I did an interview a few weeks ago with Jennifer Barton, who works at Today’s Catholic, the diocesan paper for the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, Indiana. It was published last week and I think she did a really good job. I share some snippets below but invite you to go read the whole thing as it is a really good article/profile.
My Story in the Wider Story of Autism
I liked that she let me tell my story within the context of the wider issues around autism.
First, I spoke of why autism numbers seem to be going up which also explains my late diagnosis:
The main reason he received his late-in-life diagnosis instead of discovering the disability as a child was due to changes in the testing used to determine if a person has autism. Father Schneider was among the top ten students in his Canadian schools, and back then, intellectual delays were generally considered a major criterion for those with autism. Those standards have changed throughout the years.
“If the 2020 diagnostic criteria existed back in 1990, the chance I would have been diagnosed when I was in school is pretty high,” Father Schneider said. Even going through entrance evaluations for the seminary did not indicate a disability. That only came after he was suddenly removed from his post as school chaplain after one failed year.
Autism and God
Second, I spoke about how a logical autistic mind relates to God:
Part of the way that Father Schneider connected with his own faith was through the logical mindset of his autism. It was by reading Peter Kreeft’s and Ronald K. Tacelli’s “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” as a teenager that he began to develop a more personal faith life because of the rational arguments presented, but he admits that most people would not relate to the book in the same manner.
He explained that: “God has a whole spectrum of how we relate to Him and, obviously, if He made us this way, He will relate to us in a way that He made us. If He made me autistic, He’s going to relate to me in accord with that autism.”
Promotions: Fort Wayne Mass and My Book
The story also promotes a sensory-friendly Mass in Fort Wayne. I think relating my story to a local Mass makes it easier for others to follow up.
On his website, he keeps an active directory of parishes throughout the U.S. that host a sensory-friendly Mass. Included on that list is St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, which began hosting their sensory-friendly Mass last year.
And I got in a few words about my upcoming book with Pauline Press:
In his new book, “God Loves the Autistic Mind, A Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those Who Love Us,” Father Schneider outlines what autistic prayer might look like and provides daily devotions for those on the spectrum as well as family members and other caregivers. The first part of the book “is kind of a systematic presentation of autistic prayer” and the second half is comprised of devotions. Though other books about autism spectrum disorder and Catholic life exist, Father Schneider is certain that his is the first one written from a first-person perspective, and definitely the first priestly perspective on autism.
There is a lot more in the article. I encourage you all to go read it. I hope the diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend continues to help autistics and others with disabilities.