Autism, Asperger's and Atheism


Autism, Asperger's and Atheism

It's a language barrier and social barrier that's rough enough to work through without the added ick of religious platitudes. Whether you have it, know someone who does, or are just interested in knowing more, all are welcome!

Members: 53
Latest Activity: Nov 9, 2016


It is the hot buzzword, the disorder du jour, but I dare you to find a news soundbite that even attempts to explain what it really is. At its core it's a language barrier. While science is still struggling to map the mystery that is the human brain, Autism definitely appears to be a sort of hearing-impairment (or profound deafness depending on what end of the scale you're on) in those processes that handle empathic communication, reading-between-the-lines, intonation, body-language, facial expressions, and other communication that takes place outside of, in between, through and around the literal words we speak.

But don't take this to mean we lack empathy or emotion, or can't tell when someone is mad at us. It's that a process which, for the Neurotypical (NT) brain, is subconscious, automatic, instinctive, for us is more of a conscious, active process. The NT child automatically reads Mom's face. The Autistic child, to whatever degree, is having to consciously study, learn and memorize which facial expression means what.

Other elements that go along with this language barrier often include hypersensitivity in one or more of the 5 physical senses (now you know why your Aspie coworker really can't stand the florescent lights or particular source of white noise in the office). Autistics tend to hone in on details of an otherwise larger picture, commonly manifesting into our "specialized interests;" self-taught experts on anything from sports stats to music or film trivia, to planes, trains, or a gem collection. Some are savant-level skilled at their area of interest (and in the workplace this can be a superpower advantage when that singular task needs tons of attention). Many Autistics are high-IQ and are often overly logical and objective in conversation. We are Spock or Data to your Captain Kirk or Picard. We are the kids who got beat up on the playground for trying to intellectualize our way out of a fight at the swing set.

Overall, Autism is a marked difference in how our brains take in and process information. For some, it's profound enough to be a true disability. For Aspies or High Functioning Autistics, the 'disability' is because we're outnumbered by NT coworkers, classmates, family members. But don't mistake social awkwardness for lack of job skill. Because we have a hard time with empathic communication doesn't mean we lack empathy. Just because we have a hard time connecting with people at times doesn't mean we don't want to. We appreciate the party invitation and if we turn it down because we're just not up for the exhaustive chore that is socializing-at-a-party, it's not a poor reflection on you. Really it's not! Some days that exhaustive effort is worth it. Some days, not so much.

And don't mistake our impairment in one way of communicating for a complete lack of ability to communicate. In fact, many an Autistic enters professions like mental health, sociology, anthropology. The fact that human communication is more of a conscious effort for us than the NT can actually end up making us very, very good at reading human behavior. We're just seeing/reading/experiencing it from the opposite side of the auditorium so to speak!

Could it be mirror neurons?

Fantastic overview on how mirror neurons work (or don't).

And from the same site, an article refuting the mirror neuron theory.

It's both the beauty and frustration of science; especially in new, relatively unexplored territory!

Discussion Forum

Theory of Mind

Started by Stuart Bechman. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 8 Replies

In rooting around the internet for information on autism and asperger's syndrome, I came across several references to something called "Theory of Mind".Calling it a "theory" is a bit of a stretch. …Continue

Tags: conclusion, sports, personal, identity, logical

We are the skilled, reliable, loyal employees. So why so hard to hold onto a job?

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 18 Replies

So I've formed a theory - ok, more like an observation - and just bounced it off a friend; woman who counsels parents of special needs kids and thusly is well versed in issues such as Autism. The…Continue

Tags: politics, boss, coworker, office, job

Introversion and Asperger's....amazing overlaps!

Started by Aggiememenon. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 1 Reply

Read this article and replace the word "Introvert" with "Aspie" and see if it still doesn't hold (mostly) true. …Continue

The dating double liability: Atheist AND Aspie...

Started by Aggiememenon. Last reply by Steph S. Jan 15, 2012. 1 Reply

Let's face it, we're a minority within a minority.  We're already members of "America's most distrusted minority" = i.e. atheists, but on top of that, we're also Aspies on the Autism spectrum.My…Continue

Any other parents of children with autism?

