Adapting to Autism

Catherine Bown Drewry writes about Rhythms of Grace for Building Faith:

David [a pseudonym] is on the Autism spectrum. His family tried coming to church when David was small, but found the noise and crowds to be unbearable for him. Craig has a diagnosis of Asperger’s. Once he was old enough to make his feelings emphatically clear, he refused to attend church at all. It was too loud, too long, too crowded, and the snacks were “lame.”

Maria, who lives with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, was asked to leave another church because of her outbursts and unpredictable behavior. Jeremy, his sister Elise, and their father all have ADHD. The need to be able to move around was important for them, and for Mack, who has Alzheimer’s. All these stories remind us that for some people “regular” church is physically uncomfortable.

Rhythms of Grace is known as an “adaptive” service, and is especially designed for those on the Autism spectrum. Ample time is given to settle in, and to transition between sections of the service. Visual, auditory, and verbal cues are given. Activity is intentionally included.

It turns out that Rhythms of Grace is also very welcoming to individuals with other diagnoses like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, ADHD, Down Syndrome, and neuro-typical children with ordinary wiggly squigglies, as well as youth and adults.

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