Autism and Theology Podcast

On this CATChat episode, Krysia and Ian share some of their favourite books, podcasts and content creators in the field of autism and theology. They also discuss why accessible content is needed, and how autistic people’s voices are so important in the field of autism and theology.

Resources mentioned in the episode:
Cynthia Tam's Kinship in the Household of God: Towards a Practical Theology of Belonging and Spiritual Care of People with Profound Autism
Ruth Dunster's The Autism of Gxd: An Atheological Love Story
Stewart Rapley's Autistic Thinking in the Life of the Church
Summer Kinard's Of Such Is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability
Lisa D. Powell's The Disabled God Revisited: Trinity, Christology, and Liberation
The Accessible Altar Podcast (
@kateharmonsiberine on TikTok
Van Ommen, A. L. (2023). Autism and Worship: A Liturgical Theology. Baylor University Press.
Raffety, E. (2022). From Inclusion to Justice. Baylor University Press.
The Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability.
Jemma Brown’s advocacy on TikTok -

If you have any questions, or just want to say hi, email us at or find us on twitter @autismtheology.
This podcast is brought to you by The University of Aberdeen's Centre for Autism and Theology.
Transcript available here:
The Centre for Autism and Theology logo was designed by Holly Russel.

Creators & Guests

Ian Lasch
PhD candidate at the university of Aberdeen researching autism and the Imago Dei
Krysia Waldock
Autistic PhDer: autism, belonging & religion. Assistant lecturer in RS @relstudieskent. Research assistant @UniKentCyberSec. Own views. she/they ;

What is Autism and Theology Podcast?

The Autism and Theology Podcast is a space where we engage with the latest conversations in the field of autism and theology, share relevant resources, and promote ways in which both faith and non-faith communities can enable autistic people to flourish.

Our episodes are released on the first Wednesday of every month. We have a variety of guests who are related in some way to the field of autism and theology. Some are academics, others are people with life stories to share, and some are both!

We also release CATChat every third Wednesday of the month. These are shorter and more informal episodes where your hosts will share news and give you as listeners an opportunity to ask questions and share your stories.

Krysia Waldock
Hello and welcome to this episode of CAT Chat, part of the Autism and Theology podcast at
the University of Aberdeen.

Ian Lasch

Krysia Waldock
I'm Krysia and I've got Ian with me this week as well and we're so excited that you could join
us this week when we discussed some of our book and podcast and other media
recommendations. So Ian, we were just having a quick braindump before we had this
podcast. Are there any particular books that you would recommend that you've been
reading recently in regards to kind of autism theology and neurodivergence in general?

Ian Lasch
Yeah. So and actually just last night I was looking at Leon's book, Autism and Worship, which
has in the in the beginning in the introduction, a really good literature review where he sort
of summarizes some of the other books about book linked treatments of this topic that have
come out pretty recently.

Krysia Waldock

Ian Lasch
And because his book is so new, it's pretty up to date. So I looked at that and I was like, this
is exactly what I would recommend. So I mean to start with his book is actually really good,
right? Autism and worship and liturgical theology. That's looking at autism specifically from a
liturgical theology standpoint, and also has some certainly some practical theology, as part
of it too. But then he in, like I say in his literature review, talks about several different books,
several different book length treatments that have to do with autism and theology to varying
degrees, right. So one is Summer Kinard’s Of Such is the Kingdom, which is a more of a
practical theology work and more general about disability more generally. But she is autistic
and has several autistic family members, so that is that is informing her perspective for sure,
even if it's not specifically about autism per see.

Krysia Waldock

Ian Lasch
Uh, he also highlights Stuart Rapley’s Autistic Thinking in the Life of the Church. Stuart, of
course, is is with us in cat.

Krysia Waldock

Ian Lasch
So I think we're all familiar with him and his, his work and his, that's a pretty good sort of
consideration of how autistic people incorporate or don't incorporate into the church or how
they how they end up feeling excluded and why they end up feeling excluded. So certainly
worth looking at, he mentioned Cynthia Tam’s Kinship in the Household of God, which is a
treatment about more... I think she uses the term severe autism or severe disability. Is that
right? I want to use the terminology that she uses.

Krysia Waldock
Yeah. That sounds like the terminology should would that she would use that she has used
in past work, so I believe.

Ian Lasch
And that's the that deals with several quote unquote severely disabled autistic people and
their experiences in the church. So that's another good one. And from a perspective that we
don't often hear from in some of the literature and then last is Ruth Dunster's, the Autism of
GxD, which I know we've also, I think we've also highlighted on the podcast or have we not,
am I thinking of cat?

