On The Military on Pride Month

What is the purpose of a military? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“And when the SJW mob passes through your area, when they see the rainbow flag on your house or business, they will pass over, but if they do not see the rainbow flag on your house and business, they will unleash their fury to get you cancelled and they will show no mercy.”

Such is what I have on my wall for what a friend of mine calls “Liberal Passover.” I get up and pretty much everywhere I go I see Pride flags. I didn’t even see this much for Black History Month or for Women’s History or Asian History or even for my own Autism Awareness Month. Mine is the one I least expect to see it for. After all, we don’t go and form mobs and shut down people that refuse to endorse us.

However, this is the first year I have seen the U.S. Military take this route and put up a statement for Pride Month on the first of the month.

So I did a search. Maybe I just missed something. I looked for Autism Awareness Month and the U.S. military. Nothing was coming up showing they celebrated it. I then replaced Autism Awareness with Pride Month and boom, it was right there immediately. Well, maybe people on the spectrum can’t serve. That was false also. There have been and are people on the spectrum in the military.

Now in a sense, I don’t really want the military to get involved. The military is not about raising awareness for causes necessarily. The military just needs to purely be America first. That is no longer happening.

My great concern with this? If the military can’t stand up to the SJW front, how on Earth can I expect them to stand up to our enemies? I can definitely assure you that the Russian and Chinese militaries are not spending their time making sure they’re supporting Pride Month or using proper pronouns or anything like that.

It’s also disappointing to see that if this is the case with Pride, then apparently the military is saying that the cause of Pride matters more than all those other causes, and this is part of the danger when it becomes political. Many of us on the right are very concerned that our military is becoming weaker because SJW causes are more important than the real point of the military, that of winning wars.

Do I still support the military? At the time, yes, but I am concerned about our future with this. I am more and more concerned that we are becoming a nation that is focusing on feelings instead of focusing on reality. I’m especially thinking about this after a great recommendation from someone that I read the book Strange New World. I have just recently started it and I am reading it on Audible and I definitely plan to review it as I am concerned about the Strange New World we find ourselves in.

I really hope the military returns to winning wars instead of political acceptance.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Theology on the Spectrum talk

Ready to talk about Autism and the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. This blog is going to be half-done in a sense so that my ministry partner can get it out, so come back later. Tomorrow at `10 AM EST, I will be doing an interview on David Popiden’s show again with my friend Erin Burnett, whose book I reviewed here, on Autism and the church.

The link can be found here.

Please do be watching!

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

It’s An Aspie Thing. Try To Understand.

Is someone on the spectrum rude? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Being on the spectrum, I find I tend to want to communicate non-verbally. Even at times when I want to express myself, I find it difficult to do so. There is some perceivably insurmountable mental barrier that pops up in my own head to keep me from speaking. Now some of you have heard me speak several times and wonder what is going on with that. Am I verbal or non-verbal?

Non-verbal is often because I don’t know if I can trust someone and I don’t think words are necessary. I am quite sure that suffering the sting of divorce doesn’t help. This is also in public. Even before I was married, I remember working at the Wal-Mart and being asked to be a greeter. I had to be one of the worst ever. I couldn’t ever work up the nerve to greet someone.

I should point out that there are still other ways to get me to speak. One is to find a point of connection. There was a time I was at Celebrate Recovery with my ex years ago when she was talking to someone and I was across the room and could only pick up bits and pieces. Later she told me that the guy talking to her was asking about me since I don’t seem to talk to anyone. She said, “You have to talk to him about something he likes to get into his world, like apologetics.” At this, the guy started asking her about what that was and before she could respond, I had shown up saying “Did somebody say apologetics?” The same can happen if I can connect with something like books and/or video games.

The problem is sometimes, people can assume that you are rude. As I have said, autism is an invisible illness. People do not see clearly that you are on the spectrum, though I do have a bracelet I wear that speaks about autism awareness, but then someone who is just sympathetic to the cause could do that.

