Asperger’s and the Church

August 3, 2012 | In Church, Life

Recently I found a very interesting video from the adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University, Tony Attwood, from 2002. It was filmed by the ABC during a National Press Club address on Asperger’s Syndrome.

If you don’t know what Asperger’s is, you’ve probably encountered someone with the condition without even knowing it. Asperger’s Syndrome is classified on the autistic spectrum of disorders and may affect up to one in every 250 people. I’ve had encounters (and friendships with) several people with Asperger’s in recent years. Asperger’s often results in people being somewhat impaired in social interaction skills, especially in reading emotions displayed by others.

As I was listening to Dr. Attwood speak, and remembering my interactions with my friends with Asperger’s, it dawned upon me that it could be very hard for a person to fit in to a typical christian community as someone with this syndrome. Why? So much of church and christian community is based on relationships and sharing life together. This can be genuinely difficult for those with Asperger’s and those interacting with them. I sometimes found it quite hard to connect with my friends because they often found it hard to express their emotions and comprehend and sympathise with my own.

So much of our community of faith is made up of sharing our burdens and joys, strengths and weaknesses, good times and bad. I know we have a God who will build his church with people from all walks of life, with disabilities, with histories that some wouldn’t even imagine of, but I think we can do better at including others, and I ponder how we can reach people with this syndrome in particular. I certainly don’t have the answers, but we could certainly reach out to the doctors in our communities to understand this better, so we can serve and love these people who so often may feel left out and alone.

As Dr. Attwood clearly points out when talking about sufferers who commit suicide, life can be extremely difficult and lonely for people with Asperger’s. Let’s try and reach these people with the Love that can sustain these truly wonderful people and can enable us to build relationships with them.

You can watch the address by clicking here.

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