Started by Grace Fitzpatrick. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 20 Replies

My daughters are both on the mild end of the spectrum.  The oldest has more problems socially than the youngest.  We finally got a diagnois for her when she was three.  We tired to get therapy for…Continue

"Temple Grandin" and "Snow Cake."

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 3 Replies

Just finished watching "Temple Grandin." First and foremost Claire Danes TOTALLY needs an award. It's one of those performances where you completely forget who the actor is and just get wrapped up in…Continue

Tags: Cake, Sigourney, Weaver, Snow, Grandin

Temple Gradin (The Movie)

Started by Grace Fitzpatrick. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 8 Replies

For those who don't know her, Temple Gradin is a woman with autism who grew up in the 50s and became very successful in the cattle business.  She went on to write a number of books about autism and…Continue

So, does Autism increase one's resistance to the religion virus?

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 17 Replies

Simply put, we tend to use more prefrontal cortex to compensate for our lack of instinctive/empathic communication. We tend to be more objective, more logical, more likely to require evidence before…Continue

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Autism, Asperger's and Atheism to add comments!

Comment by Aggiememenon on May 19, 2012 at 3:57pm

Comment by toriauru on May 19, 2012 at 10:49am

I used to drink a lot as well.  Didn't have an off switch to tell me when to stop drinking either.  I gave it up when I found out that I had Bipolar (manic/depression).  Best decision that I made.  Yes, drinking seemed to work to loosen me up, and I just talked more, but made less sense haha.  Yes, nice to see some discussion in here :)

Comment by Aggiememenon on May 19, 2012 at 10:31am

@ sk8eycat; I concur with toriauru.  I know a very religious Aspie in my area, and worse, he's a computer genius to boot.  Highly improbable, but there you go.  While I do think having an ASD gives one greater "resistance" to the "God Virus", it's not 100% immunity.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I myself had a "religious phase" in graduate school, which I blame on trying to wrap my head around Postmodernism, which weakened my rational faculties.  Once you abandon Reason, religion comes easily.  Luckily my rational mind stuck around in my subconscious and would not let me commit intellectual suicide.  At most I was a kind of self-styled new-agey neo-hippie Christian for a few annoying months.  It didn't last...I got to experience in condensed microcosm what many lifelong true believers have to endure for many years.  As such, I know exactly the physical sensations they mean when they say things like "No Jesus, no peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace", etc.  For me the Problem of Evil was (and is) insurmountable.  I abandoned faith and sank into a dark, nihilistic depression.  I started reading several "Intro to Philosophy" style books, clawing my way back to a rational, secular humanistic world view.  I liken the whole experience to a very strange drug trip, with Gregorian and Russian Orthodox chant on CD and incense and everything. 

Speaking of which, I drank heavily in college and graduate school...I realize now only in hindsight it was to overcome and compensate for my Aspergian social awkwardness...drink to the point of no longer caring about feeling awkward and force myself to try to connect with people.  It worked--sort of--but the cost was horrific and the benefits only temporary.  I only ever experimented with a little pot and a little hash in Germany as an exchange student for a year.  I didn't like either one...not least because unlike with alcohol, I couldn't gauge or measure its effects and the effects would SLAM and hit you all at once. 

Anyway, I no longer drink socially at all anymore.  Just not worth the risk of DWIs (of which I've had a couple, though one was plead down to wreckless driving), etc.

Comment by sk8eycat on May 18, 2012 at 10:20am

Actually I've met other people with Asperger' "Star Trek" fan conventions about 40 years ago. "Trek" was the most important thing in their lives; it was something like a religion for them.  To me it was just a show, but I did love some of the episodes.

One guy had his name legally changed to "James T. Kirk," and had a closet-full of Star Fleet uniforms that he made himself...he was very talented and creative, but would fly in your face if you forgot to address him as "Captain."  No biggie; all SF fans have their quirks, or we wouldn't be fans.

