In honor of World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow (April 2) and Light it Up Blue (tonight and tomorrow), I’d like to share three excellent ministry or educational resources with our friends who currently serve on staff or volunteer in churches with an interest in becoming better equipped to welcome and include kids with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
First, I’d direct folks to Making Room, the online ministry of Michael Woods, who is also the newest member of our volunteer training team at Key Ministry. Michael serves in his day job as an autism and inclusion specialist for the St. Louis county schools in Missouri. More importantly, he serves as Dad to 13 year old triplet boys, each of whom has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In his Key Ministry, Mike will be educating on relationship issues between parents and churches.
The Making Room website contains links to many useful free downloads for church staff and volunteers. Mike also has a You Tube site with many brief training modules of great practical value to staff and volunteers in church settings, including modules on crisis management, visual schedules, behavior management and limit-setting. He hosts a popular show on Blog Talk Radio in which he addresses topics related to autism and the church. Mike shared his personal experiences in looking for a church as the father of three sons with autism last month on our blog.
Friendship Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan has had a longstanding mission of helping churches include adults with intellectual disabilities. In recent years, they have been very proactive in developing resources for local churches to support inclusion of children and adults with autism. Their book, Autism and Your Church (available for purchase) contains many practical resources for church staff and volunteers serving persons with autism.
Finally, for any church staff, volunteers or parents with a great interest in learning more about autism, the Yale Child Study Center has made available online, and free of charge, the University’s complete undergraduate seminar on Autism and Related Disorders over the web, taught by some of the world’s top researchers.
Our team at Key Ministry is grateful for the opportunity to help churches serve, welcome and include children and youth with autism spectrum disorders and their families.