For my latest interview, I chose one of the members of my Autistic Christians group, Aisling Cornett!
- When were you diagnosed as autistic? I was diagnosed when I was twelve years old. My mom had read up on it and came to the conclusion that it was likely, so she took me to a psychiatrist. Psychiatry was a special interest of mine, so I was eager and fascinated.
- What was your childhood like? My childhood was “Christian”–sheltered, American, Southern, and emotionally isolated. No one understood me properly, including myself, so I spent most of my time retreating into books. I was ridiculed and excluded by other children, and my family mistakenly thought I was disrespectful , rude, and intentionally difficult. Nevertheless, my family meant well and introduced me to some wonderful books, movies, music, and food.
- How did you become a Christian? You told me you were a convert. I was raised in the conservative, fundamentalist church of Christ–an obscure niche of a group that was very focused on intellectualism and a literal interpretation of sola scriptura in about every way possible. They essentially had no spiritual experience whatsoever, and were quite legalistic. It was all about knowing bible trivia. I never felt close to God. I certainly didn’t know Him. Prayer was just a ritual you did so things would go well for you. I’m a very emotional person, and I was very unfulfilled, so in Middle School I turned to Wicca. I was a closet pagan and could see and commune with “faeries” and “nature spirits”, and I would cast spells to make things go my way. I was happy, but I also had undiagnosed anxiety that manifested itself in a crippling terror of Hell. This fear got stronger and stronger and was fed by things I found on the Internet about “end times philosophy and the “great tribulation”. I was terrified that I would go to Hell if I didn’t go back to some form of Christianity. I became a Charismatic and had a radicalizing, life-changing experience of the love of God as truly present and real. I tried to evangelize everyone I met at high school. After I graduated, I was looking for a church to go to other than my parents’, and I found a house church and an Orthodox parish. I kept coming back and visiting, and now I’ve discovered the truth of Holy Orthodoxy and have become a catechumen.
- Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Probably St. Stephen. His love for the Lord and others is so inspiring.
- Do you have a favorite biblical passage? Honestly, I haven’t read enough Scripture to have a favorite passage yet. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to pick anyway.