rest of us, but it sure doesn’t justify it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters on Theopologetics

August 6, 2012

I don’t have a full post this time. I just wanted to let everyone know that you can listen to Allie and I on the Theopologetics Podcast. The link can be found here.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Extroverts

April 6, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Lately, I’ve been going through the experience of being an Aspie in honor of Autism Awareness Month. I have received feedback that this is being helpful to some and I am indeed trying to be as transparent as I possibly can. While most of what I’ve dealt with has been directly about us and our relation to the world, I am going to write tonight about an external response to us.

When I go to a new place, someone who is an extrovert can scare me. At a job I had at a grocery store, there was someone who immediately came up to me upon finding out about my joining and wanting to greet me and shake my hand and find out everything that they could about me.

It’s the kind of thing that makes us want to run screaming.

Of course, people can’t know this about us in advance which can be a disadvantage and I do realize some people are this way naturally. However, while we all must practice self-control about some personality traits, I urge you that if you are outgoing and very talkative that you do your best to avoid this behavior when seeking to minister to an aspie.

It is ironic what happens in these situations and the same can happen in marriages with a wife who is talkative and a husband who is more quiet and analytical. (Our marriage is not like that. We’re both introverts.) In fact, this could be a good tip for those who are in marriages like that. (Note I’m not saying that extroverts and introverts shouldn’t marry. By all means do so. Just like any marriage, be aware of difficulties. Two people can’t live together without them)

Here’s what happens. The wife wants to have a good talk with her husband about just anything. The husband doesn’t really want that at the time. He’s not comfortable with it. The wife will start talking and talking and the husband will get nervous not wanting to talk as that’s not his personality. This makes him be more quiet. Unfortunately, the wife when she gets nervous talks more. As a result, she talks more and he talks less. Of course, this could be reversed in most any case as there can be talkative husbands and quiet wives.

This is the way it is with us as well. If you come out being really exuberant and excited, we will just wonder what to make of you and in fact, not trust you. Picture it the way you picture a salesman who really wants to talk to you a lot. “What’s the pitch?” Does that mean we really think there is a dark ulterior motive behind your wanting to talk to us? No. It just means that we can’t understand that kind of behavior and it makes us nervous.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. To reach your friend on the spectrum, you will have to move slowly. That person is worth it however.

Being Nonverbal

April 5, 2011

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been blogging throughout April on Autism Awareness Month. I hope that this is going to open some peoples’ eyes to what it means to be on the autism spectrum. Aspies are often misunderstood and we need to remember that we’re in the image of God also.

Last night, I wrote on how we need to avoid small talk when dealing with an Aspie. This includes with family. I was even on the phone last night with my mother and she was asking if I was being quick in conversation because I was busy and I said that I was a bit, but I just mainly wanted to talk about something, which led to us discussing politics some, a just fine topic to discuss.

However, having said we don’t do small talk, in many ways, most of us prefer to be nonverbal. Someone from our church once asked my wife and I if we wanted to be door greeters there. For us, that was a thought that gives us terror. Of course, I don’t mean anything negative about the person who asked us. They did not intend us and I don’t have a problem with greeters per se. It’s just that for us, it is an extremely difficult position to be in.

Why? We don’t like to talk if we don’t have to. Now if there is a topic that we want to talk about, we will talk about it. Even with just the two of us, we can be nonverbal at times. My wife knows that she can best determine my mood not so much by what I say but by any nonverbal sounds that I make.

Answering more than that puts us in an awkward position as the conversation involving small talk is not our area of expertise. Based on the way we think, it’s extremely difficult so without the intention of being rude, our goal is to simply move on past that point of the interaction as quickly as we can.

I do admit that this is an oddity of us. After all, we want people to understand us the best we can without being verbal, when all the while we say that we can’t understand people unless they tell us what is going on and I can admit that that is something that I and other aspies like myself need to work on. For all of us, we need to remember that most of our communication that we do will in fact be nonverbal.

What does this mean? When the Aspie is quiet around you and not saying anything, that does not mean that he is not care. As one autism pin I’ve seen has said “Just because I don’t speak doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say.” It could just take time before your aspie friend will be able to warm up to you and talk. However, if it can lead to bringing him into the Kingdom, isn’t that time worth it?

We shall continue next time.

