Interview with Cavan Wood, author of Entertaining Angels
Autism affects not only the autistic person, but also everyone with whom they come into contact. Families can face a long and often bewildering journey from the moment they notice the first possible signs of autism.
As the father of an autistic child himself, Cavan Wood combines real-life stories with clear information to help parents better understand autism and support their child through diagnosis and the social contexts they will encounter through life.
Entertaining Angels also shows how schools, workplaces and churches can become friendlier places for autistic people. Recognising that all people are made in the image of God, Cavan Wood offers practical tips on creating inclusive and transformative communities where all are valued and welcomed.
Cavan Wood is a teacher living in West Sussex. As a parent of an autistic child, he is passionate about supporting others and is a member of an autistic support group at his local church.
Cavan, why did you decide to write Entertaining Angels?
I could not find anything that reflected a Christian mind on autism. I wrote it because I wanted to understand what was happening to my family and help to find a way forward.
Who have you written this book for?
I have written the book for parents, church members/leaders and thinkers, to encourage a better theology and pastoral approach for people with autism.
What is the significance of the title Entertaining Angels?
The significance of the title is that the writer of Hebrews 13:2 talks about how people have ‘entertained angels without being aware’. I wanted to say that autism isn’t a problem but could be a new way for God to teach us.
How is Entertaining Angels different to other books on the subject?
It is different as it has theology at its heart. It is different as it uses story to explore emotions and ideas as well as being a practical guide for churches, parents, and those with autism.
You include several stories written in the first person in the book. Why did you write them in this format and what do you think this adds to the book?
Stories change people. Theologians and philosophers talk about ‘grand narratives’ that change the world like the life of Jesus for instance. I wanted to use stories to hook the reader and to help them see not just an intellectual problem but appreciate the emotions around this area. I wanted to use stories as I am a teacher by profession, and I know that the best way to explain ideas is to tell stories!
What one bit of advice would you give to a parent who is just starting out on the journey of autism with their child?
Find others who are making the journey – they will be there in your community, your church,
perhaps even your own family! Find support and give it to others. Fight for your child’s rights and remember that they are a person of dignity as they are created in God’s image.
You give lots of valuable help and information for parents, but this book also focuses on what churches can do to be more inclusive to autistic people. Why do you think this is so important?
Churches are often places where the marginalised can feel at home. I want to equip churches to help support people with autism and their loved ones to know that they are loved and regarded.
You talk about a theology of autism at the end of the book, which is an interesting concept. Why was this important to include as well?
I am a theology graduate and an RE teacher by training, so theology is at the heart of who I am! I remember reading something Luther had said that the best people to write a theology of woodworkers were woodworkers. He was encouraging us to find God in whatever calling or situation we were in. Theology isn’t an abstract pursuit – it is about using the wisdom of Scripture and Christian tradition to live in God’s purposes now.
Have you learnt anything new/ been reminded afresh about your own personal journey with God while writing this book?
• Humility - I see some things but not all things. I still need to learn and listen.
• The importance of being in the image of God includes all people.
• The importance of the church standing for justice - it isn’t an extra to the Gospel but at its heart.
What do you hope readers will most get out of reading this book?
I hope readers will be informed, inspired, challenged, and changed.