Church Rejection

Church and Autism Many Asperger families feel rejection from their church family.   Unless folks have an Aspie they really can’t understand.  We feel the rejection when the girls are left out of things.  We see and hear of the young people their age doing fun things together but often they “forget” to invite my girls.  Peers that grow up together in a church family often form little cliques.  Not picking up on social cues my girls just never seem to “fit in” with the cliques.

One of the ministries of the church is outreach, not just to the heathen in foreign lands but to the hurting and rejected at home.  These kids look so normal and sometimes they can act pretty normal so it’s hard for others to realize they aren’t just being difficult.  I’ve tried to share with some of the church adults about Aspergers but sometimes I get the feeling they think I’m just using that label to excuse some of their behavior.  Raising Asperger children can be a lonely job! 
 
When my girls go to social functions you can see them standing alone in the crowd while others their age are laughing and having a good time.  They used to want to be a part of the group but didn’t know how.  After so many times of feeling “left out” It’s getting to where now they don’t  want to go to social functions.  I can understand!  At church they sit back with the young people but after church I see the others getting in their little cliques and my girls are once again left standing outside of the group looking rejected. and being ignored.  It’s draining!  One Asperger mom suggested that they eventually had to “redefine” church.  That “church” can be a walk in the woods and a prayer” which is much more peaceful than going to church Sunday after Sunday to experience rejection.
One of the things that helps us is, I have a friend from another church who has an 18 yr old son with severe seizure activity.  My girls have befriended him in a good way.  He’s immature for his age due to all his seizure activity.  He can’t be out of his parents sight because of his often falling form of seizures.  So he and my girls have a good (safe) phone relationship.  The social interaction between them and this friend is invaluable. It does me good to hear them laughing and having fun over the phone
Another way we meet our social needs it that every couple weeks we have a little Bible Study group meet in our home.  We have a pitch-in meal then sing together and fellowship around the Bible the rest of the evening.  Very informal. We invite everyone from any denomination who wants to come and every time we host we end up with a house full from anywhere to a dozen to over 40.  The family I mentioned that has the 18 yr old son, always comes, and we allow our girls and their son to set up a table back in the girls room to eat together because the “confusion” of the large crowd is too much sensory for my girls.  The door is left open and they play board games and have a lot of innocent fun which fulfills their social needs while my husband and I get to interact socially with other understanding adults.  It’s a great arrangement and everyone’s social needs are met.
The computer and an e-mail Asperger Support Group is another way of meeting the social need of us Asperger moms!

Are you a member of a support group?

 

Guest Submitted Post

Guest Submitted Post

Join Autisable and Share Your Story!

0 thoughts on “Church Rejection

  • June 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm
    Permalink

    The Lord Jesus says; “When two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am also”. That is how “Church” began. He taught and preached under the wide sky, spoke of birds and flowers, sheep and growing things. Church has become something so artificial and worldly. So find Him out there now. What you have is beautiful and true. And will renew and strengthen as it is meant to. Blessings this night from Ireland.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm
    Permalink

    My son, turning 8 in a few weeks, is Asperger’s. My son loves to pray, believes in God and we discuss why he isn’t like everyone else. His classmates make fun of him, we’re used to it. My son chooses to tell the kids that God loves variety and that’s why he is different.

    I don’t expect the whole of society to accept my son or fall over themselves to be nice to him. I do, however, expect a small amount of civility. I find it funny how previous posters who have no clue what that life is like to explain it away and get it away from them quickly.

    My son has had teachers that don’t want him in the class. He is loving, eager to please and vocal about things. That’s fine. Quick letters to the superintendent and advising to put my son with a teacher that wants to do their job has worked fine for us.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 12:21 pm
    Permalink

    I have a ten year old brother with Aspergers. My father is a single parent who works a regular full time job, that usally requires for him to work at home to.  so I usally find myself looking after my brother. He goes to church every wednesday and he seems to have fun,  the kids at his church are very open and aceepting,,  and are punished usally when not.   The neighborhood kids are a different story though.   I find myself watching them constantly when my brothers around. One day he came home crying because a boy tried to steal his soccer ball, and another day he was upset because a boy called him retarded..   I try to stress to people that my brother is one of the smartest kids i know..    it’s hard though.  :/ it all upsets me really.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 10:15 am
    Permalink

    For the most part, I’m proud of my youth group for their acceptance of others, except for their acceptance of a boy named Nick.  He has cerebral palsy and is also mentally below his peers, and no one will have anything to do with him.  Most of the girls are nice to him and try to talk to him, but the problem with that is any time a girl even talks to him, he starts to like them and asks them to be his girlfriend.  He also gets very touchy and makes the girls uncomfortable.  The boys, however, have no excuse.  They completely ignore him, and it makes me so angry.  His sisters are the worst, though.  They basically hate him and encourage everyone to ignore him.  I think they’re jealous of any attention that he gets. 

