Sunday, August 30, 2015

5 Things You Need to Know About Faith and Autism

One of the most common questions I get is about how people with autism understand faith. At first I tried to guess from my children with autism, which is hard because they are both nonverbal. Now that I have been diagnosed with autism myself, I have a bit more insight.

Here are five things to take into account.

Stephen Bedard
1. Every person with autism is different. This will make every list about autism. I am sharing some generalizations but saying "all people with autism are..." is as difficult as saying "all people without autism are..." So take the rest of the list as only things that I have observed.

2. Try to be concrete in your explanations. Jesus in your heart really does not help people with autism very much. In fact, you might as well get rid of all Christianese. Be a follower of Jesus is an example of a concrete image. It makes sense.

3. Some doctrines are easier than others. For myself, Heaven is hard to get my head around. But the resurrection of the dead (which the Bible emphasizes much more anyway) makes sense.

4. People with autism are vulnerable to legalism. Many with autism think in terms of rules. If a church has a set of unhealthy and unbiblical rules, this can be damaging to the faith.

5. Apologetics may play a role. Why am I interested in apologetics? I was studying apologetics long before I ever considered autism. Apologetics makes sense to me. It helps to see the faith in a reasonable and rational way. Don't dismiss apologetics because you don't find it helpful.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Autism Support Training Certificate Program

Do you work with people with autism, either children or adult? You may be interested in this certificate program from the University of New Brunswick. It can be completed in six months on a part-time basis. Make sure to visit the site if such training would be helpful for you.

Autism and Learning Infographic

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Friday, August 14, 2015

A New Perspective

I have been interested in and active in speaking about autism for some time. Two of our children (ages 14 & 12) have autism. It just makes sense that I would want to promote awareness about autism and provide resources on how to minister to families with autism.

I now have a new perspective.

Yesterday, I was diagnosed with autism. You can read my blog post on it here. Some people may doubt that I have autism. If you see me with my children with autism in a room, you would immediately see differences. I can communicate clearly (I'm a preacher, teacher and writer), while they are nonverbal. My children have "stimms," which for Logan is manipulating a block-shaped toy within a sock within some plastic and for Abby is pushing on the corners of her eyes or flapping her hands. I don't have anything obvious like that.

The most important thing about autism that you can know is this:

"If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism."

Even my two children, both severe and nonverbal, are very different from me. I have high functioning autism (once called Asperger's) and I have had 46 years to build skills to cope. I can look at people in the eyes even if I don't want to. I can choose to stop talking about my favourite subjects, even if I don't want to.

How will this affect me? It certainly gives me a new perspective on autism and how ministry to families with autism looks like. But in the end, I am me, with or without autism.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tyndale Research in Autism and Community Education

Tyndale University College (where I am a sessional lecturer) offers a special autism program called Tyndale Research in Autism and Community Education or TRACE. They do research into autism intervention and also offer an autism summer camp. I took my son twice to the camp and it was a great time. If you want to learn more about TRACE, go here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Happened to Asperger's Syndrome?

You will still often hear people being described as having Asperger's Syndrome, which was considered a form of autism but without the communication difficulties. There are plenty of characters in popular entertainment portrayed as having Asperger's.

However, Asperger's technically no longer exists as a diagnosis. Now there is only Autism Spectrum Disorder. This means people previously diagnosed with Asperger's now either are diagnosed with autism or have no diagnosis. You can find out more information here. You can find the new diagnostic criteria here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Humanizing Autism

This is a great video that reminds that autism is really about people.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Disability Pride Parade

I think this is an awesome idea. It is about time and I hope it continues.