Accommodating Autism in Communities of Faith
I'm not sure if this is the correct part of the Forum to be posting this -- if it isn't, please feel free to let me know.
Awhile back, I posted a question about religion and autism out on Twitter, and got a surprisingly big response. Several people were very enthusiastic about this topic, so I've chosen to take it on. The thrust of my planned article is: How can communities of faith better accommodate those on the autism spectrum?
I am looking for personal experiences and opinions (from any religious tradition) to include in my blog. Anyone who is interested, please e-mail me at email@example.com... or you can contact me via Twitter (lynnesoraya), or respond here at AWN.
Interesting topic, since a significant number of Autistics I know also happen to be Jewish as well. I saw an article some time ago about how one would go about having a bar mitzvah for a nonverbal teen.
I was raised in the Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers). We can be very touchy-feely and often hug one another, so it is important to self-advocate if you don't like being touched or don't want to participate in a group activity. People will probably be curious about why you aren't joining in, but you only need to say something like 'I need some time alone right now' or 'I really don't like having people touch or hug me'.
Last summer I was at a conference for Quakers across the US. As a kid, my mom would usually advocate for me, but I am learning to do that for myself. Most afternoons I wouldn't participate in the scheduled activity because I had been to a workshop in the morning and needed to recharge before hanging out in the evening. Sometimes people would ask why I hadn't been around in the afternoon and I would tell them that I find it exhausting to be around a lot of people all day nonstop.
You may find some of the personal stories published in the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health useful. I used several of these when writing a university assignment on a similar topic last year.