Krysia Waldock
I think we have highlighted this book. Actually, I don't think we've had a chat about it, but I
think it's certainly been one that has been discussed on the podcast and also kind of
between members of CAT as well. And I guess what's really interesting in your list as a
couple that I wanted that I thought of it were quite similar, but others that I thought of were
quite different. So Leon’s book is fantastic, and when I was reading it for the conversation
that we had, that was the CAT episode back in October and it's such a fantastic book and it's
really up to date. But the other book I would recommend alongside that info, it's not - it's
disability wide. It's not autism specific, it's Erin Rafferty’s From Inclusion to Justice. It's
fantastic and it gets as it's really gets to the social justice person in me, there's some - it's a
book that I read for some of the work that I've been doing, and some of the stories that Erin
picks up in the in her research echo some of the stories that I've picked up when I've been
doing my PhD. And it's just so well written and really brings to the heart of actually what the
difference between inclusion and justice, which I really, really enjoy it. And I also really
enjoyed Naomi Lawson Jacobs and Emily Richardson's At the Gates, and as a little spoiler,
Emily and Naomi are hopefully going to be joining us in April, so keep an eye on for that
podcast episode to come out. And even go through that again is not necessarily autism
specific. There's an awful lot of justice stuff that's actually really, really pertinent to
neurodivergent people really specifically, and I guess the other resource, even though it's
not a book, I would recommend the Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and
Disability because it has some fantastic it kind of edge fringe, pioneering thinking and work
from creative works. It has academic work. It has art poetry in it's really eclectic in the
variety of different types of knowledge and experiences that it shares. And there's been
some fantastic stuff on autistic people's experiences and other experiences in that journal.

Ian Lasch
That's cool.

Krysia Waldock
Umm, I know we will also talk thinking about podcasts and kind of other media as well.

Ian Lasch
That's right.

Krysia Waldock
And I know when we were just chatting before we joined Ian, you had a you had a friend
who does some TikTok stuff.

Ian Lasch
Yes. Uh, actually, a seminary classmate and friend of mine is, I think, sort of a TikTok
celebrity. She has become disabled as a result of a long COVID and has used Tik T.O.K to sort
of document that journey and sort of raise awareness around what she's been going through
and by extension, what a lot of people are going through and so her name is Kate Harmon
Siberine and @kateharmonsiberine is actually her TikTok name. So she has a pretty like I
say, a pretty wide following and it's been, it's been cool to see her talk about you talk very
candidly about what she's gone through and the ways in which, UM, her life has been made
more difficult by virtue of this per se, but also by virtue of the way that society treats her
differently. And so that's a really that's a that's a good resource and one that I would happily
recommend. There's also another there is another podcast called the Accessible Altar that I
listened to, and it deals specifically with disability more broadly. But disability and ministry
specifically, hence the title and they've had a number of different guests on one Full
disclosure, I was one of them, but they've talked about the various ways in which disability
affects ministry and the ways in which ministry contexts are accepting of inclusive of
embracing of or not of disability. And so that's been a really good conversation to be to, to

Krysia Waldock
In fact, both of your recommendations remind me of someone who I know from other kind
of roles I have and she's on TikTok as @JemmaBrown8 and she's done some fantastic -
Jemma has done some fantastic advocacy work as a neurodivergent blind creator and also
activist in that space. And I think although I think TikTok can get a really bad pep, it's actually
really good for getting those bite sized bits of information out to a really, really broad, umm,
community, because a lot of the information and kind of the books and the some of the
podcasts we're talking about, you have to kind of be in the know sometimes to know that
they're there. I find and I think we're in the privileged position that we do know that they're
there so we can discern which ones we want to read and which ones we don't and which is
why I have, I find, kind of the online activism quite important as well.

Ian Lasch
Yeah, it also, I mean there's a, there's a I think in terms of raising awareness and raising
acceptance it that online advocacy is really important because especially for something like
TikTok, which is a video based medium, you actually put a human face to a lot of this, which
doesn't happen with the book or with a journal article or something like that. And the thing
that affects people most. I mean, you hear this time and again that the thing that changes
people's minds is they finally have a personal experience with it. Well, finding someone on
TikTok and hearing from them isn't the same as having a friend is going through it. Or
anything like that. But it is, it does offer a sort of personal lens that I think brings it home to
people in a way that words on a page simply aren't capable of. And so it - yeah, I think can
be even more effective in some ways, especially for the average person that doesn't have
experience with it, right.

