The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

17 February 2012

Celebrating Autism Sunday 2012

By JR Tan, person with autism.

Last February 12, 2012, Christian Bible Church of the Philippines (CBCP) observed Autism Sunday – an annual prayer day for People with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. The observance also promotes autism awareness to churchgoers.

Autism Sunday stickers were distributed a week before the event, courtesy of the CBCP Prayer, Youth and Library Ministries. The aim was to campaign for commitment to pray; for understanding and inclusion of people with autism in church activities. In our church, children teens and young adults like me are welcome to worship and join Sunday School activities. During the February 12 Youth Service, I was assigned to lead a prayer for PWAs.

Friends who supported Autism Sunday: From left, Bryan, JR and Lloyd

Churches should be a big community that loves, stays and prays together. It should foster brotherhood among its members; so as to people with autism within the congregation. I was happy and surprised to see many people wearing the Autism Sunday Awareness sticker on their shirts, some even pasted on their bags.

CBCP Youth and Library Ministries support Autism Sunday

Every person is created in God’s image. There are no two persons alike. Just as other people attend church, people with autism should be given reasonable accommodation to church activities and encourage participation with other people. Although neuro-typical children attend Sunday School classes, this doesn’t mean that people with autism should be refused in such activities; though they may throw tantrums if they’re agitated, excited or distracted. Since everyone is created equally in God’s sight, they should also be treated like any other churchgoer.

The key to a harmonious church is to integrate people with autism in activities. Although some people with autism can be overwhelmed with what’s going on in church, caregivers and parents can cooperate with the pastors as well as other volunteer teachers who serve in different classes. Through cooperation, parents can make a difference in their children’s participation in church activities. The key to a child’s accommodation in a church is to prepare him/her ahead of time so as not to burden him/her with all the stress.

Mom May (right) and Kim, child with autism (third from right) with friends from Sunday School

For example, if a child is not comfortable with the church atmosphere, he/she can be trained at home to listen to Christian songs or allow him/her to watch videos with children from a Sunday School class. Another thing is parents can do is to integrate the child with only a small class size to lessen distractions or to arrange with the teacher not to force the child to join activities if he/she does not show interest. It’s O.K. if the child throws tantrums – some cannot express their concerns verbally.

In conclusion, people with autism should be treated fairly like any other churchgoer. They should be united with God. The God who created the universe and all those on it stays the same yesterday, today, and forever, just as His love for us.

Thank you to all Christian Bible Church of the Philippines (CBCP) members who prayed and supported this event. Special thanks to Pastor Michelle Sy-Tan, Pastor Mike Cariño, Sister Jackie Tan, Brother Jeremiah Co, and WASABEH Cellgroup.

*****

About the author: JR Tan is 21 years old and a senior taking up BS Accountancy with minor in Biblical Studies at Messiah College Foundation. He dreams of becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the future. JR is passionate about autism rights and is one of ASP's first self-advocate members.

For more information on how to integrate people with autism in your place of worship,  click here. Email us at autismphils@gmail.com if you wish to have an "Understanding Autism Seminar" or a similar activity in your area.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Sweet Tomatoes Printable Coupons