5 Ways to Love and Serve Your Children with Autism
According to the CDC, 1 in 54 children are on the autistic spectrum. So, depending upon the size of your ministry, odds are you’ll have one or more children that need a different type of care.
I want to be clear. I’m not an expert. I’m just a ministry leader that wants to equip you as best I can to love and care for the children in your ministry. There are so many resources available to serve children on the spectrum. I would encourage you to do your homework.
But here are 5 simple ways you can care for the autistic children in your ministry.
Remember They Are Kids
Yes, children with autism might require a different type of care, but don’t box them in. Remember that they are kids. Remember that they are made in the image of God. They are valuable and dignified and worthy. And they love a lot of the same things as their peers. They like books and movies and games and toys. Their autism is a part of who they are, but it does not define them.
Pay Attention to Their Senses
Children with autism often have a heightened awareness of sensory stimulation. For instance, a room with flashing lights and loud music might prove to be overwhelming to a child with autism. Pay attention to what seems to produce anxiety in your children and find a way to accommodate their sensory issues.
Help Them Make Friends
Facial expressions and social cues can be difficult for a child with autism to interpret. They may need your help navigating social situations and building friendships within your ministry. Encourage other children to invite them to participate in games and activities.
Establish a Routine
Children with autism often do best with a routine. It gives them a sense of safety and security. Communicate the routine (i.e., “We are going to play a couple of games before the service begins, then we’ll sing two worship songs. After that…”) and then stick to it so they understand where they are in the service and know what to expect next.
Recruit Volunteers to Give Them Focused Attention
Plan to have a volunteer dedicated to an autistic child. This volunteer can address any behavioral issues that might arise, take the child to another room if they become overstimulated, and help them navigate social situations.
There are so many incredible resources available to help equip you to love and serve an autistic child. These are just a few simple ways to begin thinking about where to begin.