I have never been formally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, but I have so many Aspie traits that I identify as one. I have been blessed with many wonderful leaders over the years in church, but I have had some very traumatic experiences with others.
I grew up making good grades in school but was very naïve as to the ways of the world. I was compliant and rarely got into any kind of trouble. My parents never gave me the “Birds and Bees” talk. I did not learn the plumbing of human reproduction until I read about it in my high school biology textbook when I was 16.
But as I turned twelve years old, well-meaning but misguided bishops began grilling me on whether I practiced something that I will euphemistically call “self-pleasuring.” I had no idea what this act was. When I asked the leaders for clarification, they begrudgingly gave me technical answers which I still could not understand. All I could discern was that this was some dark, evil practice. Warnings against this act were also frequent topics in priesthood lessons, conferences, etc.
In parallel, I was undergoing an early puberty. I began to erroneously feel deep guilt that any sexual urge or bodily reaction was related to this evil practice. I even began confessing to this “self-pleasuring” sin even though I still did not understand what it really was, nor had ever actually done it. I was able to serve a two-year mission, but even then I felt somewhat unworthy because of all the body-shaming warnings I had internalized from priesthood leaders. This was my first experience with church-related trauma. It is an example of the scrupulosity trap which can ensnare Aspies.