May 17, 2007

Do Aspies Need Faith?

O.K., here's what I hear when parents and care givers get together:

Have you tried vitamins?
I hear vestibular stimulation can cure some!
Have you tried rolling on a medicine ball?
You should send your child for chelation!

Upon receiving the diagnosis parents and care givers switch into panic mode, and jump at things to cure or nearly cure their children. At worst they are engaging in action without direction. At best they are engaging in action that has short sited direction.

Unless our plans/actions are based on some kind of purpose and values we are going to be often frustrated and may even harmful. This might irk a parent or care giver who could respond by saying, "I just want what's best for my child!"

I would say something nice, but inside I would think, "No, you are trying to fix your kid. You are panicked that your child is disabled, and you can't deal with it." So, like all good Americans we just do more, instead of going back to the values position of our live's before planing what to do.

If you saw my talk on Four Square Life Planning you'll know what I'm getting at.

This is especially important for Aspies and others whose disabilities tend toward impulsiveness. Please read this very carefully: My faith and my identity (translation: values) saved my life. They were the reason I never committed suicide.

So, you've just received a diagnosis of Asperger or ADD or OCD or you-name-it, and you are panicked. You might not call it panic, but it is (at least a little). You may also feel anger. Those are normal reactions. Panic and anger are secondary emotions. They typically mask other more troubling feelings such as helplessness and guilt. Panic and anger will shift and change over time and they are looking for a quick fix. If you follow them, you will be looking for a quick fix.

What your Aspie child needs is for you to help them form a solid foundation in their lives that they can rely on for every decision. They need to be able to turn to something in every situation. So, what are they learning?

If things aren't working do more things to fix it.

That's what we do in America. What ultimately saved me is a solid faith/values framework in my mind that created important boundaries and guides to my actions and direction. I messed up a lot in life, but never completely violated the guiding principals that my parents instilled in me as a youth.

What do people with Asperger need? All the different therapies are good, but more than that we Aspies need a framework in which to live our lives. We need that structure so that we can understand what is right, wrong and preferential. We need a framework to guide our thinking so that we can make decisions about what is a valuable direction for our lives and what is not.

The principals on which I've based my life have changed very little. Often I have done a poor job of living by them, but they have gravity like the sun and pull me back toward them. How? I believe them to be true, and they were deeply embedded in me as a child.

The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." A closer examination of the original language reveals that the passage is not saying that the child won't violate or ignore the way he/she was trained, but the child will never depart from it. Regardless of what decisions I've made in life, the principals instilled in me as a child have never left me, and have drawn me toward them.

My parents began instilling these principals in me from the moment they could talk to me. At the age of four I made a faith decision to be a follower of Christ. I'm an Aspie, I probably could have done it age three.

I'm not sure how to end this one.

Maybe this. It is important to understand Asperger Syndrome and the various therapies that will help your child, but far more important is to understand your own faith and values and to clarify those or teach those to your child. If your child is old enough then the exercise is to help your child clarify them for himself/herself.

Faith and values will outlast any therapies and will sustain your child through the worst "hell" they may experience.



  1. Thank you very much Adam. My husband (not an Aspie) has been trying to instill a faith in my daughter (an Aspie), without much support from me (probably an Aspie). I now realize how important it could be to my child to keep her faith and to believe in her value (Admit, I have been the parent who runs around trying to find "the cure")

  2. You've presented a good point to consider, Adam; but it will not apply to everyone (since everyone is different in some way).
    I was a regular Church goer some years back, a believer even, after having vaccillated on faith and agnosticism a bunch of times during my life.
    It was good to attend. But for (obvious?) reasons, I never really connected with the nice people there. That bothered me some. I eventually stopped going when I remarried.
    Right now, I believe, but less than before.
    I have gone through suicidal thoughts in the past few years, where, looking back, I say to myself, I thought that?!
    Being back on medication (tried to go without) brings such things down to, at worst, a dull roar.
    It's possible that I'll someday attend Church again. But for me, medication, and life situations, have a big effect.