I am again working at Wal-Mart and yesterday a pair of ladies comes to the self check-out where I am working and one of them asks if a machine takes cash. I nod my head. She asks if that’s a yes. I nod again. As I am walking back and forth through the area I come near her and I hear her complaining.

“If I had an employee who just nodded his head, he wouldn’t have a job. It’s disrespectful and rude to the customers and to the elders.” There were several other complaints along those lines. Now for me, I find this interesting. Here someone is complaining about someone out loud while they are there and then complaining about them being disrespectful. Something I have found is that the people who make the biggest deal about manners can sometimes be the rudest.

However, i also thought, “What if I was different?” I don’t mean what if I wasn’t on the spectrum, but what if I didn’t have an inner resilience and didn’t have a strong biblical basis for identity in Christ? What if I was someone who was entirely non-verbal and heard all this stuff going on? How devastated could I be?

Now keep in mind, I am not saying that people on the spectrum cannot be rude. Of course, we can be. However, just because someone perceives something as rude doesn’t mean that it is. Those who know me know I will tend to go out of the way to help someone.

Why write this? Because you could meet someone like me someday and you could be left thinking they are rude. Maybe they are, or maybe there is something you cannot see. I can assure you from my perspective that if you try to give a lecture on manners or anything like that, it doesn’t have the effect you want. When people do that to me, it leaves me wanting to speak to them even less.

It is Autism Awareness Month and I do realize it isn’t talked about nearly as much as other history months. I guess we’re not as politically advantageous. I hope readers of this blog will be different and remember that your comments could be extremely hard on someone on the spectrum and that you can’t see if they are or not just by looking. Don’t be what you condemn in someone else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: With All Your Mind

What do I think of Erin Ruth’s booklet? Let’s plunge into the deeper waters and find out.

I really like Erin Ruth’s work. I was introduced to her through a podcast where we both being autistic Christians talked about our experiences. What was so unusual was that the first question showed that we’re also very different. Ruth contended that it was more difficult to be a Christian on the spectrum because you’re so logical. I said that it was odd that I found it the same way in that it’s easier for me to be a Christian because I’m so logical. Emotional arguments don’t really faze me, hence I’ve never really been bothered by the problem of evil.

Now, Ruth has written a booklet called With All Your Mind on being an autistic Christian, and this is from someone in the United Kingdom where Christianity is a minority definitely. This is not so much her experience however as it is recommendations to the church. How can the church better help people who are on the spectrum?

A great problem in many cases is that Christianity is often a very social faith, but autistic people like myself tend to not be social. It’s actually a paradox. We want to be involved with other people, but we want to be in our own world too. The hard reality is people who try to force you to be social often wind up being unintentionally counter-productive.

People who know me know that I hate it when someone who doesn’t know me asks “How are you?” Unfortunately, I work in retail and I get that question often. I have also been “coached” before for not approaching customers in the self check-out and talking to them. In my world, that is absolutely terrifying, something I’m having to work on with people as a once again single man seeking to remarry.

Churches can do this too. Ruth rightly points out that something as simple as giving out earplugs to people who may have sensory issues can be helpful, but I want to also add to please don’t try to be the best friend. It can take time to build up a relationship with a person on the spectrum. I know I’m notorious for saying church greeters often do more harm than good as people on the spectrum want relationships, but I don’t think we want to feel like we’re forced into them either.

Prayer is something she talks about in her book as prayer can be difficult and I’m pleased to see she spoke in ways I have often said. It’s hard enough for us to relate to someone we can’t see. How do we relate to someone we can’t see?

Add in another hurdle being that so much of Christianity is often experiential and emotional today. Many people on the spectrum have a hard time with relating emotionally to situations. When people talk about the feeling of the Holy Spirit or great joy in circumstances, people like myself can be thinking, “What are you talking about?” It’s not that we don’t have feelings, but that we often do not have the strong constant ones and we don’t know how to understand them when we do.

