Monday, June 27, 2016

What I Would Look For in an Autism-Friendly Church

Autism Friendly Church
My goal for this blog and my book of the same name is to help churches become more autism-friendly. When I write, I alternate between wearing my pastor hat and my autism dad hat. This post will be written with my dad hat.

If I was looking for a church (which I'm not since I'm a pastor) and if my children with autism still lived with us (they currently live in a group home), this is what I would look for in a church.

1. Safety. Our son is a runner and has escaped many places and has had numerous close calls. We would have to know there was adequate supervision.
2. Patience. Our children make strange noises. We are not interested in getting the stinkeye from people who do not appreciate the sounds they are making.
3. Respect. We would not just want our children accepted, we would want them respected as human beings created in the image of God.
4. Integration. Our children cannot do everything others can do and that is fine. But we would not want them hidden off so that real ministry could take place without them. We would want them integrated into the life of the church as much as was feasible.
5. Practical help. Being an autism-friendly church is more than what happens on a Sunday morning. We would love it if people from the church gave practical assistance, whether that was respite, taking out our other kids for events or something else.

These are the ideas that come to my mind. If you have a family with autism at your church, perhaps it is time to ask them what they need for you to be an autism-friendly church.

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