What to Avoid when Looking for a Place of Worship

Content: Religious Talk, talk of cruelty and miracle cures, suicide, ableism

Now, I know that many of us autistic people are atheist. This is not for them, unless there is a place where atheists gather. I don’t know if there is.  For those of religious affiliation, sadly, the places of worship are filled with pitfalls of “autism awareness” and hatred. Miracle cures, ABA, prayer, the belief of autism meaning brokenness…this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to avoid concerning autism and worship.

If you sense a skew towards Christianity, please consider the fact that I am writing from personal experience. As we approach Easter, I am reminded that we need a ways to go in the church.

  1. Avoid places peddling “miracle cures.” – The church known as Genesis II still peddles that MMS stuff – basically drinking bleach for the unknowing. (Isn’t drinking bleach a form of suicide?) Do I really need to state that facing death is a risk of drinking bleach or shoving it up a child’s rear end?
  2. Avoid places who believe autism is a moral failing. – There is an ancient belief that any known health problems is a punishment from the Almighty. This is often a fallacy promoted by what is known as the Prosperity Gospel. “If you believed, your child would not be autistic.” Well, that is definitely not a tenet of Christianity, which is my belief system. Jesus did state in the Bible that “In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I am focusing on the first statement for now, because I believe it to be true. No amount of belief is going to change the fact that you will have trouble.
  3. Avoid the anti-vaccine place of worship. – This goes without saying. If you can prevent the spread of anything with a shot, go right ahead. It is God’s way.
  4. Avoid the Hypocrite. – In the church, we call them Pharisees. Simply put, they look good in the pew, but there is little evidence of following their faith outside their place of worship. Pharisees were even called “whitewashed tombs,” meaning they look good on the outside, but inside they are full of death. Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid them in any church.
  5. Avoid the Graceless. – There is a parable in Christianity in which a man was forgiven a large debt, though did not forgive another man a debt against him. In short, the larger forgiveness was canceled. Do I even need to explain the pain of holding a grudge?
  6. Avoid those who will not accept you. – This is what I dislike about the Church of Scientology. In the case of John Travolta is literally took a judge asking him under oath for him to admit his son Jett was autistic. And by then, Jett had died. What kind of church is so cruel that it rejects autism’s existence? You may need to educate on Autism Acceptance to the place of worship, but if they accept the teaching of Autism Acceptance, stay. Do I even need to explain the pain of rejecting people with real problems? The church is a hospital for sinners, not an elite club for saints.

In short, a church that only accepts the perfect and those without problems is empty. If they will not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and go find another one.

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“Mom, Can You Schedule a Colonoscopy for Me?” Snowplow Parenting and the Autistic

Now, let me give you some background: A person who needs a colonoscopy scheduled is usually around 50 years old. By that time, it’s a good bet their parent needs care themselves, if not already dead. That is often the problem with autistic people: their parents worry a lot about who will care for their child when they die. I’ve got a radical idea: why not prepare the autistic child to be capable of caring for themselves?  

Now, I know what you are saying: there are autistic people who still need 24-hour care. Perhaps you could teach and schedule somebody to trust with your child in that case…but I’m not talking about that case. I’m talking about an autistic person who can be taught to care for themselves. If you teach them to access community supports out there, and be their own advocate in a hateful and prejudiced world, you might not have to be the usual Snowplow Parent.  

I referenced Snowplow Parenting earlier, because it is common in parents of autistic children. Snowplow parenting is the parenting style that does everything for the child, moving all obstacles to success out of the way, like a snowplow. The trouble with that is, the child emerges into adult age unable to deal with obstacles themselves, needing the parent to care for them throughout their life, even when the parent needs care themselves. Now, many autistic adults have had to learn to “adult” as adults. That, my friends, is much harder to do than learning how to take care of yourself in childhood. You’ve heard the saying, “It is easier to raise a strong child than repair a broken adult,” right? It’s a saying for a reason.  

Captain Marvel: Chicken Soup for my 90s Feminist Soul

Now, I know autism and/or vaccine news has been bleak lately, with anti-vaxxers and disease outbreaks, plus Autism Awareness Month coming up… I felt so much like a monster, I needed to get away from it for a while. So, I went to the movies.  

For those who do not know, I am 41 (until July 17). This puts me squarely in Generation X. So, any movies with music from the 90s has got to have good grunge in it. And boy, did Captain Marvel deliver. Good, female-led 90s music was aplenty. From Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt, we rock it alongside Nirvana.  

That, however, is not the only reason I will cheer for Miss Fire Hands. She’s ridiculously powerful, and alter herself to fit the facts. (That’s all I will say; no one likes a spoiler.) Plus, she is the adoptive mother to Goose. (Did you think I’d leave Goose out of it? You don’t know me very well.)  