At the same time, this shouldn’t become a burden put on us. Some people will say to read your Bible every day. I do that, but I don’t think it should be a legalistic thing. I had been reading a lot every night, but I realized I wasn’t getting as much out of it because it was becoming more ritualistic, so I switched to reading some of the church fathers in addition to my small nightly reading to give me a small enough portion of Scripture to really think about.

If you want to understand the autistic person, find out what their interests are and engage them on it. Ruth talks about how when she was a child, it was easy to make friends. Just talk about Pokemon. That wasn’t around when I was in elementary school, but video games definitely were, and I quickly became a popular student in school when I showed a natural gift for playing video games well.

Today, that can get me excited to talk to someone as it is easy to relate to a customer I meet at work who is wearing a Legend of Zelda T-shirt for example. Also when I was married, at a Celebrate Recovery meeting once, someone asked my ex about me thinking that I seemed to be off by myself. She was trying to explain matters to him. I was watching this from across the room seated on a couch minding my own business. Then I heard her say, “You could talk about apologetics.”

He proceeded to ask what that was, but he didn’t have to wait long. I had ran up there instantly asking “Did someone say apologetics?” I think this is one reason I like to tease people a lot of times. Humor is a way I relate to people and I have been told before I should consider doing Christian comedy. (And yes, I do think about that.)

The point here is that if you do manage to find an entry way, that’s a great way to open up communication. However, do remember some people on the spectrum are non-verbal. To get back to what I said earlier, if you try to tell us how we should communicate, it can have the opposite effect. Recently, I had a customer say thank you to me for helping him. I gave a nod and then went on my way, or maybe I didn’t as usually after I help someone, I like to disappear. A little bit later I hear a voice and it’s him saying “When someone says thank you, you say ‘you’re welcome.’ ”

Think that inspires me to talk?

Not a bit. It leaves me thinking that there’s a reason I don’t like to talk to people. I am certain the guy meant well, but too many people do not understand the world of the person on the spectrum. The same rules don’t apply and if you think we’re rude, you’re really missing it.

Autistic people can also be spiritual. One way we can do this is love. We do have a capacity to love and form relationships. I have been married before and want to marry again. I know that it is possible. It can be harder, but it is possible to relate.

We can also be sometimes scrupulous in matters, which is why we can tend to fall into legalism. I worry sometimes about spending too much time on other interests and not about God as much as I would like, which really I think shows me how much I care about God that I want to do better with him. There are a number of facets of Christianity that aren’t clearly spelled out in Scripture and this can be difficult for many of us.

Ruth’s book is a welcome guide to many and a beacon of hope for autistic Christians and the people who love them. The church needs to do more to help such people as now it is likely that most every church has at least one autistic person in the congregation. Thankfully, we have been blessed to have people like her help us understand the field.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Aspergers and Future Plans

What are the hopes for 2022? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to let you all know that for the first week in January, there won’t be any new blogs. I will be in New Orleans for the Defend the Faith Conference. I have been invited to attend, though not as a speaker this time, and while there, I will also be discussing with them the possibility of my attending seminary as well there. My pastor informed me I can get a big discount at a Southern Baptist Seminary on tuition since I’m a member of a Southern Baptist Church and I know a lot of people at New Orleans so it sounded good.

I do have a Bachelor’s already, so this will be Master’s work. However, that’s a brief rundown of what’s coming. Check here after the first week in the year for updates, but I do want to share something else about it. This post is not just about future plans, but it’s also about Aspergers.

When I was growing up, my parents say they were told many things about me. After all, I spent many a time at centers for studying disability. It wasn’t until 5th grade that Autism was my diagnosis. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t there before that.

There was some concern, for example, when I went to Middle School. Why? The school had more than one story. That meant climbing stairs. I was scared of stairs then. To some extent, I still am, but my mother took me to the school beforehand when it was empty and they let me in knowing their concerns. I reportedly told my mother, “I have to do this” when climbing the stairs. Looking back at Middle School, I don’t remember stair climbing ever being an issue really.

