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AspieInTraining
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06 Jan 2010, 6:00 pm

I am a 53-year-old female, who is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I am happily married (for more than 25 years), and served an LDS mission to England. Although I have not been diagnosed, I strongly suspect that I do have Asperger's Syndrome (since many of the traits sound like me). I would be interested to know if there are other Mormons with Asperger Syndrome who are reading postings on this site. If you are a Mormon who has been diagnosed with Asperger's (or suspect you may be an aspie), have you noticed any difficulties posed by Asperger's as related to your membership and activity in the Church (such as social problems when associating with other ward members, your black-and-white thinking as related to gospel doctrines, etc.)? If so, could you comment on the challenges you face as a Mormon with Asperger's? If there are enough Mormons out there who are reading this site, maybe we could get a discussion going about challenges unique to members of the LDS Church. :D



millie
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06 Jan 2010, 11:23 pm

welcome. Hope you find someone who can help you and with whom you can identify. :)



robertyknwt
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18 Apr 2011, 4:11 pm

...but I just joined wrongplanet.net, and I'm using "search" to browse through the forums.

I'm self-diagnosed Asperger's, 47, introduced to the church by the girl who later became my first wife and later still my ex-wife when I was 17, baptised at 18, married young and divorced young with two kids (now adults), re-married 19 years ago and have four teenage daughters at home.

I could go on for quite a while here, but some of the things I note are:
* Too many darned people. I don't mind giving a talk, I don't mind arm-waving on the hymns (my current calling is ward chorister), but just sitting there in the midst of 200 people is sometimes overwhelming.
* Everyone expects a high level of friendliness. I fake it, but it stresses me out.
* I suck with emotions. My testimony is very intellectual, but not very spiritual or emotional. So when others show emotion with their talks/testimonies/lessons/etc., I feel very uncomfortable. And out of place; "like a one-armed man in a church of jugglers"is how I've often put it to priesthood leaders.
* I suck at noticing, and then wanting to address, the needs of others. I hate service projects. My home teaching is pretty robotic. I hate callings that involve "reaching out". I'd really rather be alone most of the time.
* My current marriage has been through many ups and downs (most of which, honestly, have been my fault), and sometimes I just want to chuck it all up and run away. If it weren't for the church, I'd probably have been happiest never marrying, never having kids (never mind six!), and so on. But, dagnabit, that first time I had the missionaries over it all made so much sense.

So. That's a bit of it. Ring any bells?

Robert



bigjessi
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18 Apr 2011, 6:26 pm

I'm an inactive member of the LDS church. My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are members so I was born in the Church. I don't have AS but certainly have AS traits and my daughter has AS/ASD.

When I do go to church, I'm tired of the disapproving looks when people notice I still bring coloring materials for my daughter (age 13) to use during Sacrament meeting because there is no way she can sit still and pay attention that long. She has trouble in Young Womens because she is "different". Primary was ok because another kid in her class had ADHD and behaved horrendously so her quirks were overlooked :)

It drives me nuts when people spend half their talks or testimony meetings crying. I don't conform to the dress code so am thought of as weird before anyone even speaks to me. Making a gingerbread house to compete with other wards is, in my opinion, a waste of my valuable time. I don't "fit in" so most of the women ignore me.

The church is very social and has many rules and norms. Its still the only church were I feel at home, but neither my daughter or I enjoy it much.



robertyknwt
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18 Apr 2011, 6:34 pm

Hi bigjessi,

I can relate. On the one hand, there's another autistic girl (age 13?) in our ward (and also two girls with Down syndrome, and another girl who's recovering from some nasty thing she got -- meningitis? -- and is re-learning how to talk and walk etc.), so we're lucky in that our ward is very accepting.

On the other hand, our daughter has no interest in going to Sunday meetings at all (although she DOES go faithfully to early-morning seminary ... go figure!).

Yes, the Mormon culture has a lot of issues with it that I could happily live without. :)



mike_the_poet
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30 May 2011, 12:46 am

Hey, I'm a LDS teen (turning 18 on Tuesday, the 31st).
anyways, all I have trouble in at church is being social, but hey.. that's anywhere else



CrouchingOwl
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31 May 2011, 10:16 am

I've always had problems socializing but they have taken a unique turn since passing the age of 19. The new rule changes for missionary service that were announced a few years ago contained a medical component that most people overlook and having AS or autism automatically rules you out for missionary service under them. Due to the old social stereotype of the only reason you wouldn't serve a mission being that you weren't a true enough believer or must have committed some major sin, it made it harder to talk about the AS issues. I'm a mild enough case that unless you knew what you were looking for or I let you get to know me well you wouldn't automatically say anything more than "he's a little weird" or "he's a little quiet". So if I tried to explain that the reason I was still around instead of off in some foreign country somewhere was because of this medical condition that no one could see, you could almost guarantee that I'd spark rumors about what sort of sin I must have committed. Since missionary experiences are such a major part of the social relations of people old enough to have been on their missions recently it made it a little harder to take the courage to talk to people or engage in normal social/church rituals such as home teaching. I love doing it, but breaking down the ice to get to know a new set of people can some effort for me. It's somewhat better now that I'm married and have a child, but I honestly still find it somewhat intimidating to reach out and try to socialize a lot.

There was one ward in particular I was in, a married student ward actually, that annoyed me to no end. In Elder's Quorum meetings (think Sunday school for adult males all those outside the church reading) the teacher wouldn't just ask for responses to questions but would ask something along the lines of "does anybody have something to say about this, in particular does anybody have an experience from their mission they can relate to this?" Since this was the format of almost every question I was pretty much ruled out from responding to the environment and just tuned out. I'm long gone from that congregation, but its a pretty good example of how life could be interesting for me at church. As a result I am very secretive about having AS in a church setting. Most of the wards I've been in I didn't let anybody know. There have been some exceptions to that and most of them have had fairly good results, but since the most obvious context for it to come up was "where did you serve your mission?" questions its been hard for me to be open about it.

