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My husband has said more than once that loving someone with Asperger’s is a lesson in grace.

I think that this love extends beyond a parent or family or even friend.

I think it also means accepting and loving each other in church settings, work settings and other environments where the people are not directly related by blood.

I have been in places where I was rejected because of my Asperger’s. Though the people did not know that I had AS, they just assumed (usually the worst) when I did something or said something that they deemed inappropriate (usually self stimming such as moving around too much, bouncing my legs, rocking, chewing gum).

And as much as I love God, love church and love my brothers and sisters in Christ, I must say that church people tend to be the worst.

Now, before I go any further, the last couple of churches I have attended have not been like that. They have been very accepting and encouraging. I was honest and upfront about my AS, explained how it affected me and did my best to help people understand. And they were very understanding and accepting.

However, other churches I have attended and various “church people” websites and blogs I have visited have not been so accepting. It isn’t that they directly target people with AS, they just make blanket statements that exclude us and alienate us.

Or maybe it is just because they are acting like everyone else and I feel that as Christians they should be held to a higher standard.

Maybe it is all me. I just don’t know.

I used to bring Play Doh to church to self stim when I felt overwhelmed. I would work it in my hand and it helped to calm me, keep me focused (There is A LOT going on in a Pentecostal church – or just about any spirit-filled church! It is very active!). The problem with Play Doh is that is has a strong odor which can be disruptive to other people. Modeling clay is OK, but the color comes off on your hand and it is not as pliable as Play Doh. Plus, it is a little sticky which just causes more sensory issues (at least in me).

So I tried gum. Chewing gum helps a lot. If I start “going off” and get upset by something (which can be any number of things, singing a song to a different tempo or changing up words or stanzas, people crying loudly in that certain pitch that hurts my ears, strangers touching me without warning – if my eyes are closed I don’t see them coming, or other things that are ‘normal’ to ‘normal’ people, but terribly overstimulating and upsetting to someone with AS) I can focus on the way my jaws work while I chew the gum and clench my jaws hard until the feeling goes away.

In my mind, this is far less disruptive than flapping my hands, bouncing my legs or hard rocking. It is also something I can do whether I am standing or sitting. I can still hold hands if we are doing that. I can still sing. I can still pray. I still receive the Holy Spirit.

But some people don’t like the ways that I cope in service.

I think that maybe they don’t understand and hopefully they will become educated and then they will understand.

Please, before you make blanket statements, please just take a moment tothink.  Think about situations and other people’s issues that may not fit into your neat and tidy formula for perfection. We are all imperfect, but I would never, ever do anything that I thought was disrespectful, especially to God.

Yes, sometimes I say things that people don’t like, but I would never intentionally offend or hurt anyone. I just can’t tell what is OK and what is offensive (until, unfortunately, someone gets upset). I am trying to live in your world, adapt and make accommodations for you because I recognize that you are not like me. I just want the same opportunity to worship God, love Him, enjoy the fellowship and instruction that Church provides and draw closer to Him. I just want to be able to lead others to Him and help them find the awesome love and acceptance that I have found in Jesus Christ (He doesn’t see our so-called disabilities – He accepts us as we are).

Maybe you think I don’t belong in church if I can’t conform to the ways that “normal” people act.

But God created me this way and He is using me through this ‘other’ ability. He is helping me reach out to others like me as well as their families and friends. He is helping me lead others like me to Him.

So maybe I just don’t belong in your church.

Maybe when you find grace you will see that a whole world lives and breathes outside of your existence and it is filled to the brim with lost souls who need Jesus.

After all, aren’t we, as Christians, called to the business of saving souls and populating the kingdom?