Throughout my school years, I didn’t know much about my diagnosis and didn’t say much about it. However, my parents had been told that I would never finish school. I wouldn’t be able to hold down a job. Nothing like that.

I understand I was the first student on the spectrum in Knox County, Tennessee to go completely through the public school system. I don’t know if that’s right, but it’s what I have been told. For me, any time someone told me I couldn’t do something, it often became a challenge of “Watch me.”

Now if I was never to finish high school, surely I could never finish college. Nope. Did that too. Did a senior sermon before my entire graduating student body which consisted of about 1,000 people, including students and professors. Even months after that sermon, people who saw me in the halls would still compliment me on it.

One of my professors, David Wheeler, remarked about how when I came to college, I was quiet and not interacting with anyone. Then I found apologetics there, which became my passion, and soon I was dropping in on my professors and sharing jokes and everything He remarks about watching me come alive in college.

I had also been told I would likely never drive a car. Well, that’s been shot through of holes. I drive nearly every day and to this day, I still enjoy driving. I still consider it a remarkable gift.

One summer, I knew I wanted to get out and live on my own. I was looking for a way to convince my parents though. I knew they were protective. I had found a good place and I needed a good argument to be able to convince them to let me move in. I thought of one and one day came home from searching to find them on the back porch together and I made my case.

“I just put money down on an apartment.”

It was a very powerful argument. The next day, we started making preparations. I took this route because I wanted to attend seminary out of state and I knew my parents wouldn’t just let me go immediately. I needed a trial period, so I lived about 20-30 minutes away and fended for myself for the most part.

A year later, my best friend, David Sorrell, and myself, moved into an apartment together. David was coming from Missouri and I from Tennessee. He would be getting a Bachelor’s at the Bible College. I would be getting a Master’s at the Seminary. However, there was one thing that did change our plans.

I met a girl.

After I married Allie, the seminary chose to go after my then father-in-law and so I left there as well. I am sure the people who were the experts had told my parents I would never marry either. Well, that’s another one they got wrong. Even now after a divorce, I say I am still not stopping. I have plans to get my Master’s and to get remarried.

For me, every major success I take is something huge. It is a victory for those on the spectrum as well. I realize not all are high-functioning. There are limitations for all of us, but I want people to see what I can do and if they are on the spectrum to think, “I can do likewise.” Your dream may not be mine, but you can still follow it.

Last month I went to ETS and I considered that a victory. I am able to fly on a plane by myself, interact by myself, and to most people, I am sure I come across as a relatively normal person. When I am on a plane flying, I marvel at what God has done in my life and allowed me to do what I love here.

When I walked down the streets of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I was amazed still. Here the experts thought I would never do anything and yet, I am out on the streets living my life and making a difference. I am hanging out with scholars and not only do I know who they are, they know who I am. That still shocks me.

Next week, God willing, I will be in New Orleans. I will be discussing attending seminary and if things work out, I will be moving then to New Orleans into student housing. There’s a lot to think about, but I think the future looks good. Every time I do a debate or am interviewed or anything like that, I consider it a testimony of what God can do in the life of someone on the spectrum.

Many of you who know me know that I am a hardcore gamer. Tonight, I spent about an hour playing several games against both of my parents individually of Connect Four at their invitation. I won the overwhelming majority. When I play a game, I play to win.

For me, my own life is the ultimate game too. I am playing it to win. I want to be the best that I can be in it. I want to succeed and be somebody with my life. I don’t want to just hold a 9-5 position and have it be that. (Even though I was also told I would never hold down a job. So much for that.) I want to get a Master’s and a Ph.D. and to remarry.

Tomorrow, I plan to write something on the New Year coming and a look back. One final plea I would make here though is to please consider becoming a financial partner through Patreon. There is a link on this blog post below. Even a small amount means a lot. This is about my going to seminary, getting a teaching position, hopefully starting the podcast again, and making strides for the Kingdom of God. Whatever people donate means so much because it tells me you think my work is worth investing in. If you want to make a one-time gift for end of the year giving, that’s okay too.

