Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Autism in Church: Addressing "Special" Needs

I'll admit that I have never been a fan of the term "special needs" and neither was my friend, Harriet McBryde-Johnson, a lawyer born with muscular dystrophy. She used to say, "Why is that I am considered having special needs, when all of you who can walk insist on driving around the side of a restaurant just so someone can hand you a bag of food through a tiny window?" Good point. But then again, she was a lawyer. 

But Thomas Christianson's Relevant article "Why Christians Need to Care About Autism" points out a major component of our faith is that the strong help the weak. I am not implying that autistic people in general are weak. His article actually refers mostly to children on the spectrum. We need to not just begrudgingly accept them in our midst on Sundays. We need to know how to treat them. For their good. And for ours. 

Treating an autistic person well means we willingly embrace and understand their needs. I'll leave off the word special here, though. There's nothing "special" about keeping your voice down or laying off the cologne just a little bit. It's not earth shattering to shake someone's hand instead of hugging someone so tightly that you appear to be doing some reverse form of the Heimlich Maneuver. Really, this is just common courtesy. Doing to others what you would like to have done to or for you should not be far from the mind of any Christian. 

Be blessed today!

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