No Small Talk

April 4, 2011

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. For the month of April, I’ve been noting that it is Autism Awareness Month and seeking to give my readers a look at what it means to me to be an Aspie. I am hopeful that this will help us in being more aware of people who are labelled as “disabled” and better able to lead them to Christ.

Small talk is something really difficult for me. The idea of shooting the breeze with conversation just doesn’t make sense. Conversation I think is meant to lead somewhere rather than discussing my internal states necessarily. Of course, there are exceptions but even these I think are in the pursuit of truth. What is the right path for me to pursue? Why does my attitude to this situation say about my psychology? All of this is for the truth.

I recall a time when I was at a past job and was coming up front and someone asked “How are you?” I gave a non-verbal reply of some sort. The same was followed when asked afterwards “How did you spend the weekend?” The third question I was asked was “What are you reading now?” I immediately replied “Saint Augustine’s ‘On The Trinity.’ ”

This has several important facets for evangelism. In talking to someone on the spectrum, talking small will not be helpful to them. In fact, for me, I would be on my guard the whole time wondering who you were exactly and why it is you really want to know all this stuff about me. What difference does it make?

Another example of this was a recent time my wife and I each went to get hair cuts. Normally, I am quite quiet during such an event, but this time the Mrs. was with me and somehow, the lady cutting my hair started asking me questions about her. From then on, I could not be quiet as I went on and on and on about her and about how we met and just delighted in hearing how happy this person was about it. This was a subject that was of interest to me. Apparently, others knew how interested I was as when my wife was done one of her stylists said “Now go show Prince Charming.”

Thus, when you wish to talk to someone who is on the spectrum and who really is at the level where they are capable of verbal communication, is to somehow find out what they are interested in and be sure to talk about that to them. Someone can reach me, for instance, by talking religion, philosophy, games, Smallville, etc. Of course, you might not know something the Aspie is interested in that you’re communicating with. What do you do then? I’d recommend either seek to learn something about what they’re interested in or bring along someone else who has such an interest and let them do the job. Keep in mind that when sharing your faith, you are not obligated to be able to reach everyone. You must depend on others at times.

Small talk might be fine for some, but for some of us, it is a dread that we wish to avoid. Keep this in mind when dealing with those on the spectrum.

How Are You?

April 3, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, it’s Autism Awareness Month and I’ve been focusing on giving us an insider’s look at what it means to have Asperger’s as my wife and I are both diagnosed with the condition. Tonight, I’d like to look at the question that I can’t stand the most to be asked.

When we participate in small talk in public, one of the first questions someone gets asked is “How are you?” Now I do know it’s not just an aspie thing to not like this question, but I believe it’s particularly grating for someone who is on the spectrum. It has always been a question I’ve had difficulty with and when I’m out in the social arena, one I have to deal with the most. I’d rather be asked one of those questions Christians supposedly hate to be asked rather than have to be asked this question.

First off, when I’m asked this question, I feel like I’m under an obligation by the person asking the question to disclose myself in a way that I do not want to. That can be the case even if the person is a trusted friend. If I do not spill my guts on what is immediately on my heart, I can have a feeling that I am being less than honest in what I am stating. On the other hand, there are times that if I did state such a feeling, I am certain it would not be well-received.

Second, the question is vague. When someone asks me the question, I really do not know how to answer because my brain tends to think in only specifics. I do not accept vague generalities for answers. I need to know the connecting reason for something and if I can be able to quantify something, then all the better for that.

When I lived with my folks, I used to have this kind of problem. If I was sick, my parents would ask me the next day if I felt better and found it quite odd that I couldn’t answer that question. The problem for me was that I had no idea how I would quantify such a feeling. I can understand feeling good and feeling bad but I could not really compare feeling better and feeling worse. That’s still a difficulty.

My advice to the person in this case then wanting to reach the aspie is to not ask the question. The aspie could feel under an immediate social obligation. Instead, go and find out something that the aspie is interested in and talk about that instead.

Of course, I do realize that people mean well when asking the question, but it is still a difficult one to answer. In my case, I typically make some sound in reply that is really hard to understand, and most likely because I don’t even know what it really is. I just want the conversation to move on past that question to something that I believe can actually be talked about.

It might sound strange but hey, it’s the world of the Aspie.

We shall continue next time.