Autism

We Can’t Talk About God, We’re too Busy with Autism

This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

A week or so ago I was contacted by one of Kveller’s editors telling me about their month-long series on talking to your children about God and was asked if I wanted to perhaps write a piece for it. Being the mom of a child on the autistic spectrum might add an interesting voice to the series. “Sure, I’d love to.”

Hold on a second.

I’ve never talked to my daughter about God.

Why haven’t I done that? 

We’re not atheists, we believe in God, we play fast and loose with the ritual, but still. Then I see post after post appearing on Kveller about children and God, beautiful pieces, but the pressure mounts.

OMG, I really am the ONLY parent that hasn’t talked to their kid about God.

What have I done, or more correctly, not done?

The truth is, I haven’t talked to her about God because she hasn’t asked me about it. We are kind of busy with another all encompassing aspect of life, one filled with it’s own unique sets of practices–that little thing called autism.

For the majority of my daughter’s 9 years, we’ve been focused on the here and now, learning how to do things that take other kids mere seconds. How to dress ourselves, how to wash ourselves, how to brush our teeth. It’s taken years upon years to impress upon my daughter the importance of good hygiene, and we’re still not quite there yet with that one. Routine is so important for my daughter. It gives her security, yet the ironic thing is that routines which most of us do without even thinking about it are every day challenges for her. I still do things like wash her hair for her and it is only in the last month or two she has gotten the hang of using a knife and a fork to cut her meat. Believe me, I used to love the looks I’d get at seder when my daughter insisted on cutting her own brisket with a knife and her hands (Hello
Game of Thrones
, are you looking for a child actor, because my daughter will fit right in!)

Being too busy to explain God to my daughter sounds lame, doesn’t it? I think so too.

Sure, I could read her books about it and there’s tons of stuff on the interwebs about how to explain God to someone with autism but nothing I’ve read really speaks to me so far or seems like an approach which will work for my daughter. If anyone knows of any suggestions, please do hit me up in the comments.

Still, when I look at my daughter, I can see that she has been touched by God, and not because she is autistic, but because her soul is so pure (at least until she’s a teenager). She is a caring child, who has a real gift for understanding people and a desire to make others feel happy. When she walks past me on the couch, she’ll touch my hand softly. On weekends when she wakes up earlier than we do, she wakes us up with kisses and songs. She puts an extra stuffed animal in her backpack every day just in case one of the kids at school is sad.

If that’s not the spirit of God, than I don’t know what is.

So, while I would love to find a way for God to be a source of comfort for her in her life, we just aren’t there yet. We will keep going with our rituals, like the other day when my daughter barreled up the stairs and asked me if we were having Chinese food for dinner, “Because mommy, it is Saturday night.”

So, okay, we’ve got that ritual down!



 To read all of the post in this series, click here.

Dana MeijlerDana Meijler is mom to a fabulous daughter on the autistic spectrum and a social media junkie. Living in Amsterdam, by way of Pittsburgh and Tel Aviv, Dana drinks too much coffee and diet coke while she muses about raising a daughter with special needs, being a stranger in a strange land and whatever else floats her boat at any given moment. In addition to blogging on Kveller, Dana also blogs on The Times of Israel and on her own website. And, oh yeah, Dana also has a day job.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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