Jesus & Autism
Navigating being diagnosed with something like ADHD or autism as a believer poses challenges. On the one end, we have noticed the differences between us and our peers for some time. From being the weird kid obsessed with facts about trains or space to being thoroughly familiar with the principal's office for once again talking out of turn in class.
The church's response to us has existed in two extremes:
All diagnoses are demonic. You are healed or you need deliverance. Claiming a diagnosis is wrong and denies the power of Christ
"Isn't that sad?" *pats you on the head and asks you please keep the 'tism under control.
But the truth is, there are people who are different. I personally do not believe ADHD is a disease at all, but a type of human being meant to ideally live in the woods and kill with their bare hands for survival and not to sit in a classroom for ten hours a day, half of that day spent reviewing the info from the day before.
In the absence of a woods and bow & arrow lifestyle, homeschooling or an alternative school setup where the child can breeze through the required work in 2-3 hours and then spend the rest of the day building, climbing, starting clubs, scaling buildings, problem-solving, being creative, building weapons, or studying an area of interest is a perfect fit for most "ADHD" and autistic kids.
But when the desire is for a child to fit a system, any child who does not is labled and medicated or held back so that they do. The first time they had me on ADHD meds, I did feel calmer, but it was like part of my brain went dark. I knew I could get a lot done that way, but it was not me and not how I wanted to live forever.
Today after my regular church service, I listened to another church service by Pastor Jonathan Shuttlesworth.
I got in a bit late as my service ended toward the end of his livestream out of Fort Worth, Texas and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, but was tickled and delighted- thank you, God!- to get to hear him talk about autism. This was the first time I've heard a pastor talk about autism in a way that didn't imply we were all possessed by leviathan.
Once you're diagnosed, there are a million instagram pages, websites, and people who will tell you all the things you can't do, all the things you'll struggle with and it's easy to get caught up in the identity of a list of problems.
But the truth is: we are special. Not special ed (although a lot of us are- you're doing great keep earning those stickers) but special in that God has a life for us.
Here's the clip:
"Even if you do have a diagnosed disability, you're created in the image of God. What does Elon Musk have? Doesn't Elon Musk have something he was diagnosed with? *someone in the crowd speaks* He's autistic! He's the richest man in the world. With autism.
*having fake conversation with self*
'Oh yeah, my son's autistic.'
'Will you pray that God does something?'
'I'll pray that God turns it into Elon Musk autism and he gets super autistic about launching rockets to Mars and making millions of dollars.'"
Pastor Shuttlesworth goes on to say that he's not demeaning autism, which is obvious, but that he's telling us there is life outside of problems, sadness, victimhood, and everything else that comes with that because of what a doctor has said.
I was and am still so encouraged right now and just want to go and smash my goals. I know I'm not demon-possessed, as some well-meaning believers think. Autistic people, like any other, can be possessed and oppressed by demons, but that is not our default.
In the short time I have taken the gospel seriously where it talks about me being healed and having the mind of Christ, I have seen vast improvements in how I operate within this mind doctor's called impaired but it all begins with what we believe.
Do you see yourself as "broken, I can't be who I want to be, this world is awful autistic" or "mind of Christ, healed, here with a purpose, walking in power, Elon Musk/Temple Grandin/artist/builder/creative/engineer/animal lover/person with the capacity to love like Jesus autistic"
I am here to say that there are no limits for us.
What you are able to do today is not what you are going to be able to do tomorrow when you walk with Jesus. Once you know Him, you are full of His power by the Holy Spirit today and no label is higher than His name on your life.
Someone is already checking out, saying God doesn't help in that way. If you can watch Star Wars and believe in the Force, and how it helps force-sensitive people, giving them powers beyond their natural limitations, what's so hard about believing that God who is actually real, can do the same and more?
I am so encouraged and I want you to be encouraged, too. Our community needs encouragement. Too many of us die by suicide. Too many of us are addicts because we have given up and are tired of failing. Jesus loves us.
If you're reading this and have a child with diagnosis, get around the right people. It's great to feel sympathy, but sometimes it crosses into a perpetual "poor you" type of vibe. Find a support system that is Holy Spirit filled.
In your secular support groups, be a light to those stuck in darkness and hopelessness.
Jesus loves children and He loves yours, too.
As a child who knew she was different all through school, I wish I had been around people who told me Jesus had big plans for me. That I was not a mistake or broken but I may think differently from others and many brilliant people do, too. I wish I had been around those who understood the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that takes people higher than any doctor says possible.
If you're the one with the diagnosis, get excited because when you walk with Jesus, He does some wild stuff. A few years ago I had to carry around a pad of paper and special card with my name on it because I'd become too overwhelmed to talk sometimes. Now I don't. He had me rip it up.
I'm learning to listen to the Holy Spirit to navigate relationships in order to know what to say and what not to say. Yes, I'm still out of pocket at times but so was Jesus.
The Holy Spirit does what no medication could have done. He helps me stay responsible, not drop kick people who irritate me (emotional regulation), encourages me to be brave when needed, and has even reminded me to drink water when I forget for hours that one iced coffee is not in fact adequate hydration for a 24-hour period. Stay close to Jesus, read the Word, get in a Holy Spirit-filed church and watch the King of Kings take over.
It all begins with a relationship with Jesus. If you don't have one, fast forward to the end of the service and pray the prayer with this pastor.
You can watch the full message here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPUX244cMos&t=2s
Send me a message if you do.
God is amazing. You or your child is amazing. Don't give up. If you need any help, send me a message using the Contact form.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."