I discovered this book today through facebook advertising. It reminded me of my long-delayed and put-off series on autism in new age literature. I added the book to the list of ones I intend to review, hopefully I’ll get around to it at some point.
Without reading it, I’m just going to say I am glad in some ways that there are books like that out there, but a bit uneasy at the same time. Let me explain both. I’m glad that there are books out there addressing this because many families consider it near mandatory to attend religious services, and I imagine the book will make some effort to address how to make certain aspects of church-going more friendly to autistics, such as explaining what goes on in which part of the service and why, or picking an ideal spot where autistic people can make a hasty exit if they need to, or providing accommodations for sensory overload issues. That way, an autistic person may more fully participate in religious services without feeling left out or unwelcome.
I am slightly uncomfortable with the idea though because, in all honesty, there are autistic people like me who are more spiritually solitary and don’t care for group activities of any kind, including the religious variety, and I think that if an autistic individual doesn’t show any interest in going to a religious service for whatever reason, or actively requests to not go, they shouldn’t be pressured to do so, either out of a sense of wanting them to be part of the religious community or fear of them being ostracised if they don’t participate. People can be close to their spiritual/religious side in many ways, and many autistic people will prefer a solitary type of meditation/worship over a group style, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many of them may even reject a religious identity altogether, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s what they feel is best for them, I don’t want people to think that if they just do steps XYZ, then the autistic person will change their mind and want to come along to church.
If the book recognizes that, and finds ways to welcome, not force, autistic people to participate in religious services, it will be a very handy tool for many spiritual/religious leaders who are otherwise unsure as to how to deal with autistic members of their congregation.