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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Church and autism

I am not terribly religious. I go back and forth between being an agnostic and having some rather wavering belief. I'm being totally honest here. But something I do want is for my family to go to church, my children to learn the basic Bible stories, the Golden Rule, the community that comes with having a church, the music, the reason for holidays like Christmas, etc. However, with a child with autism, this is pretty much impossible to do as a family. I've searched the web, I've asked around, I've tried churches, I've put some effort into this. But church and a lower functioning child with autism just don't mix. Sunday schools are not equipped to deal with her. I could go to church and stay in the nursery with her. But that kind of defeats the purpose. I want that hour to renew myself, to reflect, to listen. And I want to do that with Tony. I want my sons to be with me. I could try bringing Janey into church with me. RIGHT.... Not only would I not get anything from the service, but no-one else in the entire church would. She would scream, run, yell, raise a fuss like you would just not believe. I've tried. I could go to church by myself, but that is not what I am looking for. I want what most people can find fairly readily---a church that welcomes our family, that has a Sunday School or nursery for that hour so I can listen, that will welcome ALL our family members. I think if some denomination really wanted to grow, a great way to do that would be to welcome families with autistic kids, and advertise that. This is another case where the current wider definition of autism hurts. I once saw a publication put out by a church about welcoming autistic members. Well, it was obvious they meant people with Aspergers or very high functioning autism---verbal people. They talked about issues that are not Janey's issues, not about how to just keep a child happy so the parents could go to church, or the siblings could. Or how to possibly include Janey somehow. I am not counting on her learning a lot of religion. But she could and does learn hymns, and that would be something I would love. I bet she could learn some simple Bible verses, without probably understanding what she was saying. And I KNOW she could feel the love that a true church community could give, and I KNOW I would be helped by being able to go to church, as we used to regularly before our church closed, right around the time it also became impossible to really go to church anyway. That's my Sunday morning thought for today.


Kim said...

For quite a few years we couldn't go to church because Abby was terrified of organ music. sigh. But she has been over that for quite a few years now and LOVES church. We go to a church that has lots of music and she'll even raise her voice once in a while and has completed the confirmation program. Remember she's non-verbal - once people got used to her they pretty much accepted her. My advice is to keep trying. Maybe next year it will be easier - geez - you're posts have me remember so many things...thank lets me know we've come a long way...eventually you'll get there Abby will be 17 this's gone so fast!

Suzanne said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement! It's great to hear that it worked out in time with Abby. The organ music was the one part Janey DID like---it was anything quieter that she objected to! I love hearing from people with girls older than Janey---I'm going to need all of you so much as time goes by!