How to welcome someone like Christ - an #actuallyautistic perspective

Hello dearest readers, 
Here is something close to my heart and that I wish to share: how I find church. I have been quite open with my church in talking about some of the challenges I face currently and in the past. In fact I would go as far as saying church is one of the few places that does cause me issues and can trigger me, which is completely against the welcome that is supposed to be felt, given that church is supposed to be welcoming, loving and open to all. It has taken a while to build up to this and the last thing I want to be seen to be doing is criticising people, because that is just not what I'm out to do. Rather, show an autistic perspective on my experience of church and consider what we could be doing to extend the love and welcome that Jesus had for all to all. For after all, isn't church for everyone? 
As someone who does have social anxiety, it took me many years to walk into the open doors of the church alone. This sounds very odd for someone who appears…

What I wish you knew

Hello dearest readers,
So said title is quite self-explanatory really. What I wish you knew. I think as humans we throw around a lot of assumptions and we think we know a lot in comparison to what we actually know about people, irrelevant of our status, life experience, diagnoses (or lack of), possessions, etc. These all help us and guide us in our assumptions and inferences. Some information is hard to access, so an inference us our best guess and sometimes more ethical to consider what might be going on behind the scenes rather than base things on objectivity. However, it can also be dangerous in some cases to assume your own perspective and to imprint this upon someone else. Here I will reflect on a few things that maybe we all ought to consider:
My emotions are not your emotions Just because we have the concepts of 'happy', 'sad', etc does not mean we all experience them in the same manner and with the variables equating to the same emotions. It also means when we …

Happy 1st birthday: Attentiveness to Autism

Dearest readers, 
Happy 8th August - it has been one year since my minister and I embarked on a journey that neither of us expected: from how large this had grown, the need that I never expected would want to be fed (this grew out of a moan from me) and how many opportunities would come out of this. I had never planned to be running and teaching workshops, being a rotational panellist on the radio or writing a blog, let alone even running a service - organising from scratch and introducing everyone on stage - and being on the Methodist additional needs round table! This all erupted from one fly by comment I made on a photo on Facebook. Such great things I find happen rather coincidently and without me sitting down and doing a five-year plan (I don't even see the point in doing one to be honest). I find God tends to work with the unexpected so keeping an open mind is always beneficial, I mean, when I chose to follow God I didn't say fit in with my rules and pre-set plans. The …

Open to the community?

Dearest readers,

I hope this post finds you well and well rested after the weekend. I've had this title sat in my drafts for the last month now as I keep getting other more pressing ideas to write about. My best friend works in a library and from what I understand, some libraries are looking into what they can do to have their spaces more accessible, not just in terms of ramps and physical adjustments but also other things which are not automatically thought of as an 'accessibility issue'. I also know my local group of libraries are also looking at a similar thing. With all the cuts that libraries are under and continuing to face it is admirable that they are not resting on their laurels and are continuing to find ways to improve access to services and a love of reading and books to the community. I've not always enjoyed reading, but I did always used to enjoy visiting my local library when I was much younger to get books out and even now I enjoy visiting to use the lo…

Why we need to speak up as Christians

Dearest readers, 
I came across this small piece of the Bible shared as an image on my time line by a local Methodist preacher I am connected with on Facebook and it got me thinking again. 
'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy' Proverbs 31, 8-9
Being the overdriven person that I am that never switches off from work, this jumped out at me in terms of autism (which of course it would). I'm often on the hunt for things like this, small challenges to Christians and church bodies. I find some of the best challenges are not always aggressive or forceful, but from a fresh perspective that takes one back to reflect and think how this may be applicable. There is a time and place for both. I don't like shouting really anyway, it doesn't suit me (as I frequently get told) and certainly not in the church environment. 
Back to point in case above, this stru…

My hidden army

Dearest readers, 
I hope this post finds you well. Having now finished my final piece of coursework for year 1 of my MA (only need to submit hard copy and online) I treated myself to attending a conference at a university in London. The topic was autism and ageing - really relevant for one of the taught modules for next year but also highly under researched with increasing importance. I had only knowledge from my own experience as an autistic person so was looking forward to seeing what research has been carried out to date, what new paths are opening up and what needs to be done. I am also getting used to going to conferences so as to build confidence for the future with potential networking. 
One outcome that was discussed was that of some individuals (myself included in this) having a 'hidden army' supporting us to manage holding everything together - from things including washing and bills to things like problem solving. I am going to blog about my 'hidden army' i…

Equally treasured: story of the autistic loving God

Dearest readers,
I'm going to start a bit differently today. While clearing some papers up in nt room yesterday, I fell across some notes I had made for the youth group when I did an experiential session with them - bringing them into an equal, but different reality I habit in. I had also looked up and sourced some bible verses to give the presentation a Christian grounding. This one jumped out at me:
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer make it female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Think it's from Galations - currently on my phone and on a roll so will check later. This jumped out at me for a few reasons. Firstly I don't feel I fit in anywhere at the moment. I've always done my own thing and I've never been one to be part of a tribe or heard. For me, personal reflection is vital. There is only one person I am accountable to (that being God) so I've gone from being an awkward inept youngster to someone wh…

Tied up in knots

Dearest readers, 
I hope this finds you well. I have been very busy this week helping team lead a study over the weekend (finished 9 pm last night) as well as working on my case study and research project for my degree and dealing with a very exhausting scenario on social media which has continued to leave me drained today still. People are so draining and social media is just literally a quagmire of opportunities for misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions. Some may say 'look only at my words', however I must add in, even in my experience as an autistic person, I am very sensitive and do read into things. People confuse me, irrelevant of my diagnosis, and this is all people, including autistic people. It has always frustrated me that I can't give people an HDMI cable and they can't just plug it into my head and I can't plug something into their head. Context is so important - not just body language BUT ALSO background, what has lead up to these things, each …

Why does autism matter though?

Hello dearest readers, 
It's officially more than half way through the year, having finally having reached July. One contact of mine shared a meme with something along the lines of only 24 more Mondays until Christmas in the last week; I have to admit I don't get as excited about Christmas anywhere as much as I used to - I find all the hype so draining and I get so anxious about the major change in routine over the Christmas day and the build up in adrenaline really wears me out - it's the same with birthdays for me now. Minimal fuss is nice as I can stay closer to a more energy-cost-effective neutral where I can enjoy the small things properly. Ten years ago I used to like organising and celebrating but I guess as I've got older I've a) learnt to look after myself but also b) have less capacity for these 'spikes' and would rather focus on Christmas for what it is intended for (celebrating Jesus' birth) rather than getting agitated and get agitated and…

Why don't you do something then?

Dearest readers, 
After a busy and rainy day and lots of organising and sorting for my research project, I was browsing Facebook (as per usual) and I came across many speaking about the most recent Methodist conference. I think conferences like this are a great place to share and learn and also to be part of a wider community, but to also cement and critique our own viewpoints and the views of others mentally, strengthening and enriching our own stances. It then occurred to me: it's great that we have all this learning available, but do we actually put into practice what we learn? Can we see the opportunities in which we can use this knowledge and see how it is directly applicable to our lives and the lives of others?
One example is this: when I went to hear Tony Atwood speak last month with my mum, Tony was talking about sensory differences and in particular how if there are multiple noises in a room, some autistic people do struggle to (or in my case, can't) differentiate b…