(Summarized from Christianity Today, July 20, 2018)
According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, America’s religious communities are failing children with chronic health conditions, such as autism, learning disabilities, depression, and conduct disorders.
Sanctuaries are much more sympathetic to children with asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or vision problems than children with conditions that limit social interaction.
Autistic children are twice as likely never to attend religious services as children with no chronic health conditions, and they are most likely to feel unwelcome.
Studies have shown that regular religious attendance is associated with improved mental and emotional health and overall well-being.
And yet, children with the greatest need of a supportive religious community are least likely to have it.
Lack of education and attitudinal barriers in churches are a major deterrent to worship attendance for children with autism and their families.
All church members need to make a theological and ethical commitment to welcome children regardless of their disability and even to invite these children to actively participate in the church’s ministry.