    That being said, there was also a boy named Benjamin who was my youth minister’s nephew.  He lives in a different state, but visits occasionally.  While he has no mental disorder, his parents are extremely controlling, home-school him, and don’t let him have any social interactions.  Basically, he is not allowed anywhere without them, except the occasional times he is with our youth group.  Needless to say, this has made him very strange and completely incapable of interacting in normal social environments, but our group loved him and completely accepted him.  I don’t know what the difference is with Nick and Benjamin, but its a totally different situation with them.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 7:40 am
    Permalink

    Church cliques pretty much turned me off when my son grew up. He didn’t have Aspergers but was ADHD and very vulnerable towards other’s influences. Some children persuaded him to go to the girls’ dorm and rifle thru the suitcases until he found a certain item. Then they told him that the girl would like him. When he was caught we had to go retrieve him from church camp. His step dad was furious and embarressed. I wanted to tell the counselor…. just handle it…. no one is perfect in their little world. That’s when I realized that church groups have a code of acceptance and anyone who didn’t fit in, just did not fit in.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 12:28 am
    Permalink

    But, and here is the crux, even if the church was completely open to your child, this is not how the world works, despite how much many people would want otherwise. I just taught a boy with aspergers at the college level. The other students in the class were extremely scared of him for the first three weeks.

    In my case, thankfully, my office mate has a child who has aspergers so I was coached on how to teach him and more importantly, talk to him. Sadly for him, he probably wont make it in the artworld. He is talented but one of the biggest things that loses you jobs is attitude and he snaps easily and growls out opinions.

    I finally started liking him at the end. I think there are two keys: 1. Give the kid the chance. 2. Educate people on what it is and how to understand a person with aspergers.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2009 at 12:12 am
    Permalink

    I love this post. I didn’t even know this branch of the community existed until just now, and that’s totally awesome!

    I hadn’t the slightest clue what Asperger’s was until I watched a movie about a month back called Mozart and the Whale with Josh Hartnett. I don’t know how accurate that movie was about this form of autism, but it really opened my eyes to things I hadn’t quite understood about the different forms of autism before.

    I honestly don’t think people in the church are trying to leave your kids out. They’re just not trying to include them. I don’t know if that’s better or worse, to be honest. I’d take solace in the fact, if I were in your shoes, that they probably weren’t doing this sort of stuff to be mean…They probably just don’t know how to deal with things as well as you do.

    You’re their mom, and you’re going to understand them far better than anyone else will…aside from other people with Asperger’s, maybe. You’re right, they probably won’t understand because they don’t have autistic kids of their own, and that’s unfortunate.

    I hope everything goes well for you and your family. Much love and best wishes. 😀

    Also @YouKnowI@xanga – Wow. Be a bit more insensitive, why don’t you? She’s only saying that she acknowledges that her children are hard to understand, and that people won’t understand unless they have their own.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm
    Permalink

    I love your idea, although I am saddened at the circumstances that caused you to have to implement your home bible study, but when two are more are gathered in his name, he is there, so church is where you choose it to be.  Great job, keep adapting, overcoming, and improvising, your children are blessed to have you as their mother.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm
    Permalink

    “Unless folks have an Aspie they really can’t understand.” Maybe you should make your own Asberger community/religion/belief/country/etc.etc  No one will willingly have children with that disease and you shouldn’t expect them to.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm
    Permalink

    Yeah, I have witnessed first hand how the modern church can get clique-ish. I’m usually standing around alone at Youth Group. Not really because I’m unpopular (sometimes, though, I’m the last person they want to see XD ), but because I do not have a clique to be a part of. My younger brother has mild asberger’s syndrome, and finds it extremely hard to socialize. Honestly, all his male siblings (our older brother and I) were socially unable to connect with other people (we’re extremely odd) but it’s on a whole new level for my little brother. Even we had our tight friends (not many at all, but they were sincerely close) but he has basically no one like that. He is also often ignored at church by the boys his age and adults simply don’t understand him.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm
    Permalink

    At this point, I am the only person in my family to attend church. However, I have a severe Asperger’s sister, and when I have taken her to youth group, she has been rejected time after time after time. So, I just don’t invite her anymore because it’s just one more place for her to get hurt. It is sad, however, since I want her to grow in the Lord and she doesn’t really have that opportunity. I mean, kids will be kids, and maybe it will change when she’s older, but I dunno. It is hard. I understand. Obviously not from a mother’s perspective, but I know it’s difficult.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 11:53 am
    Permalink

    I went to a neurologist after being referred by an educational psychiatrist. They first believed me to have Aspergers, but upon further examination, I just have ADHD, Depression, and Anti-Social Tendencies (which probably stem from constant bullying and taunting). I have a friend who has a brother with Aspergers.
    I always tend to shy away from social gatherings, I’m rarely ever invited to places. When friends have parties, they never invite me. My friend (or so I thought) Kayla, always has her friend Rachel over to her house, like ALL the time. I’m never invited, unless I need to give her a ride to school/band practice. My friend Ashley, I normally just go over to her house, knowing she wouldn’t care… and her mom doesn’t get home till like 7pm (I just have to let her know I’m coming).
    Back onto topic, I was diagnosed at the beginning of my 8th grade year, and I just finished my Junior year in High School (today was the last day!!). I’ve constantly felt rejection from peers and friends… even teachers. If I look depressed, no one comes up to ask if I’m ok. Teachers walk by and while I’m drawing dark pictures of death… and it doesn’t even fase them to just ask how I’m doing. Sometimes I just want someone to say hi, or give me a hug.

    But I do give advice. Say hi to everyone, because you never know who might be having a bad day, and just wants someone to notice.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 11:27 am
    Permalink

    Have you talked to other parents about your kids not being part of the group and wanting more playmates for them? Perhaps they’ll be more understanding if you have a heart-to-heart with them. I bet there are places that do social events for kids you could take the girls to. I can only imagine the hardship and joys of being a parent of children with Asperger’s.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2009 at 11:16 pm
    Permalink

    @abilene_piper_lg@xanga – Well, having directly interacted with a number of double PhD’s and knowing a TOP top mathematician personally, I have yet to run into one who makes a point of atheism, and Jehovah isn’t the only God believed in by some of them.  Many of us question, sure.  I attempted atheism myself.  I simply found it illogical that there is no such thing as a higher being than what we are, and that humans have never been interacted with from beings outside of this planet, and that quadrillions of us since the beginning of human history have gone along with a big sham.  I think you’d be surprised how many high IQ people actually go to church, but since I don’t see that counterpointed in that article (and it coming out of London), it’s not meaning a whole lot to me.  I’ve had 3 rigorous stats classes.  Show me a list of names and the actual percentage of real scientists all over the world and all the countries they are from, and you’ll probably find atheism by sheer numbers comes more out of culture bias than anything.  Asians make up a third of the world’s population, some scientists and mathematicians I’ve met from India still believe in Shiva, and I could go on.  One more thing we need to remember– high IQs are not a modern phenomenon.  Ben Franklin is a bit of an exception with his very verbalized atheism, but he was in the middle of the birth of the age of enlightenment, a philosophical view that grew up during industrialization.  Newton was not an atheist.  There is a whole lot of controversy over the impossible structures around the world from the pyramids to Mayan buildings to Stonehenge to Nazca lines, point being either there was intervention in the human race, or some people back then also had some very high IQs.  Even the Druids worshipped something.  So a survey of higher IQ scientists done in England only compels me to ask if you’ve ever read That Hideous Strength, first published over 60 years ago by a reknown scholar and top debater, and in that book is the spelling out of the Progressive Element, which we seem to be repeating in the U.S.  A warning?  A prophecy of sorts?  And what was the motivation behind the survey in that article?  Who paid to have that carried out?  One of the first things you learn in statistics classes is how easily skewed statistics are to prove a point, and how they are used in corrupt ways, and that is why surveys that aren’t rigorously statistically proven are tossed out a window.  It’s an intriguing thought, to be sure, but my own IQ isn’t seeing that over 90% part as set in stone.  We may as well interview brain surgeons and say the same thing.  Does it mean something?  How is it applicable?  Does simply reading something like that carry any weight?  Apologies, but I’d probably need to see a 500 page thesis on the whole subject to even take it seriously.  Any one of us can write something like that and have it published somewhere.  And can we blame teens for losing faith in a country where socialism is failing, adults throw morality out the window, and there seems to be no hope?  Religion over the pond is a stolid ceremony in an ancient building.  Perhaps they don’t question their own history very well.  I’ve studied the whole enlightenment thing, I think it was the equivalent of lifting the same sorts of inhibitions and taboo thinking that teens regularly go through now just playing video games.  I’m a terrible cynic, and I think a very large number of people miss the whole point of God and religion in the first place, but I have yet to see proof of any kind we didn’t just make God up.  I can believe in evolution and still not fall into people coming from a ‘caveman’ mentality.  I grew up around animals, they’re pretty smart, too.  I believe there have been some super smart people all along.  I keep wondering why it seems so important in the last few generations to keep insisting there is no God, as if it should be fashionable now.  Who cares?  If there is no God, big deal.  Shutting off all religion and enlightening the entire human race isn’t going to make anything any better, because we’re all still pretty big idiots, despite high IQs.  =P  haha  Anyway, I should let this go, it’s gone way off topic.  (I suppose a good name for me would be Puddleglum.)

