When those on the autistic spectrum have severe learning difficulties, small developments in learning are like foot steps on the moon. For some, those moments will never come. What usually is of little concern is their comprehension of how the cosmos came into being. Quite frankly if there is a God that made severe learning difficulties then condemns them for not having the capacity to comprehend Him … why call him great?
The religious angle of those with learning difficulties, was raised in February on this blog, but events in Turkey have now started to hit the secular community over here with New Humanist and the International Humanist European Union picking up the story.
“Autistic children do not know believing in God because they do not have a section of faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya said, according to daily Milliyet.
Autism associations around Turkey have reacted angrily after the head of Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children reportedly said autistic children were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”
“Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section of faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said. “That is why they don’t know how to pray, how to believe in God. It is necessary to create awareness [or religion] in these children through methods of therapy.”
The plan is to offer religious therapy to at least 30 children by June, extending to the disabled. Kaya is quoted further in the article saying:
“Every child understands when you tell him or her to fear God, but an autistic child will not,” Kaya told the Daily News. “Once he starts to develop normally, belief will come in time. We do not have the idea of creating a section for faith in their brains.”
This is religion as child abuse. You really want to teach vulnerable children to fear hell and God? My autistic brother (on classic far end of spectrum – see chart) was concerned I was leaving home when putting the rubbish out. For months he had to stand by the door to see me before satisfied I was coming back. If a cleric tried to explain to him I was going to hell as an atheist, if he could understand any of that what do you think would happen?
This reminds me of the offer of paradise earth the Jehovah’s Witnesses spun us. That we as a family could see my brother without learning difficulties in a future world made new. Similarly here, the hope held out to Muslim parents is their child can be helped to appreciate the faith with a reward in the next life. Efforts misdirected when genuine tested therapies for those with learning difficulties are out there, where funding and getting in time are all consuming as you care.
There are strategies in place to help parents take their autistic children to a place of worship. This can be found from The National Autistic Society Site. One hopes however it would not just be parents reading that, but the religious officials as well – and attendees. Because the behaviour (speaking during silence, eating offering, getting up and running down the aisle) will no doubt upset some people. Their sensitivities should not overrule the welfare of the autistic child. That should override concerns for their soul one hopes.
Therapy should be aimed at increasing life skills and none at terrorising vulnerable children, let alone any children, into belief. When after much effort, patience, long suffering and kindness you see it paying off it really is shooting the moon.
Even if just little steps.
UPDATE: May 15 Islamic hell by CEMB forum
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog