Jesus and Autism

By Kloey Kaeser

August 9, 2022

When asked to write about “Jesus and autism,” I said ‘Woah there Christina.’” Actually… that's what I thought. What I did, was sit with a blank stare. I sat there for a few moments and thought, what the heck does she want me to talk about; that prompt is way too broad… for me at least. I’m a very literal thinker, but how would you know that? Without further ado, allow me to introduce myself. 

My name is Kloey Kaeser, I am sixteen and interning under Christina for the special needs ministry. I have always had a heart for kids with special needs; skipping my recess since the second grade and volunteering in MD classrooms instead. Soon I found Ashland Special Needs Ministry and fell in love with the respite program and the kids there. But, that is not the interesting part of my story… I’m autistic. Not diagnosed until last year, which is unfortunately common for high-functioning females with autism. Our often above-average IQ and ability to mask hides our autism until it becomes noticeable through anxiety, OCD, or depression that surfaces early in our teen years. For me, however, the signs were always there, they were just misinterpreted. I was an extremely fussy infant, who would stay up all hours of the night unless my parents walked me in a certain pattern. (Yes, I too am curious how baby Kloey knew). As a toddler I would have meltdowns over clothing, my parents had to buy special seamless socks, silk-only pajamas, etc. Also interesting, until the age of 8, if my parents moved any piece of furniture, I couldn’t handle it. I’d cry and cry, begging them to move it back; routine has been my lifelong BFF.

Unknowing, my mom just thought I was a quirky kid, I mean I did very well in school, tested gifted in everything, and didn’t struggle with physical movement or coordination. My mother did not view misunderstanding sarcasm and jokes as a big deal, rather with my sisters laughing I would laugh too, so she probably didn’t notice I didn’t get the jokes. The only times she would have is when somebody said something sarcastic and I got mad and defensive, interpreting it as an insult.

 Flash forward to Middle School, and I’m a hot mess, with lots of anxiety and breakdowns; then, BOOM, high school! Freshman year was ugly, it was so hard to make it through a school day. I had been in therapy since the summer after eighth grade but had recently switched to a new, better therapist, who at first told me that my thoughts and actions resembled that of trauma, however, I have been fortunate to never experience any trauma in my life. She then asked me if I knew what autism was and she explained to me that often autistic brains respond like trauma brains. Fun fact: brain scans show that autistic brains are very similar to those who have experienced trauma. Interesting right?

Anyway, that's enough of my story, back to Jesus and autism. So, it turns out, that after some pondering, Jesus and autism have a lot to do with each other. For example, Psalm 139:13-14 states, for it was You who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise You because I have been fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has made each and every one of us just as intended; this is who we are supposed to be. In translation, I was meant to be autistic. Some people could ask, “ but why would God give you or anybody a disorder with so many challenges and struggles?” That answer, we’ll never know for sure. That’ll have to wait till we meet the big guy. But what I do know is that God made me for a reason. God has made me and others autistics because we offer a different perspective; we see the world completely differently and can provide wonderful insights. Through our autism, we can teach others around us the value of inclusion, unconditional love, acceptance, kindness, and so much more. Also, just want to throw in here that the world would not be where we are today because autistics are some of our smartest individuals, i.e. Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, and yes, Elon Musk! 

My next point: God gave us funny people! This sounds weird, I know, but it's true. Autistic people are uniquely themselves, rather we can’t really help being ourselves. How many times has an autistic friend made you smile and laugh? People laugh at me all the time, in a good way, at least I’m pretty sure, although sometimes I have no clue why. I’ve learned I can be blunt and that sometimes it's funny. Of course, I have to monitor myself though, I do not want to say anything harmful… trust me, I’ve heard all about that. It’s something I had to work on; My mom would say “Kloey Elisabeth! That is just rude, you cannot say that!” The moral of the story? Jesus gave us special qualities to make others laugh.

Lastly, through the challenges of autism, such as anxiety, overstimulation, overloads, breakdowns, meltdowns, etc, God is always with us; he is always there to talk to. Having someone to talk to who knows and is without judgment means so much. Another common thing with autism is that it is hard to make friends and be social. However, when we feel this isolation, we can count on Jesus. He is always by our side, providing us comfort. I don’t know if you view it this way, but I always say autism is a tradeoff; some skills lost for others gained. I believe we see this fact here. Although it is difficult to socialize, pushing us towards isolation, God also gave us the ability to find calm and peace by ourselves. Lots of autistics are introverted and like it! We don’t feel sad and lonely when we are alone, God makes us content with ourselves! We don’t always crave socialization, for it is actually the cause of a lot of anxiety for us. Personally, I can occupy myself all day; I like to be in my room by myself. I read, embroider, color, do calligraphy, practice my instruments, etc. Usually, when I come down to get lunch, my parents say “Wow Klo so nice to see you today” and “bye Klo” when I go back up.

And with that, there you go, Jesus and autism, very inwardly connected. 

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