Free Workshop: “Autism: How Faith Communities Can Help”

Practicing one’s faith is important to many families of children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Families often turn to their faith communities for understanding, acceptance, and support as they work to meet the needs of the person with autism and understand his or her strengths and gifts. Yet often they struggle to find a faith community that will welcome and include them.

Many faith communities want to help these families. They recognize that their communities are missing the presence and participation of people with autism and their families. Yet they lack an understanding of autism and feel unequipped in the best ways to include families in the life of their faith community.

We hope to bridge this gap by inviting both families and faith community leaders and members to a free workshop, Autism: How Faith Communities Can Help. The workshop will be held Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Manna Church, 5117 Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. Registration, coffee, and exhibits will open at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided. Childcare is not available.

At the workshop, participants will:

  • Learn about autism and the challenges families face
  • Understand the importance of screening and early identification of autism
  • Connect with community resources for assistance
  • Learn from a panel of church representatives who are working in special-needs ministry
  • Learn how they can welcome and support families in their faith communities

To register for the workshop, click here. For more information, contact Maureen Morrell at mmorrell@autismsociety-nc.org.

A follow-up workshop in February will provide more in-depth training on the strategies that special-needs ministries can use to welcome and include people with autism.

Funding for this free workshop comes through a grant from AMCHP (Association of Maternal & Child Programs). There is funding for a second workshop in Robeson County next year. The purpose of the AMCP grant is to promote the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” This campaign is aimed at improving early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.

Four organizations are collaborating on this workshop: the Autism Society of North Carolina, the Autism Society of Cumberland County, the UNC-CH Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities and the UNC-CH Allied Health Science Department.

ASNC hopes to work with its Chapters and Support Groups to offer this workshop in other places across the state next year. Please contact Maureen if you are interested in helping with this effort.

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