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LOCAL > Likening of autistic kids to atheists causes fury

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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'Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section for faith in their brains,' sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said.  AA photo

'Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section for faith in their brains,' sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said. AA photo

Dilara Sarı Dilara Sarı dilara.sari@hdn.com.tr

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 for 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.”

He also reportedly said atheism was a form of autism.

Kaya’s statement caused a strong backlash in the country, with individuals and associations speaking out against his remarks. The president for the Association of Protection of Autistic Children (ODER), Engin Güngör, told the Hürriyet Daily News that the remarks were “unfortunate.”

“I do not know what purpose the statement serves,” Güngör said, adding that the media should also be sensitive toward the exposure of such statements.

“This is a statement that could upset around 3.5 to 4 million people,” Güngör said. “We believe that the press should feel the responsibility of that as well, and should look better into these things before publishing them.”

Kaya told the Daily News that his remarks had been taken out of context, with news reports “fixating on autism.”

“The message I wished to give was not about autism and atheism, but to highlight that these children cannot communicate, cannot form empathy, live in their own worlds and are isolated. I meant that we should take them out of their isolation with proper therapy methods,” he said.

Kaya said development came in layers and that as autistic children developed further socially and mentally, a dimension of faith would also be developed.

“I meant that they were disabled, in a way, like a hearing disability, because they are not aware of why people believe. I did not say that all autistic people are atheists,” Kaya said, adding that faith would “normally” exist in kids.

Therapy sessions 'to make believers’

Kaya also said they would turn autistic children into believers through sessions that would be offered for free at therapy centers in the future.

The sessions, which have been confirmed by the Culture Houses of Adana’s Yüreğir Municipality, are set to start in June and will be able to serve over 30 children. The same houses will also offer further therapy sessions for children with disabilities.

When asked whether or not the houses aimed at turning autistic children into believers, a Culture House official confirmed the matter, but Kaya denied such objectives.

“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.”

April/22/2013

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Rocket Dog

4/30/2013 4:11:11 AM

So in essence he's admitting that religious belief resides in the brain, thereby making it a mental disorder. Makes sense to me!

lee russel

4/28/2013 5:18:21 AM

working with children with autism. I would say this is the most ignorant statement that I have ever ever ever come across, to the point it is laughable. there are children with autism who attends church, attend the mosque and are students of religion, i wouldn't be surprised if the most brilliant of our religious scholars were possibly on the spectrum. dr. temple grandin, is autistic she believes in god. So who are these atheistic people talking about on behalf of a community. haha.

Selma Al

4/27/2013 11:55:04 AM

A believer in God can't put his/her hand on the reason of why he/she truly believes. No doubt, thinking and reflecting has a lot to do with it, but what about the heart? We don't know much about how these kids think or what they truly feel, so how can one make " believers" out of them; becoming an atheist is also a choice in my opinion. I also believe that God judges people according to their abilities, so we shouldn't worry much about these beautiful children.

Agnes Smith

4/26/2013 9:41:20 AM

Who is the autistic one? Looking for promotion maybe.......

Indy Eleven

4/25/2013 10:47:24 PM

Quote: “I meant that they were disabled, in a way, like a hearing disability, because they are not aware of why people believe. I did not say that all autistic people are atheists,” Kaya said, adding that faith would “normally” exist in kids. ... “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.” /Quote Why is he fixated on equating a mental condition with belief in religion.

mara mcglothin

4/25/2013 10:44:48 PM

KEDI I have seen it several times, or what I thought was the pulling of an article from the previous pages, but I never considered that they were re"titling" them or editing them. hmmmmm Very interesting.

Murat

4/25/2013 4:34:14 PM

What is next, burning witches, cutting off hands?

Kedi Öztürk

4/25/2013 8:39:04 AM

Strange this re-writing/editing of the original article. Never saw that before here. What I remember is that the line "atheism is a form of autism" was much more emphasized in the original article.

Rorschach ~

4/24/2013 11:18:42 PM

Mara - I think they actually re-wrote/edited the original article. My first comments were to the original, but they are showing up here in this particular "version."

K M

4/24/2013 6:18:13 PM

My word, what a backward man.
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