The Child Behind the Glass


As someone who uses Facebook, I see many articles about autism shared around, and often from an ableist perspective. One way to tell if the article you’re reading is going to be full of misinformation is if you see the image above. I hate it. HATE IT! Allow me to explain why.

First off, it conveys the image that autistic people are isolated from society. They are not. Yes, many are extremely introverted, or in some cases they may even be non-verbal. But neither should be a barrier to communication. There are more ways to communicate than with words: hugs, handshakes, giving someone a “high-five”, waving, etc.

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One Faith, Many Paths: Messina Lyle

I’ve been kind of slacking off with these interviews, but now I’m bringing them back. And to start off a new year of interviews, here’s my interview with my Facebook friend, Messina Lyle.

  1. What was your childhood like? Basically good. I grew up in and still live in my father’s childhood home.  It used to be a small farm before I was born, but at some point they expanded the city limits and so my family had to sell their livestock. When I was a small child my parents continued to grow vegetables.  Even when they stopped doing that, we kept all of our land–roughly five acres–so I’ve always been surrounded by nature. My childhood years weren’t always easy, though. Since I was an undiagnosed autistic, I struggled to find my niche within the public school system.
  2. Were you diagnosed with autism as a child or an adult? As an adult, less than a month after my 30th birthday. A friend from my church referred to a speech pathologist friend of hers who asked me some questions to get a picture of whether a diagnosis would be worth pursuing. She then referred me to the psychiatrist who officially diagnosed me.
  3. What is your denomination? Episcopalian. After having been unchurched in my mid-twenties, I started out by attending my mother’s boss’s Presbyterian church for a couple of years with my mother. For a good while after that I was active in several different faith communities at the same time and identified as “denominationally confused/challenged/indifferent.” These communities included my current home church (Episcopalian) as well as the aforementioned Presbyterian church, occasionally. The Episcopalian church was the first one I ever officially joined.  It was where I was baptized and confirmed.
  4. What is your favorite Bible passage and why? Probably Micah 6:8–“Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” It was foundational in forming one of the Facebook groups I run.  A friend who helped me form the theological statement of the group suggested we use it. Later I asked another friend to create a graphic based on that verse to use as a pinned post and occasional cover photo for the group.
  5. Who is your favorite biblical feature besides Jesus? Probably Mary. She was His mother, after all.
  6. What evidence would you give for God’s existence? The way that different aspects of science and nature seem to work together.
  7. Who in your life has helped you grow in your faith? My mother’s boss’s wife, who has been a close friend for two decades, as well as my campus minister from when I was active in campus ministry in graduate school, and a few ministers that I have worked especially closely with over the years. I haven’t always shared all of these beliefs, but they have all stretched me and facilitated my growth in one way or another, and all of these relationships have helped to form an important part of who I am.