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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4 thoughts on “Churches and Autism: It just needed to be said

  1. This is a beautiful post and true for everyone not just churches. We need understanding and support for our children and ourselves not judgment, pity or people avoiding us because they do not know how to help or even if they can. Thanks you for writing this.

  2. I love how you have expanded and added to my blog’s series on “5 Thing to Know about the Mother of a Child with Autism”. I conducted somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 interviews over the course of 18 months…and those interviews would eventually lead to my writing this series and the content for a specific workshop I teach at ministry conferences. It is very affirming to me to know I got this right (I’m not the mother of a child with autism). I have developed a tremendous amount of respect for moms of kiddos with autism…they are the most can-do, solution oriented people. Thank you for adding to this discussion…we are making progress one church at a time. – Amy Fenton Lee

  3. Amy, It’s people like you who are a blessing in this world. Not a mother of a child with Autism, yet reaching out, and helping spread awareness, helping us know that we are not alone. Thank you so very much for your encouraging words, and for your wonderful series.

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