Saturday, 27 May 2017

Faith and Retreat

Magdala Encounter Chapel

I give thanks for the kindness of Bishop John in allowing me to join his retreat to the Holy Lands in May.

As an autistic Christian, long travel is daunting.  But ...encountering the very stones on which Jesus walked?  Touching the smooth, cool surfaces.  Encountering the fragrant beauty of the flowers and herbs that surrounded him in the landscape.  Bathing in the light of dawn, as the sunlight touches the hills, the lake...It makes it worth every moment of anxiety, and every long hour of careful planning and preparation.

I went with a question.  And with a heart filled with worry.

In the Encounter Chapel, in the Magdala area, I found what I needed.  In quiet prayer during the service.  In being able to say what hurts in my life.  In daring to reach, in prayer, for the 'hem of Jesus's garment', hoping for healing.  I mean this figuratively, not literally.  But, the beautiful painting in that chapel was breathtaking.  It meant so much to me, as a marginalised woman in today's society.  It shows the hand of a woman, reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus's clothes, unseen by him.  She hoped for healing.  Just by even that tiny, tiny action.  Such was her faith.  Healing, physical, and spiritual, after a lifetime of being excluded from society because of a situation not of her making.  She was healed.  He put her back into society, through her faith, through his power.

I came out at peace.

Truly blessed with the wonderful people who shared that retreat.  With all of the lovely people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds that we met as we visited the Holy sites.  With the kindness of the airport and airline staff who helped me get there and back safely and without added anxiety.  Thanks to lovely family who knew how important this was to me, and who sent me with their own blessing. Coping without me is not a small thing, for them.

Mostly, huge thanks to the wise leaders of our Retreat.   They allowed me to travel in a group of people of amazing minds and superb verbal ability. People of great knowledge of faith and huge public authority.  It was such an honour to be a small part of their journey.

It meant so much.

After the recent journey with cancer, and its aftermath, each day is a gift I may never be given again.  I may live a full life, thanks to the team. But one never knows, after cancer. I may never be able to return.  So, I keep each precious moment in my heart.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Autism and Violent Crime: Autistic people more peaceful than others on average.

Are autistic people more violent, on average?  The results are in, as they often say on the TV. 

15% less likely to be violently criminal than other people. (That's what a rate of 0.85 means).

The exception was when autistic people also had ADHD or a conduct disorder.  

So, it seems autistic people are, on average, more peaceful than other people.  15% more peaceful. This adds to the data we already have on autistic people being generally more moral, more honest, more diligent.  Generally more able to detect the first signs of danger in the environment, thanks to different hearing and vision. 

Tell me again how removing us from the gene pool will help everyone?   

Glad of the marvellous peace-campaigning autistic friends and colleagues.  Glad of the many patient loving autistic parents and carers.  Glad of the wise and noble autistic friends aplenty who share my life.  We are generally a force for peace, for progress, for social responsibility.  Yes, exceptions will apply.  The exceptions are very visible, and it's easy to think they are 'autism'.  But, there are exceptions for all kinds of people.  Short people, tall people, people with size 7 feet, people living in towns beginning with the letter P. Saying violence is part of autism is simply incorrect.  Violence isn't part of the diagnostic criteria.  I wonder how many autistic people have had to live a terrible life, because we've had autism and conduct disorder mixed up, for example?  Do we need better training for diagnostic teams, so they can 'unpick' autism from other things, and assign behaviours to the correct thing?

Dear media, please get a grip on what is autism, and what is a combination of things, or something quite different.  Autistic people are already hugely more likely to be victims of crime, victims of fraud, assault, rape, bullying, ostracism.  Autistic people are already likely to die some 16 years earlier than others.

This mostly peaceful and gentle population deserves better.