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Pondering life

Discovering autism

Autism, religion, and spirituality

Many autistic people reject organized religion, but I don’t think we can say that is necessarily to do with being autistic as many non-autistic people reject organized religion as well.

There are many factors that play into why people reject religion, and I don’t feel like our neurotype has much to do with that. I rejected organised religion because of a dogma and belief system does not resonate with me. I believe religion does not allow us to truly embrace our real selves thus takes away the experience of knowing who we are.

I am autistic and have comorbidities of CFS/Fibromyalgia, GAD, social anxiety, and other chronic illnesses but do not believe or feel they define my relationship with spirituality. These are my thoughts and beliefs and are in no way meant to project or try to change someone else’s but they may help someone else understand their own better.

I was brought up in a Christian family but fortunately it was not forced on me, so I was left to make up my own mind about what I believed. I have been on a conscious spiritual journey since I was was 26 years old. In brief I would consider myself as a modern-day mystic and have incorporated zen Buddhism, and the eightfold path into my life for many decades.

My search for the meaning in life at a young age may have also had to do with the fact that I did not know I was autistic, and I always felt I was dropped off on the wrong planet. I didn’t feel connected to my family, so I thought I must be adopted. I am quite introverted and thrive on solitude so have spent a lot of time being on my own. Even the way I have connected to spirituality has not been like others I have met or the way they have described it.

I don’t believe being autistic defines whether we will be spiritual, religious or atheist for that matter. We are a broad neurotype just as neurotypicals are because we are all unique. I feel many neurodivergent people lack perspective and awareness in defining their relationship to religion and spirituality because they focus too much on how their neurotype might define it when that isn’t really the place for those answers.

The path of self-discovery allows us to get to know ourselves better so of course an autistic person will then understand their neurodiversity better, and how it it may work with their spiritual selves just as any other non-autistic person would. Sensory processing may play into how much autistic individuals can tolerate as it can impact on the mental, emotional, and physical so autistic people may need to be in tune with that to avoid sensory overload.

Many autistic people do believe that being autistic does shape their identity and why a lot of autistic people resonate with identity first language. However, spirituality is defined more from the inner levels where we experience our true essence. Our personalities are an expression of our true selves as much as we can be from where we are now or feel comfortable with expressing. It’s always a work in progress and each person’s journey is unique to them. Of course, if we allow others to define who we are, we will likely lose our ourselves, in the process.

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