Autism – Does Your Church Have A Plan?
By Amber Monroe
Question: What is your church doing to meet the needs (and coming needs) of autistic children and adults in the community? What accommodations does your church provide for classes and service? What special family activities are being put together as both an opportunity for members to feel acknowledged and enjoy themselves as well as provide a positive outreach for the community? Do you offer counseling for parents whose marriages are strained from meeting the constant demands of caring for their young or adult children who are on the spectrum? Is there any respite offered? Are there women available to volunteer an hour or so a week of their time to help with families in crisis? What are you doing, churches?
The rate of autism is currently on an upward trajectory, and with there being little research and little funding going into causes of Autism–or the westdenial of what has already been proven, we are in fact on the verge of a national crisis of families without support as well as severely Autistic children aging out of services when they reach adulthood. We are entering into a time when more and more parents are scrambling to find care not for their elderly parents who will most likely pass on before them, but for their special needs CHILDREN who will most likely outlive them. Read that again, and let it sink in. The weight of that singular thought alone requires a special kind of spiritual support. This is a HUGE need, and while most people do understand that this type of extended care will primarily come from insurance, and (possibly) the government, the church needs to step up its game and be ready to do its part to support families in at least a couple of the ways mentioned. It may not seem urgent now, but at this rate it will become that way–and sooner than anyone wants to imagine. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. So again, I ask you, churches: Where is your focus? What are you doing to usher in change in your community?