Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Spirituality and Aspergers

Aspergers and religion have an odd relationship.

There's a common misconception that all Aspies are atheists, either because we don't understand religion or because we're too logical, science-brained and Spock-like to have any time for such things.  It doesn't help that the obnoxious end of the atheist movement - the ones who aren't content to just make their own decisions about their beliefs, but then feel the need to harass and mock people who choose differently - does include some Aspies in its ranks.  But that's not because Aspergers and atheism are a match made in, well, heaven.

In my experience, whatever Aspies believe, they tend to be really staunch believers.  I don't think it's a co-incidence that some of the most religious people I've ever met, and the hardest hardcore atheists, have been on the spectrum.

Aspie and autistic pagans are more common than you might think.  I'm active on a large pagan forum where neurodiversity is very well represented and there's at least two other active members on the spectrum, and I've also met other autistic pagans in the course of random online conversations.

All this proves that we come in the same range of religious flavours, from militant atheist to Christian to minority religions to utter apathy, as the general population.  The distribution might be different - I suspect we  might have more people at the extreme ends of the range - but overall we're as spiritually diverse and varied as any other randomly selected group of people.

While we're talking about religion, I'd like to mention the very old and sadly not yet entirely extinct idea that autistic people don't have souls.  I don't know where this came from, but I suspect it's a hangover from the belief in "changelings", which is possibly an old folklore attempt to explain autism.  By tradition fairies don't have souls, so changelings, being fey creatures left in place of the stolen human child, wouldn't either.  Or maybe it's just some ableist horseshit.  Either way, it's perhaps the weirdest and most bewildering lie I've ever heard about autism.