Goose is revealed to be a Flerken, a highly dangerous creature that resembles an orange tabby housecat. I won’t get too much into what a Flerken is; it’s hard to explain. (SPOILER ALERT: tentacles are involved.) Sure, she’s cute, but she’s also powerful. I think it’s funny that Goose is played by orange tabby cats most of the time; most orange tabbies are male. Also, for some more information about Flerkens, look up Chewie in the Marvel Wikipedia, as well; that is the character’s original name.  

I’ve also noticed there were a lot of haters for Captain Marvel; I suspect they adhere to toxic masculinity. That’s all I will say about that. In a world where Wonder Woman only got a movie two years ago, and Black Panther got his last year, that is to be expected. I’ll just throw their hate into a specialized cylindrical file called a trash can. 

In a world where autistics and women are told they are monsters, it is refreshing to see that hope and help can come from the most unexpected places.  

Why Fight the Label?

Well, a few things came up. The first was this picture. 

Here are a few others you might be familiar with:  

Freak, Nerd and Rape Victim 

Yes, even Rape Victim. Every autistic woman I know has been raped at one time or another, even myself. My own experience is in the gray area, because I only consented to avoid saying I was raped. But on to the point: Your child will get a LABEL anyway. Make sure it’s a label that actually gets help.  

Another was the latest episode of Mom. It’s February 21, 2019. The title character on Mom (Bonnie Plunkett) learned she had ADD. And she’s in her sixties. And she’s fighting being sober from various drugs (and alcohol; I lump it in among the others). She had said her life was harder without the diagnosis. I must say, my life was hard, but living without a label, a diagnosis, is harder. And why do you want that for your child?  

#TimeToTalk Day 2019

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” -Chinese Proverb  

Well, they are using this hashtag on Twitter right now to talk about mental illness.  

So, what do tree planting and talking about mental health have to do with each other? Well, for starters, there is a lot in common, as stated by the old proverb. Can you go back in time? Not that I know of. But can you start talking about mental health, plant that proverbial tree, now? Of course. 

Let’s talk about some myths: 

  1. “Mental illness has some rational beginning, and is reactive.”  Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. As I have stated before, even people on top of the world have mental illness to deal with. Robin Williams, for instance.  
  2. “Mental Illness only affects the people who act or look a certain way.” Would you be shocked if, and I am only saying if, Guy Fieri had depression? I would not. The losses of the once-strong Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain should have shaken that out of your mind.  
  3. “Mental Illness is character weakness.” This comes from the belief that you earn health and wealth through finding favor with your chosen deity – known in some circles as The Prosperity Gospel. But what happens if, say, you get a mental illness? Does that mean you are not good enough?  This false notion about mental illness believes you are not good enough… 
  4. “Mental Illness can be cured with willpower, vitamins and exercise.” Sorry, Tom Cruise, but this is simply not true in many cases. Denying the sufferer the medicine, the very thing that provides relief, is cruelty.  
  5. “Mental illness prevents you from holding down a job.” I HELD DOWN A JOB AT IN-N-OUT FOR SIX YEARS! Sorry for the shouting. This is simply not true. It is a corollary of the “character weakness” myth.  
  6. “Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why not just take a pill?” Because much of the time, “taking a pill” is only a start. Many of us need a support system.  
  7. “I can’t help.” Many, many people need your support. Just being there for them makes a big difference. It did with me.  
  8. “Prevention is impossible.” Ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The core of it is TRAUMA. That is one of my own mental illnesses, thanks to people in my family.  

Mental health is coming out of the woodwork with or without you. It is connected to physical health as well. People are tired of losing their loved ones to suicide.   

Can an Autistic Person Change a Tire?

Why, yes, Karen, they can. While it’s not necessary for an autistic person to prove themselves this way, it’s a good skill to know.

I did not know if I could change a tire without help. Sure, I would start, but somebody (usually a man) would always help. While I appreciate the chivalry, it does not help in the knowledge department. Anyway, as of 6:15 this evening, I learned I could. From fixing the jack (took 2 tries), unscrewing the lug nuts, taking off the flat tire, putting the spare tire on, and reapplying the lug nuts… it was not too hard.  

You want to know what the hardest part was? Not the lug nuts. It was aligning the spare on the axle. But of course, it was getting dark, so maybe it is usually not as hard as it would have been in the daytime.  

Sometimes you’ve got to toot your own horn.

New Year’s Eve at Home: A Perfect Scenario

Well, the Christmas decorations are put away, the patio door is unblocked again, the TV is back in its regular spot, and the front lawn (if you can call a small patch of grass that) is bare again. We’re back to normal, and I survived the cleanup. Strange how fast it all comes down.  

Now, on to New Year’s Eve. Honestly, I never knew how well I had it celebrating at home alone. No crowds of people, no loud and obnoxious bar patrons, and if I want a drink, I can get one myself. Also, no dressing up, no worries about how it looks on Instagram, and I can stay home with my dog, Bear. Bear will give me a kiss at midnight, so no worries. And if I don’t feel like staying up that late, I don’t have to – but it’s pretty normal for me.  

Shout out to my fellow New Year’s Eve homebodies!