I have been doing some informal research into how many people with autism are in churches. I had a very interesting comment that I think reflects common thinking on autism.
One pastor responded by saying, “We don’t have many children in our church.” The funny thing is that I never mentioned children in my question. I was asking about “people with autism.”
It is a common attitude to equate people with autism with children with autism. Much of the conversation I hear about including people with autism in churches is in the context of children’s ministry.
I’m not pointing any fingers. When our son was diagnosed with autism, I asked the developmental pediatrician about adults with autism. I could picture children with autism but had trouble imagining adults with autism.
However, if all goes well, children with autism develop into adults with autism. In fact, in about six months, my son will officially be an adult with autism.
I think it is great that churches are active in looking at how to integrate children with autism. But please don’t forget the adults!
These adults with autism may be nonverbal and live in a group home or may be quirky people who are socially awkward. Everyone on the spectrum deserves a place within the church.
Be autism aware but be aware of all stages of life from babies to seniors.