Besides that, I owe so many of you thanks anyway. My family always believed in me and supported me and raised me to be the way that I am, even if sometimes they don’t like my sarcastic personality. My friends have stood by me in many times and while divorce has been the worst pain I have ever gone through, one blessing I have is I don’t think I have lost a single friend because of it. Thanks to you friends.

Please be praying for me in all of this. The future does look bright for me really. I hope I can make it bright as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

On Simone Biles and Mental Illness

What do I think of the church’s treatment of mental illness? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So now the internet is erupting with talk about Simone Biles stepping down at the Olympics. I see some people who I respect saying what she did is shallow and egotistical. I also see people who I respect saying that she stepped down for her own mental health and that’s commendable. Which side is right? I have no way of knowing. I also suspect that they don’t know on either side, but I figure I can talk about what I do know about, and that is my own struggles at times on the Autism spectrum.

Keep in mind when I say this, that while I realize that there are struggles at times, I do genuinely enjoy my life and I think my “disability” for lack of a better word, gives me advantages overall. If there was a cure developed, I genuinely would not want it. I also say that realizing that not all people on the spectrum are the same. Some would be greatly benefited by a cure.

However, I do want to speak on the downsides some of being on the spectrum. The biggest way is obviously in my relationships with other people. It is difficult for me to interact with people I don’t know very well and social situations can be a danger for me. I realize this is also my own fault in many ways as I have to work to overcome this, but it is a struggle nonetheless.

Consider a few years ago at a church party. Here I was with people I knew and I was fine sitting on the couch by myself reading something while everyone else was having a meal. I generally do not like meal situations. Even when I go to my own Sunday School class evening groups, I don’t eat anything. Anyway, Allie insisted that I eat something so I went and got some chips.

Shortly after the hostess saw me as I was standing in the kitchen having some chips and came up to me and said “You’re eating something! I’m so happy!” I froze immediately. Allie was next to me and laughed some at it as she thought I was joking, but then she stopped laughing. She could tell I wasn’t joking. This was an extremely difficult experience for me and I cannot explain why. I can just say that for the rest of the evening, I just wanted to leave and go home and I was miserable for a few days. I did work it out with the hostess knowing she didn’t mean any harm, but that’s a difficulty.

Last night, I was writing something in my own personal work about being in high school. What do most high school boys think about but girls? I wasn’t an exception. I had a great interest in several of them, but ask them out? Nope. I had no idea how to do that. If approaching someone I didn’t know well or even knew well to ask a difficult request was hard, how do you approach someone like a girl you’re interested in and ask them out? I had no idea.

Eventually, when I went to Bible College, I was enrolled for some time after graduation in the Master’s program and at an event for students in the program, we all went to the president’s place there. Most brought their spouses and I brought my own parents. Someone asked me, “Nick. How did you get through here without getting married?”

Thanks for asking.

Even in one of my areas of expertise, gaming, I can still have a struggle. I thoroughly enjoy playing Final Fantasy XIV with friends, and if you play also let me know and we can be friends there too, but when I am with players I don’t know, it is still a social aspect. I wonder if I am doing the right thing or not. Am I contributing to the team or am I holding us back? If I think I am being scolded, it is difficult.

People also assume many times that I am intentionally rude on the spectrum. I recall one time doing a cashier job and a lady said something like “Have a good day, even though you are not nice at all.”

What did I do?

The best I can figure is I don’t talk to people like everyone else does. I struggle with eye contact and especially after a long day of working, my social batteries would be dead. It becomes a strain to interact with people like that. For many people, I suspect looking at someone in the eyes is perfectly natural and makes sense. For me, I have to intentionally tell myself to look someone in the eye.

