Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Building bridges

Me and a friend explaining the Bible to adults with learning disabilities

It’s my turn again to speak at our group for adults with learning disabilities.  I’ve tried to tell God that it’s not my thing, that I’m quite happy doing the administration in the background, but he and the other leaders are keen to encourage me.  For some reason they think I’m confident and can do it…ummmm.

It seems totally different from my day job. I speak to all kinds of  people all the time. I run courses about ASD and love it. I’ve been doing that for about 6 years now and feel comfortable and passionate about what I am saying.

But there are so many barriers I have created in my own mind about speaking about Jesus in church. Suddenly I feel inadequate, tongue-tied and terrified.  It’s that FEAR thing again.

However, one thing I have learned in my walk with God is to trust and obey.

So – I have spent time this week praying, preparing my puppet sketch, my visual presentation and practical resources.  I aim to help our members learn about Jesus’s church and that they are part of it. We are also ‘adopting’ a mission organisation that we can pray for and support. I have spent some time looking for an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities in mission and found it in our very own www.prospects.org.uk . So a talk about Casa Silvia in Romania and why we support mission is in my plan too.

We have learned to present our teaching in a number of ways. we have some members who are quite able and verbally competant but who also find it difficult to process complex language and concepts. We have other guests who are non-verbal and have severe learning difficulties, some have ASD, and some have additional sensory impairments…and many in between. We have found that if we use visual communication support , simplified verbal language, repetition, action (DVD, puppets and drama) as well as interactive questions and songs – then somewhere along the line each member of the group can access what we are teaching. We continue to be wonderfully surprised at the engagement and responses we get.

I am very grateful for the support of the rest of the team, our vicar and the wider church. This is just one more step in our journey to make our church more inclusive…we are aiming to invite more of our group along to regualar Sunday services.

we’d love you to share how your journey is going too…your comments are really helpful in making me think about what we are doing and how I can form my posts on this blog so thank you for taking the time to comment.

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