The Autism Spectrum


The Autism Spectrum

understanding brains that work differently

two adults look at a phone together while using fidgets

Photo by Hiki App on Unsplash

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. People with autism represent a wide diversity of ability, from individuals with intellectual disability and limited speech to highly verbal individuals with exceptional abilities in specific areas and challenges in others and every combination in between. The common ground across the autism spectrum is the barriers in communication and forming relationships. 

People on the autism spectrum often take comfort in repetitive behaviors and restricted interests because they find communication and social interaction challenging. People without autism (or "Neurotypicals") may be confused when encountering these unusual behaviors, and that confusion sometimes leads 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.

Tips to promote inclusion in the Sunday School classroom:

  • Teach desired behaviors, rather than lecturing or punishing.
  • Educate peers about the experience of someone with autism.       
  • Encourage a Friend to learn with an autistic person and focus on building that relationship.
  • Welcome the sharing of gifts of everyone in the class, especially autistic students.

Use the links to the right to read stories of autistic people in the faith community and explore specific resources for nurturing a healthy faith experience for people who are neurodivergent.

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