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Anabaptist Disabilities Network
According to the Autism Society of America, autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It results from a neurological disorder that affects development in social interaction and communication. The most common categories within the autism spectrum are
A wealth of resources on autism has the particular needs of faith communities in mind. Explore some of the possibilities below. See also ADNet's Asperger Syndrome page.
Autism Resources from ADNet
Teaching Tip: Puppets and Children with Autism
, by Maria Witmer-Rich. This article was included in ADNet's July 2012 issue of Connections Newsletter.
"Including Children with Autism"
Training DVDs from CLC Network
Autism: A Christian Response
Presented by Barbara J. Newman. Produced by CLC Network. 55 minutes. This session will explore God's "knitting pattern" for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders, discuss som of the differences you might see, and give you some practical tools for inclusion of children and adults with ASD in the life of your church. Order from CLC Network.
Behavior Management Playing Field
Presented by Barbara J. Newman. Produced by CLC Network. 55 minutes. Explore strategies you can implement surrounding behavior management issues in your home or church. By the end, your idea tool box will be over-flowing! Order from CLC Network.
Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities
Presented by Barbara J. Newman. Produced by CLC Network. 55 minutes. With some modifications, teachers, volunteers and mentors can implement low-cost tools to best support children and youth who struggle with attending, interpreting sensory input, reading, and writing -- enabling them to experience the full life of their church, while also utilizing their gifts. Order from CLC Network.
Make Heaven a Noisier Place: Including Children with Disabilities
Presented by Barbara J. Newman. Produced by CLC Network. 55 minutes. The most important and powerful key to including children with disabilities is giving God-honoring information to peers and volunteers. Learn practical strategies for preparing your congregation ot eagerly receive those with disabilities into the body of Christ. Order from CLC Network.
Now back in print - in English or Spanish!
Autism and Faith: A Journey Into Community. This unique guide is the product of two years of work by The Autism and Faith Task Force in New Jersey. The Task Force is a joint effort of The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC).
A new chapter offers tips on responding to challenging behaviors
Autism and Your Church by Barbara J. Newman is a resource from Friendship Ministries. This workbook offers practical ways to welcome and include individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) into the full life of a congregation.
Autism and Your Church Training DVD by Barbara Newman produced by Faith Alive Christian Resources
Additional Autism Resources
Autism & Children’s Ministry, a recorded introductory Webinar for Ministry Leaders & Volunteers, hosted by Nella Uitvlugt, Executive Director, Friendship Ministries.
"Making room" is one of the signs of true Christian community. It is not only to open one's door and one's church to someone. It is to make room in one's heart. Making room for that person to be and to grow; where that person knows that he or she is accepted just as they are, with their gifts and their faults.
"Autism in a Word. Two little girls, Rhema and Hope. Rhema has autism and a seizure disorder. Here we share their story and what God is teaching us on the journey."
Making Sense of Autism: Two twenty-eight minute television episodes produced by Joni and Friends. Episode 1: Dispelling the myths. Episode 2: How can the church support families with autism? How can including individuals with autism bless the church?
From Autism Society of America. "The Christian Perspective": Tips for supporting inclusion , by Terri Connolly
If you hear Nick vocalizing, he's just worshiping: "Our Family & Church," an article from The Lutheran, the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This is a letter from the family of a young man with autism to their congregation, helping them to understand their son's behavior and support his participation in their faith community.
From About.com: Autism. Attending Religious Services with an Autistic Person , by Lisa Jo Rudy
Welcoming Those with Autism and Asperger's in our Churches and Communities. 28-page booklet by Ann Memmott, prepared for the Church of England. Includes:
Dr. Karla Kay Akins, educator, pastor, and mother of twin boys with autism, writes about helping children with autism to be integrated into Sunday school and worship:
Sunday school teachers, youth leaders and other adults have a vital role to play in promoting understanding and acceptance of children on the autism spectrum. For tips and tools to promote understanding choose from the following resources:
Explaining Autism to Children and Youth in a Church Setting (includes a review of Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities, by Barbara Newman)
Bibliography: Encouraging Acceptance of Youth on the Autism Spectrum
Encouraging Acceptance of Youth on the Autism Spectrum in Sunday School Classes and Youth Groups. The unabridged (10-pages) paper which was the source of the material in the above two resources.
Bullying Prevention. Children on the autism spectrum are four times more likely to be bullied than their peers. Here are books, articles, and websites that offer resources to help with this too-common problem that can be devastating for children on the spectrum.
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