Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Where Do Autistic Children Belong in Sunday School?

Sunday School
What I'm going to talk about here is relevant to many disabilities, but since autism is my experience, I will focus there.

If you have a child with autism in your Sunday school, should you place them with other children of their age level or with other children of their intellectual level? I'm speaking here of children who are on the severe end of the spectrum, not those on the mild end.

It might be tempting to just put the child with autism with the younger children and let them watch some Veggie Tales. That might be easier, but is that the best way?

One thing to keep in mind is that it is very difficult to determine the intellectual level of a person with severe autism. Often the communication challenges make testing intellectual capabilities quite challenging. For example, many people consider our son to be "low functioning" because he is nonverbal, but in fact he is very intelligent.

I would suggest that the best option is to put the child in an age appropriate class, but with sufficient help. Never underestimate the benefits of being able to model behaviour based on peer relationships. This can be a difficult option, especially with a lack of resources, but it should be the goal.

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