Comment by toriauru on May 18, 2012 at 9:53am

sk8eycat - from what I have seen, if you've met one Asperger's person, you've met only one person, we are all different.  There is really no such thing as a "typical Asperger's person".  I think that it's just the way that she decided to live her life, choosing to be with the Latter Day Saints, for whatever reason.  We all seek acceptance, and that's the way that she found it I guess.  I, too, seek acceptance, but without the constraints of religion.

Comment by sk8eycat on May 18, 2012 at 8:02am

I'm a little confused.  My 67-year-old sister is an Aspie. IMO, she has shown typical symptoms since infancy, but when we were kids nobody in the USA had heard of Asperger's, and didn't seem to know much about autism in general.  They blamed it on the mother, no matter what.

Anyway, she has been a Jehovah's Witless since her early 20s.  It's her whole life, and a couple of people in her congregation are her only friends.  She is obsessed with the Old T*sticle and the punishments that were handed out to entire nations for not followiing the commandments (ALL of them, not just the first 10) to the letter.

I don't understand it.  Our parents were not particularly religious...we went to a rather laid-back mainstream church for a few years until the minster was transferred to another church, and the new one wasn't very simpatico, so we just faded out of there, and never picked another church.  (Dad and I decided we had better things to do on Sunday mornings, anyway.  Like fishing or sailing.)

The only thing I can figure out is that my sister let the JWs in the door one day because she was lonely, and finally joined up because they are so incredibly persistent when they think they have a "live one."

She does know better than to try to convert me!  She doesn't pray around the house, but she does spend a lot of time reading her buybull, and her Watchtower collection.  But it is embarrassing to see her put on her frumpy clothes (it's a uniform ... she never dresses that way for any other reason.) and go out ringing doorbells with her "friends."

Is she an atypical Aspie, or is it more a matter of "to each his/her own"? 

Comment by toriauru on May 17, 2012 at 6:28pm

Aggimemenon I'd totally agree with you there.  I'd like it a 1000 times LOL.  I'm so like that, with the blunt "bullshit" attitude.  I'm alienating people all the time I know, with my attitude on Facebook. But fuck it, I'm me, and that's how it's going to be, take me or leave me.  I'm basically new to the idea of calling myself an atheist.  I'd always thought the Bible was a bunch of BS, and really only came to this conclusion after reading the God Delusion and saying to myself "where is God in my mind?"

Comment by Aggiememenon on May 17, 2012 at 6:17pm

Fish, there was news recently of research showing that people with ASD's reject teleological reasoning almost reflexively.  For example, a neurotypical theist will experience something in their lives and then ask "what is God trying to teach me with this?"; A neurotypical Atheist hears this and has to think through how this doesn't actually make any sense.  But our ASD brains jump straight to "that's bullshit. Stuff just happens, dude."; Indeed, I've always hated with a passion the common admonition of "everything happens for a reason", usually said with an insipid smile.  I find it infuriating.  More than once I've posted on Facebook by way of response "sometimes bad sh*t happens to good people for no goddamn good reason at all, and you are a shallow person indeed if you deny this basic tragedy of the human condition."; I usually garner a few "likes" for this from other atheist folks on FB.

Comment by The_Fish on May 14, 2012 at 12:10am

btw, sorry for the bad grammar. I am doing this on my mobile phone.

Comment by The_Fish on May 14, 2012 at 12:08am

Thank you for all of your support, especially Jedi and Steph! :)

@Rose I never been to an autism group unfortunately, but it sucks that parents have to force the religious BS on their children. I don't know if such research exists, but I would not be surprised if autistics\aspbergers have a better chance of being non-religious. Even though we went to church every Sunday, I can never understand the concept of what people call "god's teachings." I can never concentrate on what the priest talks about. Because of their parents, those who are autistic\asperger have to be dragged in to religion just because since they are more likely to be dependent on them, they have no choice. I am glad I am on the spectrum level where I don't have to depend on my parents. I am even living on my own without any government assistance. Don't you think that their strengths with math\science connect to possible chances that they could be less religious than those who are not autistic\aspergers? If I had the money, I would do a research like this.


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