Here’s something that strikes me about this. I am told I am not nice at all, but with no reason. If someone really thought that, wouldn’t the nice thing to be to say why that is and give something that needs to be improved on? I am thought rude for not doing social customs instinctively. Isn’t it more rude to assume that I am just like you? As I have said before, no one would go up to someone in a wheelchair and challenge them to a foot race. I have a disability as well, but mine is invisible, which is a downside. There is no glowing message above my head saying “Autism Spectrum Disorder!” The closest I have is a bracelet for Autism Awareness that I wear, but anyone not on the spectrum could wear that.

I recently had someone who I had had some difficulties with in a group I am in and it was causing me great anxiety as I didn’t know how to bring about a conversation. Fortunately, I prayed and I do believe God answered the prayer in a great opportunity presented itself. We ended up talking for about two hours on the matter as I pointed out matters I thought were inconsistent, rightly or wrongly, and how it was deeply affecting me. My friend apologized profusely not realizing what was going on with me and things are much better.

Here is a problem I can have in group discussions. I want to contribute, but also at times I get so caught up in my own excitement on a topic that I lose sight of how others are seeing it. You mean not everyone else is as excited as I am to talk about something like divine simplicity or the evidence for the resurrection or dealing with the problem of evil or any number of subjects? I have been accused before of trying to take over a small group because I just go on and on so much.

It’s really just wanting to be accepted and make a contribution.

When people go on and on about their personal feelings with God, I’m out of the loop. Personal feelings and emotions don’t make much sense to me. In the past, I had even doubted my own salvation because of this, but thankfully, I am for the most part past that now. Still, I cannot relate when people talk about this. This doesn’t mean I never have joy in God, but my joy comes more from an academic approach and learning something about God.

Yet like everyone else, I have many of the same basic needs. I have a need to be loved and to be encouraged and accepted. It’s one reason I treasure my friends that I have. You can always say your family loves you because they’re family, but friends are different. I am amazed that I have people who seem to genuinely enjoy my company and I’m always just wanting to do something to contribute.

To go back to the lady who said I wasn’t nice at all, anyone who knows me really would know that that’s not true. If I see someone in a need, I want to do everything that I can in my power to help them. I don’t have to know them. I have a strong sense of justice. When I have been at a job and seen one of my co-workers get yelled at by someone, I want to go over and see if they’re okay and offer an ear if they need it. How can I do that? Because that doesn’t really require me revealing my own self or making my own self vulnerable. I just have to listen to someone else and I can usually do that.

It’s also one reason I hate the question of “How are you?” People say it, but they make no attempt to have a relationship with me or call me or contact me by some other means during the week to see how I am doing. It tells me it’s just being polite and not really caring about the answer, which really isn’t polite when I think about it.

I don’t know why Simone Biles stepped out of the event she was performing in. I don’t know if it was selfish or selfless. i do know that the church has a lot of work to do on mental illnesses. I know that until you have been in the other person’s shoes, you really can’t understand. It’s why I’m not saying anything either way on what Simone did. I don’t understand and I’m not in her shoes, I can tell you my experience and what being in my shoes is like and if some of what I think here is wrong, I cannot be wrong on one aspect. It is what I really think.

When you meet that person out there who doesn’t seem to do what you think they should, it is true they could be a jerk, but it could be because of very valid reasons. It could be a struggle. Perhaps they are rude, or perhaps the rude one is the one looking at someone in a wheelchair and expecting them to walk like everyone else. The difference is my wheelchair is a social one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

New Autism Video

How can the church improve with people on the spectrum? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This will be a short blog entry. I normally wouldn’t do something like this, but this is an important video series I think needs to get out. I was thinking of doing a series on eschatology, and that will probably come in the future. For now, I am thinking some blog posts however on that topic since I did surprise someone I admire recently with my viewpoints on end times.

Honestly, I made this video on Sunday, but I made some mistakes with how to render it properly and a lot of technical stuff and I thank a friend of mine who helped me out. In the future, I hope to someday learn how to make better videos with at least basic effects and editing. For now, this is just going to be me talking about my own experiences and thoughts on the matter.

