Note: Since my Adulting Post on Faith this week was let out, the video embedded in that post has gone viral across the American newswires. Here we are going to talk a lot about faith communities, and I understand that some in the Autism community do not believe in such, so just a heads up.
Exclusion. It hurts. More so because if you do not “fit the mold” of what society expects you to fit in. Sit in a seat, not move around, be quiet you get the picture. Society in many cases lives on these fifty plus years old morals of order in any type of assembly. However, sometimes not only autists but any individual alike needs to move about to relieve their stresses have done that. It’s us being us and we need to express who we want to be. It may look scary and not normal by authorities or leaders; however, it is a necessary point of being able to cope with whatever barrier that one may have in the environ that they are in.
So when I have seen the video of the Catholic Baptism and the autistic being screamed at by the Priest and being commanded to “Take him out”, it tears my heart that in 2020 that we still treat people with autism in this manner. We as any faith community should honor or respect all disabilities, orientations, etc. If a faith community wants to draw up their weekly need for budget and part of that should be being inclusive to all who wish to seek faith in your congregation. We are people too, we oftentimes don’t appear as what you are conveying to us, we don’t comprehend, but we pick up and hear what is being said to us. Likewise, when you make snide comments or snub us for being who we are, we also hear that.
We just want a place to come (or see) and be accepted and have a spiritual understanding. We oftentimes are not the big tithers that you want or can contribute to the congregation a great deal, but people with autism and all disabilities have the right to attend church and follow all practices that everyone else worshipping has the right to. It is a freedom and many denominational governing bodies should have inclusive guidance in this regard. We are already feeling like being marginalized because of our troubles brought forth by our lives through no fault of our own.
In America, we are celebrating 30 years this summer of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. While much concentration in accessibility is placed on the physical access to a building, part of the ADA is having alternatives for persons with mental, cognitive and other impairments such as vision and hearing. Progress has been made in many areas; however, the cognition is quite scaled back and is usually placed in the rear of the thought palate. We know it takes money to get what you want, and some congregations have done this by leaps and bounds. COVID-19 has helped by broadcasting services on streaming services and that is great, but we yearn to be accepted in other ministries of your congregations, whether it is a work party, bible study, men’s breakfast, event. Often, people with Autism thrive for friendships and this can usually be connected in the faith communities and are a great resource if one is inclusive.
Lastly, one should be aware of the overseeing entities of a church, whether it be a district or conference of that denomination. If not, view the church’s website to see what their views on certain viewpoints to be sure that you do not have any conflicts with the beliefs of the church and your beliefs. Now with the COVID-19 and the ability to often time view services live, you can get a feel of what congregations have to offer. Don’t give up hope on your faith, you will find it.