My Story as an Autistic Priest in US Catholic

A while back, Shanna Johnson from US Catholic Magazine got in touch with me about doing a profile. We spoke a bit a few months back, and I had not thought too much about it but then I see today that they had published the profile for their June print edition.

They also interviewed Summer Kinard about the book. I think she is one of the best autistic Christian writers out there today, and she gave such a glowing review of my book.

Here’s a sample. Read the rest over on the US Catholic site.
Screenshot from US Catholic article.

Father Matthew Schneider had a “pretty normal Catholic upbringing,” he says. His family went to Mass on Sundays, he attended Catholic school, and he was an altar server. “I wasn’t always the best student in religion as a kid,” he says. “I was much more interested in dinosaurs than Jesus.” […]

[Soon after I was diagnosed:] “As I looked at how [autism] was dealt with in the church, I realized that there was a need [to talk about my diagnosis] in several respects,” he says. “So I started talking about it publicly.”

Schneider hoped that opening up about his diagnosis within the church would help other Catholics with autism. “I think it gets rid of some of the stigma,” he says. “I think it might be helpful for people who are autistic and other neurodivergent people . . . who are discerning religious life.” He says that if other neurodivergent people see people like themselves in these roles, their discernment process could be easier.

For Schneider, being open about his autism was not just about shattering stigmas. It was also about creating a comfortable environment for himself. He wanted his community to know that he was not intentionally being rude if he was direct. “One of the challenges we as autistics have is that sometimes we can come across as a little brusque, which can come across as rude,” he says. “Whereas if the other person knows you’re autistic, they might [understand].”

Schneider went public with his autism diagnosis on World Autism Day in 2019. At the time he was fairly well known in Catholic circles (thanks to a sizable Twitter presence) and knew that it would be better to address his diagnosis himself rather than allow the information to get leaked without him controlling his own story.

The announcement was met positively. Comments on Schneider’s video thank him for being a role model for children with autism. One mother even shared the excitement of her autistic son, who responded, “He’s like me! I’m autistic! And I’m Catholic!”

Read the rest over there.

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