Autism goes to Church

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So today is World Autism Awareness Day. You’ll be seeing lots of blue here and there, a reminder that we’re on to this condition and dealing with it. That doesn’t make it easier if you’re a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, but you also know you’re not alone. That counts for something.

At church we’ve been doing some educating around the whole issue, raising awareness especially with youth. But the most important thing took place tangentially, as a part of our typical spiritual formation and worship.

Every year we have a class for baptismal candidates that continues for about twelve weeks. During that time the young people meet with pastors, mentors and attend a special retreat. Most usually they make their “confession of faith” – own that faith that has been carried for them by the church and family to date – and it is public, in the context of worship. This year, since we now have a special program that includes children with disabilities called All God’s Children, the question presented itself: How do we include our children with special needs, often autism, in this communal formation and ritual?

The answer to that question is two-fold. First, we created an adapted confirmation class, one session to cover main ideas. Secondly, and most importantly I think, we decided to include them in the public profession of faith in worship right along with all the other children. And we did. Yesterday, on Palm Sunday, at the close of the service, all of our children and their mentors lined up to receive a single question and provide an answer. The question, in its doctrinal form is that of the so called good confession: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God?” But the way we posed it to each child varied, depending on how they were able to understand it.

When we came to some of our kiddos on the autistic spectrum, we essentialized it: “Do you love Jesus?” Well, yes they do and said so. And if there was ever a more whole celebration of the community’s embrace of Christ in the many ways we receive him than this,  I don’t know of it. There was not a dry eye in the house, including my own.

  1. NMiller says:

    No dry eyes here, either. The blessings this program continues to bring to all of us are beyond words.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Tim, thank you for finding a way to iclude kids like ours. It brings a tear to my eye knowing they have acceptance at church. I wish our church would do that. It’s important for our kids to know Jesus and what he’s done for us. Good job, my friend!

  3. David McGee says:

    It was definitely a special moment at the end of service yesterday. Proud to be a part of BCC!

  4. Vicki Conn says:

    The scene in the 11:15 service was amazing. A boy running around the front of the church while everyone else lined up and stood quietly!
    Can there be a better definition of Holy Ground than a place where all god’s children are welcome to worship God and love Jesus?

  5. Ron Krumpos says:

    There is an excellent book on autism and spirituality: “Autism and the God Connection,” by William Stillman (published by Sourcebooks Inc. 2006).

  6. Ron Krumpos says:

    There is an excellent book about autism and spirituality: “Autism and the God Connection”, by William Stillman (published by Sourcebooks Inc. 2006).

  7. Sam Wright says:

    This message from Tim was so special to me. Durring the confession of faith,one young man was asked, “And,do YOU love Jesus?” “Yes.” He replied. “Oh,I know you do!” Tim replied with a big hug. The tears started rolling! How lucky I feel to have found BCC. LOVE! For all Gods people!

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