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July 3, 2017
Christian Love
Most everyone who knows me more-than-casually is aware that I am on the autism spectrum. Both my 20-year-old son and I have what is now called “high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder”; not too long ago, the moniker was Asperger’s Syndrome. I managed to work for 29 years as a paramedic despite this, and went on to obtain a seminary degree, and have now been a Christian minister going on six years. (Parenthetically, my EMS career did overlap with my pastoral ministry for three years – I’m not THAT old!) While I am not a believer in the validity of IQ tests alone measuring human intelligence, it seems relevant that my son consistently scores in the 160s on such tests. My point: high-functioning autism does not limit a person in any way, shape nor form. Autism is NOT synonymous with “mental retardation” (I DESPISE that phrase!), nor with any other euphemism for low intelligence. Also, it is NOT an insult to speculate that someone may, themselves, be on the autism spectrum. To reiterate: AUTISM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH INTELLECTUAL ABILITY! The 1988 movie “Rain Man” was entertaining, but FICTION; yet the imagery many associate with autism comes from this movie! Many of us are nothing like Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond. Many of us don’t require institutionalization, nor do we have a “savant talent.” “Raymond” could multiply large, multi-digit numbers in his head; if you ask me to multiply two 10-digit numbers, I will pull out my smartphone. Popular culture is a poor source of information; the paradigms by which we live should NOT come from movies or TV! My point: people with autism are human beings – to the same degree as “normal” people! We are created in the image of the same God as “normal” people; we are worthy of the same respect and dignity as “normal” people. Most who read this are Christians, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ; this means we should not marginalize ANYONE. I urge everyone at Kelso Church – and all my friends in general – please be kind to everyone; condescending, disrespectful speech has no place among those who are gathered around our crucified and risen Lord! I know that autism makes us “different”; and that’s the real issue, isn’t it? We all have this tendency to marginalize those who are “different.” The LBGT community; those of different ethnic groups; the homeless, poor, and those from different nationalities; and we who are on the autism spectrum have this in common: we often present convenient targets for bullying. And – I admit – we who are part of marginalized groups aren’t ourselves immune to marginalizing others! I urge everyone, especially my fellow Christ-followers, please make an effort to be kind to everyone! It doesn’t cost us anything to do this! This will please our Lord Jesus! Before you launch into a condescending, hateful tirade against ANYONE, THINK! Let’s treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. God bless, and have a wonderful day! Pastor TG
Posted By: Gerald A. (Tony) Gaskin7/4/2017 11:07:16 AM