Faith, Autism and Taking Things Literally

I have been reading Temple Grandin’s Emergence: Labelled Autistic. In one of the chapters, Temple shares about an experience in chapel at the boarding school she attended as a child. I will share a portion here to give you some insight in the challenges of communicating spiritual truths to people with autism.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” The minister stepped out from behind the lecturn and stood in front of the congregation. He said, “Before each of you there is a door opening into heaven. Open it and be saved.” He turned and walked back to the lecturn. “Hymn 306, ‘Bless This House.'”

I barely heard the hymn number. Like many autistic children, everything was literal to me. My mind centered on one thing. Door. A door opening to heaven. A door through which I could pass and be saved! The voices sang out and when I heard the words, “Bless this door that it may prove/Ever open to joy and love,” I knew I had to find that door.

For the next few days I viewed each door as a possible opening to love and joy. The closet door, the bathroom door, the front door, the stable door-all were scrutinized and rejected as the door. 

I share all this to say that much care must be used in sharing spiritual concepts with those who tend to take things literally.

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