Oh, and in passing having trouble recognizing faces makes life interesting too. I've been at ward activities and someone that I home taught came up to me to chat and I couldn't recognize them at all until afterwards.



kx250rider
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31 May 2011, 12:50 pm

I have a lot of respect for anyone who goes on a mission; ESPECIALLY an Aspie! I couldn't do it. I'd get sent home because I'd have been too shy to approach anyone. I have had some LDS influence, although I am not a member. I have a respect and admiration for some of the LDS Church's morals and ethics, but honestly I would worry that their teachings might not be very supportive of Asperger's, and I worry based on things I've witnessed, that many emotional and even some physical conditions are ignored as not real, or as unacceptable excuses, by Mormon teachings. I don't want to go into detail because of not wanting to step on toes of Mormons here, or to offend anybody. But in a nut shell, tolerance for the irregular or for the alternatives in life are NOT an OK thing in the LDS Church.

Personally, if I were in your situation, I would write a letter to the bishop, and explain exactly what Asperger's is, and see if he replies in a way that sounds like he's willing to listen to a medical or scientific cause, or if he simply reminds you that it's the way you are, and that you need only pray for guidance to be "fixed". If the answer is the latter (no pun intended), then you probably aren't going to get any positive support, unfortunately. If you have a home teacher, talk with them about it too.

Charles



mike_the_poet
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31 May 2011, 2:48 pm

My bishop does know I have Aspager's, cuz when I just had a really bad break down from sunday school (kids my age, but back then 16-17, now we're 17-18)
He didn't even know what AS once, but I explain it.. I don't see it stopping me from going on a mission, I got to get used to talking to people, even tho I know I will stutter etc



Jonsi
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31 May 2011, 2:49 pm

Mormonism and I don't get along well at tea parties.



CrouchingOwl
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01 Jun 2011, 1:39 am

Mike the poet-- I'd be curious how that works out for you. Since I'm mild enough I can pass as normal if I'm trying hard enough I didn't expect it to be a problem for me either... but rules change and when I was going through was still pretty soon after the whole "raise the bar" thing which had left a lot of the policy issues in complete pandemonium as far as consistent implementation went.


kx250rider--"tolerance for the irregular or for the alternatives in life are NOT an OK thing in the LDS Church." That made me laugh. I can recall taking a seminary teaching preparation class and there was a quote, I don't recall who from, emphasizing how they wanted the church's seminary teachers to have lives following a pattern of "beautiful normality." Given how many kinds of normal and abnormal you can come up with I think it was a bad word choice. Kind of offended me, given how weird and off the wall I can be. I know I have seen individual members who deny or are eager to discount the significance of physical conditions they can't see. I'm not certain about teachings in general (unless you might be meaning the focus on the choice to perform homosexual actions to the almost intellectual exclusion of acknowledging the state of being of having homosexual attractions) ... I'd be curious to see your viewpoint though I respect you choice not to post publicly about it right here.

praying to have the AS fixed... that was supposed to be the fix that would allow me to go on a mission. There were some people who really wanted me to keep at it for up to an unknown period of years to wait for that fix to come through. Given that their idea of therapy to help resolve the AS involved a ton of stress I didn't figure I liked the idea of putting everything in my life on hold for up to , what is it, age 35 when you can't go anymore? I just figured I'm not going to fight the rule book, I'll just move on. Worked out for me.



mike_the_poet
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01 Jun 2011, 12:35 pm

[quote="CrouchingOwl"]Mike the poet-- I'd be curious how that works out for you. Since I'm mild enough I can pass as normal if I'm trying hard enough I didn't expect it to be a problem for me either... but rules change and when I was going through was still pretty soon after the whole "raise the bar" thing which had left a lot of the policy issues in complete pandemonium as far as consistent implementation went.
/quote]
mhm, I know it's going to be tough, but I will still go on my mission



CrouchingOwl
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01 Jun 2011, 3:18 pm

Awesome for you. A word of advice. If your bishop is like my bishop was they might avoid telling you if the answer is categorically no. I went for 6 or so months trying to go through some improvised therapy the ward came up with for me to try to give an opportunity for a miraculous healing that would supposedly make it mild enough that no one would care and at the end they were encouraging me to withdraw my application to cause their record of me having AS to disappear and then reapply again after a waiting period without telling them I had AS so that I'd slip under the radar screen. Since the rule at the time was categorically no without any provision for level of severity etc it didn't matter how much progress I made as long as I could still be diagnosed. If I could have those 6 months of my life back so I could move on without getting myself built up on the question of going or not and then be shut down afterwards I'd take them back. So, if the current policy allows you to go great don't let anything I say discourage you. But keep your ears open and try to make them talk straight to you about the chances. If a miracle or lying about it is the only chance to get in you deserve to know that up front so you can decide what to do about it instead of being told that if you can just make a little more progress maybe it won't matter. Not saying people will treat you like that, but that's the run around I got.



mike_the_poet
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01 Jun 2011, 6:13 pm

Thanks for your advice, I'll got to check if they let people go on missions with AS.



chrissyrun
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07 Jul 2011, 7:28 pm

I am a mormon, yay!

I have met 2 mormons on here:
cyberfox7 (inactive)
mike_the_poet

Definitely feel free to PM me!! !



Rochendil
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15 Nov 2011, 9:35 am

Me too! :D

I'm also fully active and very sure that autism is compatible with the gospel.