Bringing a family to worship at church with an autistic child could present a challenge for the family as well as the child. The first day of the week, which is Sunday, is usually a time to gather together and worship at a church or a place of your choice and day.
If the family wants to attend a place of worship on the day they choose with their family, it can be done in a positive way with an autistic child. One thing to remember, churches or buildings to worship at, can be strange looking to an autistic individual from the outside as well as the inside.
Children with autism, depending on the degree or variations of the disorder, may be intimidated with the inside of the churches or worship places, due to the fact of the different sounds, such as the organ music, choirs, solo singing, musical instruments, bells and a clergy person speaking that has a different attire on that some of them wear.
When considering attending a place to worship, such as churches, with your family, with an autistic person involved, take into consideration the distance from the home to the worship area, how far it is, how long will the ride or walk take to get to the destination. Plan ahead to time the adventure so the child does not become overwhelmed with a long ride or a long wait before the service of worship starts.
Take your child and family together as a unit on several practice runs to the church to familiarize them with the surroundings and what to expect. Show them where the bathroom is, where they hang their coats, a nursery, or play room if any during the service, introduce the individual to the clergy person who is going to be officiating the service. Let the child hear some of the sounds of the music that might be played, whether it is an organ, choir, orchestra, the bells, chimes, or if the music will be played by a CD. If the officiating person has a CD of one of his or hers, past sermons or talks, ask if you can have one and take it home to the autistic individual, play it to get familiar with what is said and the tone of voice.
Show your child where you and the family will be sitting. It may be in pew, chairs, benches, or standing with a group. Allow them to see the hymnal, the pages and let them know it is a singing book. If there are candles present in front of the sanctuary, tell the child with the autistic disorder, that they are candles for light. There may be stained glass windows in the worship area, the family can explain how the colors change with the different light that shines through the stain glass.
It is imperative to visit with other people at the church, or another place of worship, and explain to the people you have an autistic child who will be attending the service with you and your family, and they should be aware of autism and what to expect if your child has outbursts or feels uncomfortable for the first few times, until they become adjusted. If other parents attending have children who do not have the disorder of autism, it is wise to inform them of your child who does, and what to expect if the children want to interact with communication skills, or play skills.
Remember, be patient with your child with autism, if you choose, as a family to worship in a church. It can be an enjoyable experience for both the family and the child that will become a positive routine.
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