Churches and Autism: It just needed to be said

I have been thinking about this topic for a while.  I had a Phone conversation with a friend and fellow Autism mom the other day that I can’t get out of my head. You see, her daughter was told AT CHURCH! that her parents are going to hell because they don’t come to church. Forget that the church KNOWS they have a child with Autism who keeps them at home. Forget the damage done to this child, and to her relationship with her brother because she has been told her parents are going to hell because they don’t go to church because they stay home to take care of her brother.

Church is SUPPOSED to be a place where we love even the least of these, where unconditional love and Christ’s example are shown. Families are getting shunned from churches because their child is “Too disruptive” , “too un-manageable” , because their child doesn’t fit in with his/her “age appropriate group” and needs special attention. This is UNCALLED for!

Matthew 19:13-14

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.

But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I have been blessed to have found a church family who loves and accepts ALL three of my children, but it was not an easy task. We visited many churches, before giving up completely. If it was not for the persistence of a neighbor and friend, we never would have found the church we now call home.

I have been following the blog “The Inclusive church” and they have GREAT Info and resources for helping churches reach out to the growing Autism community. Earlier this month they did a series of blog posts entitled “5 Things to Know about the Mother of a Child with Autism” links to wich can be found below:

Part 1:

She may feel relief upon the receipt of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis for her child.

YES!!! It was such a relief to KNOW why my son had stopped talking, had pulled away from all displays of affection, to know that I was NOT doing anything wrong.

Part 2

She may experience the conflicting emotions of grief and hope.

And I do, it is a rollercoaster of emotions. There are days when I grieve for all the things my son may never do. It has taken me 10 years to come to the point where I LOOK for the blessings and find the humor and cling to hope, but I still grieve, I still hurt, I still cry.

Part 3

She fears exclusion.

Not only for my son but for my “Typical” children as well. His behavior can be embarrasing to my girls, and I fear that others may laugh and point, that He may never make friends

( Though if you read back through some of my recent posts, you will see he IS!!)

Part 4

She needs your respect, not your opinion or advice.

*or your pity*

Part 5

She values action over empathy.

want to help? then HELP! Reach out , offer to take him for a walk when He is getting restless. run laps racing him in the gym or in the yard ( this wears HIM out, keeps Him occupied, and makes HIM happy as well as gives me a break) reach out to HIM and HE will reciprocate, though it will take patience on your part, but he will let you into your world once he realizes you genuinely care.

I encourage anyone who is interested in reaching out more to the Autism community to check out the Inclusive church blog, and especially the posts linked above.

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

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Autism Awareness~30 Days of snapshots: Day 11

There is a side to awareness that can’t be captured in Photos.

It is the side that hurts, the LACK of awareness.

It is comments like “That child is just spoiled, there is nothing wrong with Him” or “If that was my child I would spank Him every day whether He did anything wrong or not, He would learn”. It is the judgmental stares in the grocery store as my child lays in the floor screaming because He wants to go home, or as he darts away from me and runs to the cereal Aisle for that coveted box of sugary cereal with his sisters hot on his heels trying to coax Him back to mom.

It’s Insurance companies saying that Autism is not a medical issue, but a mental health one so they wont cover a trip to the Neurologist, or an EEG.

It’s telling me I am a bad mother because He wanders away from home and finds himself in a construction site, drawn to those big, non toy versions of His trucks at home. ( it’ called elopement, and it terrifies me when he does this!)

It’s telling me that my son is autistic because ” You don’t love Him enough” or “oh it’s just bad parenting on your part”

It’s comments like “He doesn’t belong in this school, He is just not fitting in here, you will have to keep Him home until we can figure something out” ( ummm NO!)

It’s telling me that he belongs in an institution because he is going to ruin mine, my husband, and his sisters lives.

It’s telling me that you will watch my girls, but not the boy.

I could go on and on….I have heard it all. and it HURTS, it cuts deep to the Core, especially when it comes from people closest to me.

For families loving someone with Autism, awareness does NOT end on April 30th….or start on April 1st for that matter…it’s 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Autism is NOT the end of the world, it does NOT mean institutionalization. It does NOT mean the person is “stupid” or “retarded” ( and i HATE those words btw)

Don’t tell me things like “Oh he wont notice will he?” because he DOES notice!!! He can see when he gets treated different than His sisters. He KNOWS when you don’t bother to take the time to get to KNOW Him! The people who DO spend time with him, who see PAST the word Autism and see the BOY have discovered what I wish more could see, He is a loving, smart child who needs to be loved, needs to be shown he is just as special and important as his sisters are.

To quote Temple Grandin’s mother from the HBO Movie,

he is  “Different, NOT Less

In our house, my girls have coined a phrase “Normal is boring, we are ALL Different, weird is the new cool”

My Husband says “He is NOT Broke, He is just wired different”