Absolutely. Even if the child or adult with autism doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of their religion or spirituality, by law they have the right to connect to a higher being and/ or attend a church. Those that do understand what is going on absolutely should find a connection to a higher being; it can help in times of great frustration or sorrow.
Church is also an excellent place to socialize. The person with autism can watch others, see how they interact and experience his or her own interactions with others. Parents can teach others about autism and what it means as a parent to cope with its challenges. There are many opportunities for support in a church or place of worship, and that often makes quite a difference in the lives of the families who may have a more challenging autistic relative.
Most religions and places of worship believe that their deity or deities have a purpose and a place for ASD and special needs people. For the higher functioning ones, this helps them feel better about themselves knowing that something greater made them, looks out for them, and cares for them exactly as they are. For the lesser functioning ones, the sense of acceptance is something they crave, and which all people crave really. They certainly get that feeling by attending worship services, and if they don’t, they are in the wrong place of worship.
Even agnostics and atheists believe that everyone has purpose and a place in this world. They too preach a love message, and want others to know they are connected, even if it isn’t through a deity. Church is more about a community connection than anything else, and it’s the same no matter what you believe.
Holy scriptural teachings, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindus or other, have a way of working in one’s mind and working on one’s heart. The nonverbal people with ASD can still hear, and it is often thought that they can transcend their “shortcomings” and still connect to their God or gods. Certainly, if there’s truth to that, why would anyone want to deny another the right to hear about their spiritual beliefs and why they should believe them?
Most parents who have children on the spectrum still expect to have their children with them at their place of worship. Depending on whether or not there are additional helpers/ assistance in place, these kids often have a good time in Sunday school, and that encourages them in other areas of their lives as well. If they have to sit with their parents in “big people church”, that’s not such a bad thing either because that sense of family togetherness really gets through to the kids. They do hear what is being said, even if they have no reaction or no comment afterwards.
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