Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It results from neurological differences that affect development in social interaction and communication.
Create ways for people on the autism spectrum to share their unique gifts and talents
People with autism represent a wide diversity of ability, from individuals with intellectual disability and no speech, to highly verbal individuals with exceptional abilities in specific areas and challenges in others (informally described as having Asperger syndrome), and every combination in between. The common ground across the autism spectrum is the presence of limitations in communication and forming relationships.
People on the autism spectrum often take comfort in repetitive behaviors and restricted interests because, by definition, they find communication and social interaction challenging.
Others may be confused when encountering these unusual behaviors, and that confusion can lead to rejection. Sunday school teachers, peers, and other adults have a vital role to play when it comes to accepting and including people on the autism spectrum in the community of faith.
Douglas Wood (left) and his father lead an outdoor worship service at Broadway Church of the Brethren in Virginia. Douglas, who has autism, is a photographer for the church.
Promote social inclusion of children with autism
Teach rather than lecture or punish, if undesirable behavior arises
Share information about the disability with peers
Train a peer buddy to model appropriate responses
Create ways for people with autism spectrum differences to share their unique gifts and talents
Autism resources for faith communities
ADN's resources on autism: explore the links on this page.
training videos are available
from CLC Network, presented by Barbara J. Newman. Order from CLC Network.
Autism: A Christian Response
Behavior Management Playing Field
Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities. A version of this presentation is also available on
Make Heaven a Noisier Place: Including Children with Disabilities