- Did you know that while 80% of people, in general, polled say that they attend church at least annually, only 20% of people w/ disabilities say the same? The parable of the Great Banquet admonishes us to bring in people with disabilities, as they are eve more open to the gospel than others may be. We, as Christians, need to do a better job of this. Most churches are afraid of or unsure how to do this. Disability ministry can provide special assistants, special classes, or even just respite for parents to be able to worship, as well as benefiting the rest of the congregation in so many ways. Joni and Friends is a disability organization who, among many other things, trains churches to meet the spiritual needs of people/families with disabilities. You can get more info at www.joniandfriends.org.
- —Guest Michelle
- I actually stopped going to church some time ago because it was just to difficult to keep my son quiet & still and the comments of the other church goers not understanding. They told my son he wasn't allowed in the younger children's class because he was to old for it, not understanding he might be 7 but is mentally at the 4-5 age level. I've thought about finding a new church, just haven't yet.
A SF Bay Area Options
- Find a service with classes specifically for children with special needs! For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, see http://www.bacc.cc/v2/content/misc/SRM/index.htm
- —Guest Caroline
Be Not Afraid!
- We sit as close to the front as we can so they can see. We don't hesitate to whisper in their ear when something important is happening and actually use the worship time as religious education. We encourage them to pray common prayers out loud with the congregation (they know them all - ain't autism grand...) The regular pew sitters love our boys and marvel at how "good" they are. Of course, non-messy snacks, water, and a prefered object are also part of the equation. Mostly, don't be afraid! Your children have as much right as anyone else to worship with you!
- —Guest ireneswval
Church Services Can Be Achieved!
- When my kids were little I always had drawing stuff for them or a little non-messy snack. They were instructed to find something in the sanctuary they wanted to draw or write a story about. My kids loved this, and they started when they couldn't sit or comprehend and got overloaded with the stimulus of a lot of people around them. We always sat in the back to escape when needed, bathroom breaks, water fountain, or intervention. No one ever gave us the evil eye because I was prepared. We very rarely had to leave church, because we had a strategy that allowed everyone to benefit in their own way. I would talk with them before and after services to prepare them for the transition and then wrap-up to get their feedback. It actually gave them a voice and showed their feelings mattered. We even laughed about funny things and it became a positive experience for all of us eventually. Now, as teens, they want to sit up front and are involved more. All things are possible when you stay faithful!
- —Guest mominNY
Link collection & sample social stories
- Here's my collection of links related to worship and autism (or other special needs). It includes some sample social stories. http://www.autism-pdd.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=19276&KW=church%2Drelated
- I've also found that the type of service you attend may hold your child's attention. A more traditional worship service may hold your OCD kid because the liturgy does not change and is reliable, but your ADHD kid may need some ACTION! My kids tend to like services that have drama included and more modern music that they like. Some larger churches have services that are designed for the kids -- they can jump and praise to their hearts' content without upsetting the non-toddler crowd. We also sit on the edge so we can make quick escapes when needed. Try to utilize the boredom bags many churches offer, or make your own.
- —Guest debfjeld