Krysia Waldock
And I think especially where we work often involves researchers and we kind of write for the
academic audience and sometimes we use language that isn't necessarily all that accessible
to Joe Bloggs on the street or Joe Bloggs in church.
Ian Lasch
Krysia Waldock
Joe Bloggs, who attends mosque on Friday, Joe Bloggs, who goes to whatever kind of
community or congregation or religious space and I think it's this is why I'm really pro kind of
us breaking down our research and disseminating it in really different creative ways. I know
as part of a project that Leon was part of, he created like Zine as part of it. And I think almost
in a way, although that's not really a recommended book, I would almost recommend the
way that he disseminated some of his findings for that project on autism and autistic
people's experiences of worship.

Ian Lasch
Yeah, that's and that's the - that's the tricky part, like and one of the things that you'll find if
you read book length treatments is a lot of the same ground gets tread because you can't
assume anyone has the same knowledge base, so you end up talking about definitions of
autism. What do we mean when we say autism? How do we refer to autistic people? Are
they autistic people or people with autism?

Krysia Waldock

Ian Lasch
And all of this ground that you have to cover in order to make sure everybody's starting from
the same foundation and in reality not that that's a bad thing. Not that that's not that
there's anything wrong with that, but sometimes what people need is to have a human
being that they can, that they understand and that they that they recognize saying no, don't
call me person with autism.

Krysia Waldock
Ian Lasch
Call me an autistic person, and when you hear it from an individual, not that that needs to
be persuasive or not. That that's universally accepted or anything. But it is, I think, more
convincing than looking at survey data for a lot of people, right?

Krysia Waldock

Ian Lasch

Krysia Waldock
And I guess also in regards to kind of a lot of the ground setting we do when we write about
it in academia, we can sometimes we are asked to write things up when at necessarily all
that comfortable with saying autism is XYZ when actually for us all being autistic is not you
know necessarily what's on might be written in the DSM five or the ICD 11 it's it's it's it has
the struggles and there's joy as well. And one of the words I've used when doing training
before is it's - it's stimmy to be autistic and had to explain. It's obviously seeing all the
patterns and the colours and all the sensory stuff. Actually yes, there are lots of barriers, but
it's not inherently - it's how I experience.

Ian Lasch

Krysia Waldock
the world, it's not inherently a bad thing, and I think that's what I've some of the certainly
reading Leon’s book. It was really, really respectful and I really appreciated that. And Erin’s as
well. So I think there's some really good resources which are pulling on the of breaking
things down the way from this academic mould of this is how we should describe autistic
people, ADHDers, people with dyslexia, you know, it's opening and challenging the
discussion that's going on.

Ian Lasch
Right. And this is I mean this is the exciting thing about being part of this is this is a really I
mean this is a this is a conversation and a subdiscipline that's really sort of in its infancy that
really has a long way to go until there's a there's a sort of critical consensus around a lot of
these topics. Not that they're ever needs to be necessarily, but the, but the fact is, there's
still. There's still a lot to be a lot of ground to be covered when it comes to autism in general,
and autism and theology, because we just don't. There just isn't that much out there
because we've only been studying this for 20-25 years, really.
One of the books I meant to mention too that I'm that I haven't yet read, but I'm excited
about is Lisa D Powell's the Disabled God Revisited, which again is one that's not about
autism and theology per se, but is a sort of expansion of Nancy Eiesland's really foundational
disability theology texts, the disabled, God, and. And so I'm really excited to read that that
just came out last year and I think you know all the reviews and everything that I've read
have been pretty universally positive.

Krysia Waldock
That's really good. And actually that's another one or my to read list my to read list is
absolutely huge at the moment, especially where I'm tying up a thesis.

Ian Lasch

Krysia Waldock
I'm having to kind of be quite intentional with what I'm reading and what I'm not reading,
but that is certainly one that I think is definitely on my I want to have a look at that.

Ian Lasch

Krysia Waldock
I want to see what it's like and how it positions they people and things and it.

Ian Lasch
So yeah, I mean, there's just a lot. There, there is a lot out there and especially knowing that
autism and theology touches on disability theology more broadly, there is a lot of material
out there. But at the same time, compared to some other subdisciplines, there isn't right
there. Just isn't that much because it's so young. So that's one of the things that I'm most
excited about is that we get to see this develop and play hand in it.

Krysia Waldock
Definitely. And I guess it would also be really great to hear what our listeners think, what
books say, like what books they would recommend, any other podcasts or resources as well,
because I'm very aware we we're just scratching the surface of some of the resources and all
sorts of things that people might know. So if you'd like to let us know about your favourite
book or resource, and don't hesitate to get in contact with us at @autism theology on X or
Instagram, or to send us an email at It's been great chatting today with Ian
and we look forward to our next CAT episode.