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Spiritual Autism

In past years I have experienced working or living near people who either had family members diagnosed on the Autism Disorder Spectrum, or in whom I saw symptoms of those behaviors. The media also exposes us to more about this disorder. For example, some celebrity families have championed the cause for research and treatment. Perhaps you have encountered someone at school, work, or in the community who seems extremely socially inept. They might be hard to maintain eye contact with or use strange repetitive body movements for self-stimulation or soothing (flapping hands, etc.). They also might fixate on one topic of interest or expertise, lack imagination or empathy, or be preoccupied with parts of an object.

Autism spectrum folks vary in their ability to function in society, with some unable to communicate or care for themselves. Rather, others may successfully have jobs, marry, or parent. People on this spectrum are often labeled or shunned as “lazy, stupid, stubborn, weird, or misfits” without solid known causes. In addition, they are often perceived as “lost in their own world” and their behaviors offer big challenges for those around them. However, advances are being made for treatment and understanding, especially for those who are diagnosed early in life. Regular, intense interaction with appropriate social skills and problem-solving is recognized as one path to growth.

What is Spiritual Autism?

One day in Bible study class, we talked about the possibility of Spiritual Autism. Some of us seem to get stuck in our “own little worlds” and unable to communicate with others about what God means to us. Or we separate from the community with the resulting lack of spiritual growth. Many of us seem to have been born with an inability to properly relate to God or to each other. Our earthly condition is one of self-centeredness. Often, we find strange or destructive ways to stimulate or soothe ourselves. Often it seems that people become obsessed or fascinated with one aspect of theology or Scripture. As a result, they miss the balanced beauty of God’s character.

Experiencing the tender, forgiving love of a Savior on a daily basis can heal distrust and anxiety resulting from and around Spiritual Autism. His grace grants us an understanding of the similarities of the human condition. He models for us the way to treat others with sensitivity. Also, His Spirit gives us empathy, imagination, and vision. As we heal, we are better able to love those around us. Scripture, prayer, community, and service are centuries-old treatment plans for a balanced Christian life.

If you liked this, you might also like Vaccines and Autism | Articles on Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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