One Faith, Many Paths: Trevor Justin Gawthorne

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This month for my “One Faith, Many Paths” project, I decided to interview one of the members of my Autistic Christians group on FB. Here’s Trevor Gawthorne from Down Under!

1. How old were you when you became Christian? When I was 16. I got bullied a lot over it.

2. What was your childhood like? It was all right. Most of it was decent. Eight years old was the last time I remember it being good.

3.When were you diagnosed with autism? Did you receive any help? I was diagnosed at 6 with autism and ADHD.

4. What is your current job? Unemployed.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Trevor Justin Gawthorne”

The Child Behind the Glass

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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.

Continue reading “The Child Behind the Glass”

The Death of Suzanne Wright

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I opened my Facebook this morning and discovered that Suzanne Wright, one of the founders of Autism $peaks, has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. I knew right away that I had to make a blog topic about this.

I am not sure how I should respond to this. Autism $peaks is an organization that is misunderstood by the press and vilified (and rightfully so) by the autistic community. Despite their motto being “It’s time to listen”, they have not once listened to the people they claim to represent. Their platform has always been not helping autistic people, but curing them of autism. They see autism as a disease. They do not wish to understand us. The only way to truly “cure” a person of autism is for that person to not exist at all.

Suzanne Wright started her organization because her own grandson was diagnosed with autism. She felt as though autism had taken her grandchild away from her. But that’s the thing–people like her do not realize that EVERY child is difficult to raise. Would it have been better if her child was born without autism? Not necessarily. Her grandchild would still have difficulties and struggles. And the child would have been a completely different child. Continue reading “The Death of Suzanne Wright”

The Fictional Spectrum: Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts)

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“I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand!”

As many of you know from my other two articles about Peanuts, it’s one of my all-time favorite comic strips.  My favorite character is Linus Van Pelt, the middle child of the Van Pelt family. In fact, I think he may be autistic.

Of all the characters in the strip, Linus seems the most intelligent. His dialogue is often prone to monologues. He will go on talking about any topic he is most interested in, especially the Great Pumpkin, baseball, or the Bible.  In the Christmas special, he’s the only one who still knows the true meaning of the holiday–everyone else is too wrapped up in the frivolity and consumerism.  In Halloween stories, he’s the only kid who believes in the Great Pumpkin, and the rest of the kids often ridicule him for this. His interest in baseball rivals that of Charlie Brown’s.

Linus’s biggest weakness is his “security blanket”. He’s rarely seen without it, often sucking his thumb while holding it. Perhaps holding it gives him comfort, like holding a stuffed animal does for some children. Whenever Lucy tries to break him of this habit, he will become anxious and panic. Lucy is the only person who even tries to separate him from his blanket. (Well, there’s Snoopy on some occasions, but he just does it as a prank if nothing else.)

Continue reading “The Fictional Spectrum: Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts)”

One Faith, Many Paths Special: Interview with…Me!

I’ve reached another milestone. This will be my 200th post. I’ve decided mark this occasion by presenting an interview with someone I will interview in the future and allowing him to ask the questions, rather than the other way around. I figured this would be a great way for new readers to know me better.

  1. You’ve been a Catholic all your life, and I know your faith is central to your life. Have there been times when you questioned? How did you handle that? I believe that if you go through your life as a Christian without once doubting yourself, then you are spiritually blind.  Yes, I’ve doubted. When I learned about all the atrocities that are often linked to Christianity, I doubted whether I should consider myself part of it. What kept me in the faith was that I reminded myself that I only have my own actions to ask for, not anyone else’s. God knows my heart. I also read up on the saints. When I saw all they did for the glory of God, I wanted to be a part of that.
  2. Your autism is another part of you. When did you first realize you were different–even special in terms of those around you? I think it first happened in high school. When I finally became mainstreamed, I never experienced a desire to wear a mask and pretend I was something I wasn’t. Then in college, my counselor told me and my mother that she thought I had Asperger’s. At first, It never really clicked. But my mother insisted that I do research on the disorder, if only to explain it to others. It was that research that opened me to the possibility that it was a gift. It also made me realize that God had possibly meant for me to spend all those years in Special Ed that I had spent for my bad behavior, especially my temper.
  3. A follow-up to that–what do you think is the biggest misconception about Autism and Autistic people? I think there are two. The first is that it is something that can be removed or outgrown. While it is true that some autistics can “pass” for being neurotypical, that doesn’t mean we’ve outgrown autism. It just means we’ve adjusted to what society expects of us. The second is that we don’t have emotions. I think this is often perceived because we often express our emotions differently from those not on the spectrum. In fact, there has been research that has concluded that our emotions and those of our peers can often overwhelm us, perhaps more easily than those not on the spectrum.
  4. What are some of your favorite hobbies and what do you enjoy about them? I am an avid reader, especially of science fiction. I think what’s best about it is that it allows me to escape from the pressures of this world. It allows me to unwind when I experience a world that is different from my own.
  5. How would you define your life philosophy–to put it more simply, do you have a personal motto? My motto is to always try to find the good in everything. I’m not always living by this principle, but I’ve learned there is good in everything that happens. If I focus on that, it helps me not to fall into despair.
  6. Favorite Books? I’d have to say the writings of CS Lewis, primarily. Not just his fiction, but also his non-fiction. His non-fiction is so simplistic. He doesn’t rely on purple prose or empty words. He explains everything about Christianity as simply as he can. He’s often been discredited because he’s not a theologian, but I don’t think that should dismiss him. I’d have to say his best book that isn’t connected to Narnia would be Mere Christianity. It’s a great bare-bones approach to Christianity, and I always recommend it to anyone who wants to know where to start with his non-fiction. Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths Special: Interview with…Me!”

