What paths are possible for the neuro-divergent?

I am a congregational rabbi on the autism spectrum.

How is that possible? How could I thrive in a profession that is pastoral, that rewards extroversion, that seems mostly for those who intuitively grasp social dynamics. And yet I have thrived.

That is because along with the deficits of people on the spectrum, there are precious gifts that being neuro-atypical bequeath me.

It just took me a while to find them.

The Gifts of the Neuro-atypical

Here is one of my favorite sections of my book. I promise you there is more to come!


How I present myself to the world

For many years I have kept the knowledge of my autism to myself. I always thought, this is who I am, and it is really no one’s affair except my own, and no one will care anyway. But that is not actually true.

I’m writing this now, and sharing my experience, for my son Elisha.
At seven, Elisha inhabits a deeper band of the autism spectrum than I ever did. Will he ever have the words? Will he ever be able to advocate for himself and his needs? I do not know.

And if that is the case, I owe the beautiful human being who is my son to speak on his behalf. I want to understand him and what he needs to lead a fulfilling life, and I want to find a way to give it to him.

Because it is both my fault and my privilege that Elisha is autistic. Autism runs strong in the genes of my family. I went ahead and procreated with the full knowledge that I might have children like me, and Elisha is such a precious blessing, a sphinx whose puzzle I have not solved.

And so I will force myself to become even more eloquent, to turn over every rock, so that I can facilitate a meaningful and fulfilling life for my beautiful boy.