    Reply
  • May 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm
    Permalink

    It would take an entire post of my own to go through all the stuff I experienced as an Aspie growing up in church. So, if you want to see how I am dealing with it, you can read my blog here on xanga.

    I knew I was autistic when I was ten or eleven, but a kid diagnosing herself doesn’t hold a whole lot of water… so it went over looked until my son was diagnosed.

    At church as a kid, I was simply considered “difficult.” I would run off and hide. I would break down and scream at people. I would sit and hold my ears during certain songs that contained words or phrases that were shouted… and then I would get yelled at for not participating. I would break down and cry and they would let me go sit with my parents.

    My dad ran the sound system and my mom ran one of the video cameras… so, this meant that I would have to go sit in the sound booth. The church leaders did not like this. They didn’t think kids should be allowed in the sound booth, even though I knew how to run it almost as well as my dad… kids shouldn’t touch expensive equipment, never mind that my dad bought most of it… so… I didn’t have the best experience at church.

    The youth group was a nightmare. Most of what I am dealing with now is undoing the damage caused by the five years of hell I went through being 13-18 years old…

    I will try to write a coherent post about it soon.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2009 at 9:06 am
    Permalink

    @abilene_piper_lg@xanga – Yeah, I’ve thought long, deep, and hard about it, starting at a young age.  I was really ticked off about 7 years old that I am tossed into ‘life’ and told I’m automatically going to hell if I’m not ‘good’, and being good is a confusing mess of conflicted people disagreeing about everything.  But I figure if we are truly a product of our universe and nothing else, even given quantum theories, God by sheer nature should never have come up in the human consciousness.  If Fear creates God, that’s so extremely illogical that I can’t accept it.  Since I’ve done world wide human studies going back 25,000 years, and since the whole God concept has been there all along, I conclude whatever God is, is real, apart from humans, a natural instinct we possess.  The whole debate over right and wrong begins with a 2 year old realizing it can lie, and knowing even then that a lie is not the truth and therefore ‘wrong’, but using the lie to either protect itself or get something.  If there is no God, and morality is virtually meaningless without it being bioligically driven (in which case morality changes with the cultures and isn’t definitive), then a lie is not bad.  We can go from there to prove that crime is not wrong.  Personally, I prefer God, because philosophically debating all the little details into dust gets really old and only goes in circles.  And I have studied a LOT of philosophy, politics, anthropology, religions around the world, wars, etc.  Higher IQ being in a reverse relationship with faith is ridiculous, because there are many people with very average IQs who could care less about God and religion, as well.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say the sheep follow blindly behind whoever makes it fashionable to say ‘God is dead’.  We’ve been oscillating through this for decades.

