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PeterPan

Thinking out loud through church stuff, any opinions?

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just deleting so nobody thinks I meant something ill about a church

Edited by PeterPan

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I can't really tell you of course but it really sounds like you know what you want. You are worried that there aren't a lot of kids but my kids, especially the one with ASD tendencies, would hate the noisy church and no matter how many kids were there he would be unlikely to find a friend anyway if he is struggling with the atmosphere. I'm afraid your whole church experience might turn into survival. It also sounds like you are both interested in the same church so I don't think you need the board although I understand thinking out loud.

 

Edited by frogger
Just want to add I got a little confused with the numbers so hopefully I understood correctly.
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6 hours ago, J-rap said:

Can I ask how old your child is?

ds is 10, well 10 1/2. He went in with a 4th gr group there, and he could participate well because it was so varied (small group, whole group, snack, movement game, etc.). Our theory had been that he could function in most environments if someone could pair with him and help him get comfortable first. It almost begs the question of whether we're solving anxiety or what. There is that component of just it's new, I'm overwhelmed (by noise, by the use of things I have an SLD in or disability in like singing or writing on a paper) and what do I do. There's the social to navigate too. But he's not so horrible at any of those pieces. It's just that in the moment they add up to more, which is why our worker thought a church with more kids was a great learning situation for him. I think workers are often like well he's homeschooled, gotta get him out. 

We have an option possibly to attend a "buddy camp" this summer where he'll be paired with a NT dc for 5-6 weeks. We have to apply and see what happens. Now that I know I have funding for it, we just have to go through the process. And our behaviorist didn't feel like church has to be this great social lesson either. She has been encouraging us to start a games club and just do other quiet things like that to make friends in the community. 

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Church #1 sounds by far the best, from your description. Smaller, friendlier, language-friendly, quiet... all awesome! And you said yourself that he could probably do great there, so he'd be getting positive feedback from going there, which would lead to wanting to go more, and so on.

That church with the sensory rooms, buddies, etc. sounds really overwhelming to me, and I'm a neurotypical adult! It's also so big, how can there be any community? You don't want to be anonymous. 

Socially, does he enjoy being around a crowd of kids? Some kids just don't need a bunch of other kids around. When I was a kid, I really didn't enjoy having a whole bunch of peers around me. I much preferred (and still do) having a few close friends. I've never been one for a party or a crowd. I think being around nice people who will talk to your DS and engage with him, in a low-stress environment, would be wonderful.  

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6 hours ago, frogger said:

my kids, especially the one with ASD tendencies, would hate the noisy church and no matter how many kids were there he would be unlikely to find a friend anyway if he is struggling with the atmosphere. I'm afraid your whole church experience might turn into survival.

Yup, that's what I haven't heard people saying. I know someone with a dc (teen, older) with ASD who attends this church. They're doing buddies and have a sensory room, so clearly others with ASD are coming. In fact, ds said he thought there were more kids with autism there.

I think your point on survival is actually really good. That's what it is, trying to survive. I felt like a gasping fish there. I was just trying to be open-minded because well I can be stressed in any new/novel situation. But you're right, basically he knows what he wants now and I do. And it's not like some permanent marriage contract, lol. We're just saying we wanna go somewhere quiet.

It's just funny, because I thought my whole goal had been to get us into a church, any church. The worker had this quiet push though like well he'll like this, it's in with kids, blah blah. I think SHE liked this more vibrant church better. But I think she's not in his body or mine. 

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5 minutes ago, Mainer said:

Socially, does he enjoy being around a crowd of kids? Some kids just don't need a bunch of other kids around.

Nope, and neither did I as a kid. 

5 minutes ago, Mainer said:

I think being around nice people who will talk to your DS and engage with him, in a low-stress environment, would be wonderful. 

Ok, then we're good! It just seemed too easy, like go to the first church we were trying, walk in, he can function. Thought we had to try more places, go for more kids, etc. But if he's happy, what does it matter? ALL I WANTED was for him to be comfortable enough that he could walk in the door every week without flipping out. I want him to have a sense of connection to community. That's more important than fancy kid-programming, because it's honestly the thing that you realize you don't have in autism. A person on the spectrum can find people by common interests and make it work and be as lonely or not lonely as they make the effort to be. But COMMUNITY and belonging, that's hard to buy or find, because it's special. 

I think a sense of community and belonging would be as/more restorative than a bunch of peers/friends.

Edited by PeterPan
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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

ALL I WANTED was for him to be comfortable enough that he could walk in the door every week without flipping out. I want him to have a sense of connection to community.

Our church is small but we do have a good number of kids...like I think the kids outnumber adults many Sundays (and having 4 kids per family is the average at our church). BUT I think that is not an important feature of the church for attendance, more a better guage for church health (kids are a sign of a healthy church if you listen to those who "know" about these things). Our church is very community focused and I think that's the biggest thing for us (other than solid Bible teaching). Everyone has partnered with us to help our son, so having other kids with autism in the church isn't even necessarily important. Our pastor often going out of his way to stop and talk to my son about anything he can get him to open up about. I've had people go out of their way to let me know things ahead of time, to try to make him feel comfortable, to try to get him involved at whatever level he's comfortable. A quiet smile and hand on my shoulder as friends pass is common when we're in the hall trying to calm down. The support for ME is there, and the support for my son. 

That's what I would look for in a church, personally. And I would give up all the supports and "thing" in the world to have a supportive church community to lean in on when things get tough.

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2 minutes ago, mamashark said:

kids are a sign of a healthy church

Well the church that told me I was a bad parent because I wouldn't leave my kid with autism screaming had lots of kids. They were kinda unhealthy in the HEAD.

So no, breeding ability means nothing. Obviously something has happened with this church, like they've had a split or something. They're saying they have an AWANA program, so some kids must be showing up, lol.

5 minutes ago, mamashark said:

That's what I would look for in a church, personally. And I would give up all the supports and "thing" in the world to have a supportive church community to lean in on when things get tough.

Interesting. I tried at the other church (where the assistant pastor told me in so many words I was a bad parent) for a year and a half trying to break in. It was just an odd dynamic, lots hurting people not connecting with anyone else. Like literally, it was the most hurting church I've EVER been in. And I just wasn't in a position to help with that. Normally, sure, but I have to take care of ds first, kwim? And I'm not so whiny/needy about church, but people were so hurting they couldn't reach out to ANYONE. They just let the pastor do all the work, which was really too much. And I think that's on the pastor, not nurturing them, but that's a different discussion. He'd say things from the pulpit and nothing would happen. 

This quiet church is lay leadership and no paid pastor I think. That will probably affect growth in this area, but it definitely is strong on the actually caring about people thing.

So yeah, I'd settle for just keeping Satan out of the way and not creating barriers to my ds going to church. Like literally, I don't expect you to solve him, but just stop HINDERING him with your rigidity.

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