Asperger’s and Church

Aspergers and Church - Parenting Like HannahIf you keep up with health news, you know about 1 in every 68 children is somewhere on the autism spectrum. The odds are even higher for boys – 1 in 42 boys will be diagnosed with autism or Aspergers. This means if you attend a church of a couple hundred people, several families may have at least one member who has been diagnosed with autism (New research is showing a strong hereditary link.)

While some congregations are starting to reach out and make their classes and services more inclusive, many don’t know how to help. Some may even be wondering why they should. I have talked with many families who have children with autism or Aspergers who go from church to church looking for Christians who will make them feel at home.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If we are truly reflecting God’s love, everyone should feel welcome, accepted and loved when they walk through the doors of our church. This may mean your church needs to educate itself on how to minister to families dealing with autism and Aspergers. Even if you studied special education in college, the information available has changed drastically over the last twenty years and you may need to get more accurate information.

Whether you are a parent who is concerned about your own child or a church who wants to reach out to families and serve them, Asperger Syndrome: The OASIS Guide, Revised Third Edition: Advice, Inspiration, Insight, and Hope, from Early Intervention to Adulthood is a great updated resource to consult.

Books like this can become clinical sounding very quickly. Written by the mother of a child with Asperger Syndrome, the book remains easy to read for even the most stressed out parent.  Bashe also has the educational credentials to share the latest in successful intervention strategies. Having raised a child with Asperger Syndrome, Bashe understands all too well the concerns and questions parents may have.

The book is well organized for either the person skimming for specific information or for the person who needs to fully understand everything they can on the subject. Bashe walks parents through everything from what to do to get an accurate diagnosis to what to do once you have learned your child does indeed have Aspergers. She carefully explains all of the possible behaviors as well as other symptoms that may appear later. A large part of the book carefully explains every possible treatment, intervention and drug that may be suggested to help. She even refers the reader to other sources for the most detailed information on each topic.

It would be easy for Bashe to patronize her readers. After all, it appears she is an expert on the subject  – both personally and professionally. Yet throughout the discussions on therapies and interventions, she is quick to share the mistakes she made along the way. One comes away with the sense she is walking along side you on your journey rather than lecturing you from a podium. She even addresses a lot of the “what if” issues that trouble many parents – including what may happen to your child once you are no longer able to care for her.

I think my favorite part of the book is that the author is able to balance reality with a healthy dose of hope. One of my favorite quotes could really apply to everyone, but I know it will give many parents hope. “Remember, your child is not a “done deal” – not by a long shot. You do not know everything he is capable of achieving or overcoming. No one does.” (p.146) I would add – God does and He has a plan for your child. And that is a hope any parent can grab and hold.

With autism and Aspergers becoming more common, I believe this is a must-have reference book in the library of any teacher, volunteer and of course parent. Although Bashe did not address the idea of faith and Asperger’s directly, I do believe her discussions on manners, empathy and social interaction will give the reader enough information to help guide the faith journey of the child or teen who has Aspergers. I know this book will become a permanent part of my reference library.

 

A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)