People that have known me for a while, know how active I was in the church growing up and through college. It wasn’t until I left the city and returned to the town my parents lived (at the time), that I chose to no longer attend church.
Why I quit going to Church:
There are many reasons why I quit attending the church I grew up in, but this post is not going to dive into that too far, because for the most part it has nothing to do with ASD/ADHD, and I would like to move past those painful memories. However, I will say that I have no desire to attend a church that does not support my marriage, my children, or my family. We were burnt so badly by people claiming to be ‘of God’ that I really had no interest to attending any longer.
Now some may try and say that a few people do not make up an entire congregation, and while I agree with that statement, I personally do not feel I need to subject myself or my family to an unwelcoming environment. To each their own, but I have always believed church to be a safe place, not a place that makes a person/family feel anxious or uncomfortable. I went over 6 years without attending church.
Why I decided to return to the Church:
My only sibling is also on the Autism Spectrum, and he told me recently that one of his favorite childhood memories was going to church each Sunday. Not because he loved to be around people, the pastors, or the church itself, but because that was the one day each week that was predictable. From my experience, people on the Spectrum thrive on predictability and consistency.
After that conversation, I began asking people (from around our current area) about the churches they attend, what the services are like, what they like about it, and most importantly whether or not they believe their church would be accepting/accommodating of a child with special needs. Let’s be real, most churches are not accommodating to individuals with special needs, not because they do not wish to do so, but because they are still stuck in the old-ways of doing things; which is perfect for some people, but doesn’t make a good fit for our family.
Finding a Church:
I finally found a church! This church is very modern, up-beat and very inviting. They openly disclose that they background check all of their employees, which is amazing! They have a seamless check-in process where parents are able to check their child(ren) in, print out ID stickers (which are placed on the child(ren)’s back)), and ticket stubs (with the same ID numbers) are provided to the parents; which must be shown to staff to pick up the child(ren). Kids attend Sunday school, while the parents attend the church service; there are several rooms, and kids are separated by age. Apollo’s age group is small, and that is comforting to me, because he is less likely to become overstimulated. The staff is also aware of Apollo’s challenges/behaviors and has been nothing short of welcoming and accommodating of his needs. I have never felt so welcome in a congregation in my entire life.
Part of our routine:
Apollo has accepted that church is part of our routine. Each Sunday he wakes up, and asks about church. As a parent and a believer, the fact that my children look forward to church activities each Sunday makes me one proud and happy Momma, but what’s even more amazing is the fact that we all feel welcome and accepted. As an autism mom, there have been many times where I found myself feeling very isolated and alone, and so for me, finding a spiritual outlet, has proven to be so helpful to me emotionally.
Are you religious/spiritual and have a child with ASD/ADHD? If so, do you attend church? How are your experiences? I’d love to hear about them!