One Faith, Many Paths: Sue Abramowski

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For this edition of “One Faith, Many Paths”, I am interviewing my Facebook friend Sue Abramowski. When I started joining autism groups, she was the first person to friend me. I always enjoy seeing her posts on my feed. She always has a positive outlook on life, and I thought she would be a great person to interview.

1. How did you first discover the possibility that you were on the spectrum?

I’ve always known I was a little different. I was diagnosed with ADHD, OCD and anxiety at 25. I don’t remember how, but one day I stumbled upon a blog titled Aspie From Maine. As I read the author’s story, it stuck a chord with me: I could relate to her on such a level that a light bulb went off. Could I have Asperger’s, too? I did a lot of online research and took quizzes, and they all pointed to me being autistic. My psychiatrist at the time wasn’t convinced, simply because I gave eye contact and “engaged” while talking to her, so I got a second opinion. I also realized that the same psychologist who had diagnosed me with ADHD conducted autism assessments! I got an appointment, and three sessions and a few questionnaires later, it was confirmed. On March 19, 2014, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (or ASD Level I on paper).

2. What was your childhood like?

I had a fairly typical childhood, despite not being a very typical child! It was suspected that something was up back in preschool. While the rest of my class was paying attention to the teacher and doing as they were told, I was off in another direction, doing whatever I pleased. I’d often go to the Little Tykes playhouse, or just do cartwheels on the circle time rug. I went to a psychologist at that time, too, and remember playing with toys as he spoke to my parents. He dropped the ball, though, when his wife had a baby and he took a leave of absence, as he never got back in touch with my parents. Something tells me that had I actually had some kind of assessment, something may have been discovered from the get go. Through the years, I was always a bit different from the other kids. I remember trying to play along, yet something just didn’t click. As I approached middle school and later, high school, the differences became more apparent. The other girls started becoming interested in things like boys, makeup, their appearance, and fitting in. None of those things mattered to me. I wasn’t interested in the least bit (and still am not, at 33!). As I got to college, I continued to do well academically as I had all along, and changed my major from Biology Education to Social Work after I realized where my niche lay. I received a Bachelor’s in Social Work in 2006, and have been working in mental health and developmental disabilities ever since.

3. How does your autism manifest? Do you stim? What about things like synesthesia?

My autism flew under the radar. While it’s definitely there, one may not recognize it until they really get to know me. I interpret things literally, see things in black and white, have sensory sensitivities, and notice the fine details. I do stim. For me, it entails fidgeting with my fingers and examining them, wiggling my legs, looking from side to side, and playing with fun stimmy toys! I also have to feel every fabric I pass by in the clothing store. I’m a sensory-seeker, and a very tactile person. I also have synesthesia! For as long as I can remember, letters and numbers have colors. It carries over into days of the week, months, and street names. Friday has always been orange, for example.

4. What evidence can you give for God’s existence?

The evidence I can give for God’s existence is that everything happens for a reason. He created me different, because He has a special purpose for me. I feel that this is to help others, especially those on the spectrum and with mental health issues, since I live with both. I’ve also had dreams in which I feel God has given me a “heads-up” for what’s to come. I feel that it’s the gift of prophecy, in a sense.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Sue Abramowski”

More Autistic Websites

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Last year, I gave you a list of autism-themed websites and blogs. I’ve decided to make a sequel of sorts. Not only will this be blogs, but also a couple web-based magazines and another YouTube vlogger.

  1. Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism–Probably the best web magazine for autism. Lots of great articles here.
  2. Proud Autistic Living- I’m Facebook friends with the blogger of this site, Richard Johnson, a native of Australia. He’s the founder of a Christian group called AU Christians, which I co-admin with him.
  3. Hannah Riedel- A vlogger I met in a Facebook group called Autistic Allistic Alliance. She has videos on a variety of autism-related topics.
  4. Respectfully Connected –A great autism-related blog. No complaints here.
  5. ASAN (Autism Self-Advocacy Network) –The home page for the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN)

Continue reading “More Autistic Websites”