    Reply
  • May 29, 2009 at 10:43 am
    Permalink

    @.@ I hate when people do that… form cliques and exclude people who are different. I remember the first church ever that I went to, right before the original youth pastor and after he left, all these cliques started forming, and even though I tried to fit in, I never did. So… I was the one standing on the outside [Since I don’t look like a toothpick. <.<], along with my friend who has Cerebral Palsy. For me, however, it’s all changed since my family found a new, nondenominational church. It’s basically one big clique, where everyone accepts everyone else. I love it so much… and I even brought my boyfriend [at that time, close friend], and he got saved there… it continues to be a great place for all of us. I know this didn’t answer your question… but I felt the need to comment on this, because I remembered the rejection of my first church from their judging on looks more than focusing on God.

    Reply
  • May 29, 2009 at 9:34 am
    Permalink

    @bluejacky@xanga – You’re definitely not what I’ve observed. As mentioned, I’ve observed that typically Aspies are either atheist or agnostic (note typically, not always). There is actually an inverse correlation between piety and IQ. 

    Reply
  • May 29, 2009 at 6:26 am
    Permalink

    Part of church being the hardest part of my life was the fact that I actually listened as a child, and then questioned why the things that were said weren’t being applied in real life (as opposed to half-applied, or a mock-up of being applied).  All I did was make observations, but I guess that was very rude of me.  Socially, I had no idea how to hang out with the other kids, and it was a relief when they walked away and left me alone.  I was an adult before I figured all that out.  ‘Church’ is the quintessential hypercube of layering ourselves so that no one else sees who we really are, in my experience.  I just suck at doing that.  Having said that, the coolest guy I ever met in a church had a nonverbal autistic daughter.  That guy had apparently faced all his demons, come to grips, and knew who he was in this life, and embraced it, because he seemed more joyful about hanging around other people than anyone else I’d met in any church.  I think that is what I always figured church was supposed to be as a kid (even though I was unable to do it myself).  People like that help me as a role model more than they can imagine, all pretense at faking it stopped, completely nonjudgmental.  I think parents of challenged kids have to ‘face up’ faster then people with ‘regular’ lives, either deal with it or try to hide it (like my mother).  Our challenge on this earth seems to be to learn how to deal with all these things sooner or later, and I guess church helps us with who we become through it all, if we can drop the act and really be ourselves.  And, as is well pointed out, experience seems to be the best teacher.  Others who haven’t experienced something for themselves really don’t understand.  I guess that makes the people going through the hard stuff the teachers, in a way.  Sorry so rambly.  I have illness now that makes sitting in church extremely difficult, and now I miss it, despite my constant aspie attitude.  When you guys look around and see people with bad attitudes in church, please allow them the benefit of not passing judgement.  People used to love arguing with or attacking me just because I was having a bad day and said something wrong, not understanding that I am socially about as deficit as a badger.  =P  P.S.  I think the reason I like church is because it is socially structured, and the whole point is not attention on ourselves, but on a being outside ourselves, and learning to see ourselves from the ‘outside’.  Church, for me, was the root of very deep plunges into philosophies and social psychology, and part of the reason I was so determined to make it through my sociology/anthropology degree.  Being a social creature makes more sense to me when someone from the outside (God) makes up the rules, lays the foundation, instead of us making arbitrary decisions based on nothing more than what pleases us.  I’m terribly practical about these things.

    Reply
  • May 29, 2009 at 1:03 am
    Permalink

    My 16 year old son has Asperger’s and I really hear what you are saying . . . he has very little to do with his own age of peers at church. Thank God several men in our church do enjoy him and have befriended him. If it were not for that. . . . I hate to think where he’d be by now in so many ways.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm
    Permalink

    Most Aspergers people are non-religious and/or don’t believe at all, or such has been what I’ve observed. I fall into the latter category as a complete and total atheist, though I was raised Latter-day Saints and had no rejection from them at all. 

    Reply
  • May 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm
    Permalink

    This really is great. I can only imagine how difficult it is to have Aspergers daughters in a church… I’m a healthy, “normal” (I am loathe to use that word..) 18 year old and I’ve been attending the same church since I was twelve.  I haven’t ever fit in to any of the cliques and I am able to pick up on social cues.  I can only imagine your plight.  Having a in-home Bible study really is awesome, and I admire  you for taking the initiative. 

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.