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Aspergers in Church

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Unless an Aspie discloses his Aspergers in church, it’s highly unlikely any neurotypical person will recognize it in him. It will become apparent that the Aspie person is somehow different from the congregation in general. Judgments will be made of the one who is odd. He will be avoided whether or not Aspergers is mentioned.

As the saying goes, it takes one to know one, an Aspie in church most likely will recognize another Aspie there. It may not necessarily happen consciously. Aspies tend to gravitate towards their own kind. People like people like themselves.

Without other Aspies around to fellowship with, most adult Aspies will try to mingle in during social time. Even though this is most difficult when new at a church, it always remains difficult. Never knowing what to say or how to inject oneself into a conversation is more disappointing to an Aspie than to neurotypicals.

Aspie guys in a church usually don’t encounter the same level of stress an Aspie female will. Christian women have expectations which place a lot of tension upon an Asperger Christian. Women are in charge of refreshments and meals. Hosting comes natural to neurotypical ladies. This is not so for the Aspergian ones.

Besides food management, dressing for church isn’t necessarily smooth going for Aspie females. Clothing must be comfortable. Aspies are not ones for being aware of what’s fashionable or what others think about their choices regarding what food to bring for sharing.

When an Aspie likes something, it’s likely to appear often. Changing to something different is unnerving for Aspies. This isn’t just with clothing styles or new recipes, it’s also with socializing.

Aspies do best with one-on-one conversations. Talking casually in a group setting is difficult. Aspies tend to shut down as soon as another person is added to a two-person conversation. To expect an Aspie to host a social event, even if it’s something as simple as a home Bible study, is akin to her going for surgery in a hospital.

Prosopagnosia (face blindness) is common among Aspies. This does not mean Aspies fail to recognize emotions in facial expressions. It means failing to recognize the person when something has been changed. It can be meeting at an unexpected location unfamiliar to where meeting regularly. For example, instead of seeing someone in church, one crosses paths at a shopping mall.

More often prosopagnosia happens when an Aspie sees a person who changed their physical appearance. Examples of this would be: a different hairstyle, growing or removing a beard (or mustache), wearing a hat if one isn’t usually worn (or vice versa), etc.

Changes can have a double-negative impact upon Aspies. It’s bad knowing others feel insulted when you don’t recognize them. It’s also bad when feeling creeped out by not having had time to adjust to a change in someone’s physical appearance.

NTs may find it hard to believe, but it’s true that Aspies can even fail to recognize their own parent, spouse, or even long-time sibling! Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but given the right circumstances this happens.

The lighting in a church service isn’t usually a difficulty for Aspies to deal with, but sound can be. Some Aspies are exceptionally sensitive to certain sounds. For example, the pitch some women sing in can negatively affect an Aspie’s highly sensitive nerves. A headache may result.

All the above should bring awareness to some of the challenges Aspies face from having “invisible”  differences NTs don’t know exist.