This week, two different sites posted interviews with me. Earlier, I posted the interview on Profiles in Catholicism. Now, I have another interview with a site called Learn from Autistics. This is a website created by the mother of an autistic son where she seeks out ideas from adult autistics to help other parents of autistic children. She interviewed me about autism and religion.
Here is the start of the interview. The rest is on their site.
Fr. Matthew Schneider is a priest with the Legionaries of Christ ordained in 2013. He has over 50,000 followers between Twitter and Instagram. He is studying a doctorate in theology and lives in the Philadelphia area. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Fr. Matthew has worked throughout North America. This week Fr. Matthew discusses the intersection of autism and spirituality.
Describe the role religion played in your life before you entered the priesthood.
I grew up in a decent Catholic family. We’d go to Mass every Sunday and occasionally we’d pray together otherwise. We were not some super-Catholic family who prayed together every night or was at church multiple times a week. In Alberta, Canada, where I grew up, Catholic schools are free, so I went to them. In high school, I had a few experiences that made me take my faith more seriously. I immediately became very involved in the Catholic group on campus when I got to the local state university. After two years studying engineering, I left for the seminary. Studying and working for over a decade preparing for the priesthood, my faith was obviously my top priority.
How did you first become aware you were Autistic?
Throughout the years, I’d hear various descriptions of “Asperger’s” and wondered if maybe that applied to me. But I just brushed them off, thinking that it was a minor difference. Then my first year after ordination, I got a three-year assignment as a school chaplain. However, after the first year, they wanted me gone and suggested Asperger’s. (Note: the DSM-5 had just come out which combined Asperger’s and autism into Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I don’t blame school administrators for being only a year behind on knowing psychological diagnoses.)
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