Autism in church

Here are some great resources promoting disability inclusion in the church.  While written by and for different denominations, the information and suggestions would work across most church communities.

The Diocese of Oxford has put together a very thorough 23-page booklet called Welcoming Autistic people in our churches and communities.  It’s a very practical set of guidelines, explaining some of the features of Autism, and some quick low-cost changes that can make a huge difference for Autistic people (eg change fluorescent lighting, check noise levels, give clear instructions, explain any complicated language either at the time or later, warn of physical events, have a quiet/rest area available etc).  I especially liked the “hard” and “easy” descriptions of an Autistic person visiting church.

Based on the above booklet, is this checklist for How Autism Friendly is your church?  Readers are encouraged to consider the place and environment, events and what is going on, and people and social activities.

This clip, by Rev Malcolm Duncan, senior pastor at Goldhill Baptist Church, is fantastic- says it all.  I highly recommend listening to it.  He talks about how disabled people are treated in the church, and the church’s mission to, with and alongside people with disabilities. People with disabilities are not first and foremost people who have something wrong with them, they are sons and daughters of the living God. Inclusion isn’t about ramps and loos, as important as they are, it’s about heart and attitude, it’s about a change of mindset that sees people, not as objects of charity, but as equals.

Making churches accessible– this short article has some simple suggestions for how to make church services accessible for people with learning disabilities.

“Evidence suggests that churches that have actively made their worship services accessible to people with learning disabilities the services become accessible to many others; people with poor literacy, for those whom English is not the first language, people from un-churched backgrounds who have no experience of Christian language, and increasingly for people with dementia.”

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