Have a Loved One on the Autism Spectrum? This Book Can Help
Father Matthew Schneider’s book has helped me share the faith with my autistic son in a new, powerful way.
“Communicating with God does not need words,” Father Matthew Schneider, a priest who has gained a large following on social media for embracing his own “neurodiversity,” explains in his book God Loves the Autistic Mind: A Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those Who Love Us. The much- awaited prayer book was released by Pauline Books and Media in June, and I was thrilled when my copy finally arrived in the mail. Since then, I’ve read it several times. Here’s why:
As a mom to a 12-year-old son with autism, as well as three “neurotypical” kids, Father Schneider’s wisdom is helping me share my faith with all my children, but especially with my autistic son in a new, powerful way. The following passage was particularly eye-opening:
Communicating with other humans requires audible words. There is a whole process for most communication that we struggle with, but it isn’t needed to communicate with God.
The book is light-hearted, deeply insightful and easy-to-read. Father Schneider takes complicated topics and breaks them into digestible pieces that a busy mom can reflect upon as she muddles through the day. Father also deals with myths about autism and lays out the challenges he sees autistics facing in their prayer lives — challenges he’s faced himself.
But the best part about the book is that Father Schneider sheds light on the advantages autism brings to one’s prayer life:
We have amazing imaginations, and we are naturally humble and open with God. We can communicate with God in our way and he will respond in turn.
Father Schneider points out that autistic people should realize their relationship with God will be “more intellectual and less emotional than anything they’ll read in [most] prayer books.” But it doesn’t mean their relationship with God is less meaningful.
Above all, this book has encouraged me, as I’m sure it will others, “to focus on using rational explanations about the faith, rather than imparting an emotional religious experience,” particularly to my autistic son. That being said, I can see this approach being helpful with some neurotypicals I love too!
“Go Forth Autistically” is one of the last chapters in the book. It’s Father Schneider’s “call to action.” I was heartbroken to learn that “autistics are twice as likely to be atheists or agnostics” than their neurotypical counterparts. That’s why Father Schneider says the best people to evangelize to members of the autistic community are those who speak the same language — other autistic Catholics.
He empowers his audience to do just that: to evangelize by first deepening their spiritual lives with suggested prayers, Scripture passages and meditations designed to give hope and to show God’s love for people on the spectrum and their families.
Father Schneider speaks candidly about hardships he’s faced throughout his life, but also explains how God has showered him with grace when he’s needed it the most.
God Loves the Autistic Mind is the title of Father Schneider’s groundbreaking book, but it’s also his battle cry that rings loud and clear on every page.