In future videos, I will be looking at other points on how I think the church can do better to reach people on the spectrum. After all, these are also people that Jesus loves and died for and they need to know that as well. The language you use to reach someone on the spectrum will be vastly different from what you use to reach your everyday neurotypical.

For me, making the videos is ultimately the easy part. After I distribute them, it is up to the rest of the church what they will do with them. Do we want to heed the call to show Christ to the person on the spectrum, or are we going to just let this group of people fall by the wayside, which would be in disobedience to Christ? One reason I am sending this out via blog is in the hopes that some of you will watch, share, and ultimately, act.

Please keep an eye on my channel for the latest videos as I plan to produce them more often. The best way to do that, of course, is to subscribe. Also, if you really like what you see, please do consider becoming a partner on Patreon. Every little bit helps.

And here is the video:

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Please Don’t Touch

Why is it hard on the spectrum sometimes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

They’re getting close to me. It’s coming. I know it’s coming. I need to prepare myself. It will happen soon. Brace yourself. It’s coming.

“How are you doing?!” and a little pat on the arm or the back.

Move out of brace state. Crisis past.

If you think I am exaggerating, I am not. On the Autism spectrum, this is the way I handle it when complete strangers come up and touch me. Actually, I respond the same way when even people I know want to touch me. My own parents don’t normally get to touch me.

For boys, some of that is natural with parents. There is an age when a boy starts developing an aversion to his mother’s touch. He doesn’t like it and it’s very awkward for him. The touch of another woman? Now that is something entirely different.

For me, I think of the scene from As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson’s character walking down the street and saying “Don’t touch! Don’t touch! Don’t touch!” I don’t do that, but it would sometimes be nice to have that kind of sign. A lot of guys could be hesitant to touch a girl in public today, especially with MeToo and the threat of being charged with sexual harassment in any way. The problem is we assume that our fellow guys don’t mind.

I am sure a lot of them don’t, but those of us on the spectrum don’t come with signs that say “Spectrum!” So what relevance does this have for Christianity? Why talk about this here?

Because if there’s any place that something like this happens, it’s in the church. Many people in the church like to greet one another. If there is anything that I see as a benefit of the whole Covid scare, it’s that churches finally abolished greeting times. I hated those times so much. You shake hands and greet people and tell them how good it is to see them and you don’t interact with them the rest of the week.

Now if I do let someone touch me, that is a rare time, and it is a privilege. It is when there is a special event that has happened that has allowed me to trust someone. Just recently, I had a long conversation with a friend in person that I had had an issue with and when I told him how things looked to me on the spectrum, it was stunning and it was a time of healing for us. Towards the end, he said, “I want to touch you, but I know you don’t like that.” I said, “You can give a little.” He said he wanted to give me a hug, which he did, and I gave a one-handed one back.

Again, if you’re not on the spectrum, you might not understand this, but on the spectrum, this is the way I am. I can compare it to the old classic video games that when someone touches your character, you get damaged or in some, even die. It’s like receiving damage to an extent for me. It is asking me to cross a boundary that I don’t want to cross because I don’t know if you’re a friend or a foe yet.

So what would be my advice? Don’t touch people you don’t know at church. What if that person is on the spectrum and doesn’t like that? Instead, try to get to know them somehow first as much as you can. If someone like me on the spectrum inclines to let you touch us, then consider it that at that point you have earned tremendous trust with us. We still might not like being touched to some extent, but we will accept it.

Please in a church service be cautious how you approach a stranger. I’m someone that can brace myself and not like it, but the wrong person could have a very verbal outpost putting themselves off from church and possibly the gospel.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: Finale

What is the conclusion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. One final example first. It looks like WordPress apparently independently decided to change my font and I am not sure how to change it back. My Aspie side is internally screaming at this. I realize others not on the spectrum could be the same way, but I definitely am being on it.

But for now, until I get that fixed, let’s discuss the heart of the matter. We’ve been looking all this month at life on the spectrum. Today, it has come to an end. By the way, as I said on Facebook, while I have every now and then seen something about Autism in an ad on a website or a commercial, it is nowhere near the celebration when it comes to identity politics. I find that interesting.

