Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Things Autism Parents Fear About Church

It is not easy for parents of children with autism to start attending church. It is not as simple as just packing the kids in the car and heading out. There is a huge psychological barrier before they even leave their house. Churches should be aware of the fear that parents experience. Here are five things that parents may be afraid of if they do bring their child to church.

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1. Will their child make noise? It is common for children to make noise at what others may consider inappropriate times. That noise may be questions, scripting from movies, moaning, humming or yelping. How will the church respond? Will there be dirty looks? Will they be asked to leave?

2. Will their child be bullied? Just because it is Sunday school does not mean that other children are going to be any more understanding. Children with autism look "normal" and they are easily the targets of teasing.

3. Will their child have a meltdown? An autistic meltdown is much more than a temper tantrum. Sometimes they can be predicted, sometimes they can't. They often happen when expectations are disappointed. There are few things as humiliating as having your child having a public meltdown. We have experienced it many times.

4. Will their child be safe? Some children with autism are flight risks. Stress makes them want to run and to run fast. They are smart and so as soon as an adult turns their head, they are gone. Is bringing the child to church going to put their life in danger?

5. Will their child be treated with respect? Some children with autism who are nonverbal may seem low functioning. Adults do and say things around them assuming the child can't understand. However, these children are often very intelligent and understand everything that is said. All children should be treated with respect, no matter what level of disability they may have.

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