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General ASD Advice

  • “If you know one person with autism … you know one person with autism.” Get to know the individual and their family / carers – take time to get to know the person, who they are, how they communicate and what they like / don’t like.

  • Planning & preparation is key. People with autism can find any kind of change or transition difficult.  Preparation for any changes to routine and for what is going to happen next will be reassuring and can reduce anxiety. If the individual is going somewhere new, participating in a new activity or there is a change to ‘normal’, make this as familiar to him/her as possible by letting them know what to expect through ways that are meaningful and appropriate to them e.g. use of visuals; social story; video; photos; a written check list etc.  It is worth noting that even very subtle changes (e.g. a new layout or font of an announcement sheet) can cause distress.  

  • Keep calm – If a child or young person is displaying behaviours that challenge which are outside of your scope as a parent or volunteer, try to keep calm and seek advice or professional help if necessary.

  • Teach simple calming techniques – instead of saying “calm down”, try to show the child with autism what it means to be calm. You could try taking 5 deep breaths, counting to 10, listening to a song or going for a short walk.

  • Think creatively about alternatives and different ways to present God’s word to children and young people with autism – find out what they love or respond well to? Comic strip Bible stories, the Lego Bible or is there a sensory experience that could be used to bring a Bible story to life?

  • Visual – people with autism often have visual strengths, so what might that look like in a church setting? There are lots of ideas which incorporate visual aspects such as journaling or an art-based bible study; use of objects or images during a talk; painting a verse to memorise it or using videos e.g. The Bible Project videos on Youtube or podcasts or Apps?

  • Sometimes there are unspoken rules or expectations in church e.g. how to get back to your seat by navigating the one-way-system when taking communion! When possible, prepare the person by explaining, showing or demonstrating these.

  • If you are an organiser or leader in your church, have a think about how you can learn about autism and people’s experiences; encourage autism awareness and acceptance in your congregation and consider how to make the surroundings more autism friendly.

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