So in the end, what is the goal of all of this? It’s to help those on the outside to understand. It is not to justify any sort of bad behavior. I always say that our Autism is an explanation, but it is not a justification, which only applies if we are doing something wrong or inappropriate. I am not asking for special treatment. I just ask for understanding.

After all, who are we? We are your neighbors. We are your family. We are your friends. We are the people you see at the grocery store. We are the people who are serving you at the bank. You worship with us in a church service. You sit next to us at the DMV. We are in the halls of your schools. You befriend us, love us, and marry us.

We are different from you, but in many ways, we are also people just like you. We can be hurt emotionally, physically, verbally, mentally, and in every other way. Rejection can hit very hard for us. We really do know what it’s like to be on the outside.

Like you, deep down, we all want to be loved. We want to matter to someone else. We want to have friends. I even consider myself more of a loner, but I would not want to go through life without having friends.

The difference is that we do not have our disability out there for everyone to see. If you see someone in a wheelchair, you don’t challenge them to a footrace. Nothing in us explicitly screams “Autism” even if you can tell something is different. Today, I do wear an autism awareness bracelet. Part of it is my hope that someone will notice and at least ask me about the bracelet.

Seek to understand first. I know sometimes when I do something people don’t understand in a public place, I can hear people talking about me and thinking I can’t hear. I can. It doesn’t bother me like it used to, but that’s only after years of studying and learning all that I can. Many others on the spectrum could be less equipped.

Then, show some kindness. Be gentle. We want to know if we are doing something wrong and we don’t like it if we receive mixed messages on that. Life is confusing for all of us and we have an extra layer of that confusion.

However, if you come to know us, we are people who want to be a blessing in your life and we can be. We can be your friend and if you marry us, we can even be a lover to you. Of course, there are varying degrees of capability, but many of us strive to be all that we can be. Personally, that is my own philosophy. Life is a gift and I want to live it and appreciate all that I can of what God gave.

When the month ends, you may not be aware of people on the spectrum that same way. I am aware of it all year long. I am thankful there is a month that people can recognize us, but I wish society would take it more seriously. We are special people as well who can contribute to our world just as much as anyone else can.

Thank you for reading this month. Please be aware.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness: A Cure

What would happen if there was a cure for Autism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one will be my opinion in many ways. There are many fine organizations researching Autism and looking for a cure. I have no problem with this. However, I have for years now had the same opinion about the matter.

I don’t doubt there are plenty of people that have extremely difficult cases of Autism such that it is hard if not impossible for them to function. For such people, it would be a great thing if a cure came along. For me, I don’t go that route. If there was a cure today, I would not take it.

I compare it to when the third movie of the original X-Men trilogy came out. Some mutants wanted a cure for their mutation, like Rogue, who wanted to be able to experience human contact without worrying about killing someone. Others would not want it at all because they saw their mutation as helpful.

I would be in the latter group. If someone came up with a cure for Aspergers, I would not be interested in getting it. I consider the benefits that I experience greater than the costs, and there very much are real costs. When I go to a social gathering at someone’s home involving food, it can be a reminder of how I am different in a way I don’t care for.

Despite that, I prefer the benefits. I regularly use multi-tasking and memorization and traits like that. I like the way my mind works. I have even gone so far as to speculate that even in eternity, I could still be an Aspie. I am sure there won’t be any negatives at that point, but I do consider it an important part of my identity. If God takes it from me, then He knows what is best, but I would understand if He didn’t.

Now if you are on the spectrum or know someone who is and want a cure, this is nothing against you. This is just my opinion on my personal situation. If you want that cure and you are sure you will be better for it, God bless you, and I am not at all telling those in research to stop looking. I am also open to anything that improves my life overall.

Whatever side we are on with regards to a cure, whether we want one personally or not, we can all do something to raise awareness about Autism and make life better for those of us on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)