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‘How to include autistic children and young people in church’

The author hopes the book will encourage readers to think more about the next steps that we can all take together, to create a place of belonging and spiritual development for all.

Front and back cover of the book. / Mark Arnold.

A book to help children’s, youth, and families’ workers, as well as families themselves, to understand more about Autism, how to identify and remove the barriers that Autistic children and young people can often experience in church, and how together we can create inclusion, belonging, and spiritual development for all.

The journey of writing this book has been 35 years in the making, from when I first started out as a volunteer youth worker, barely out of the youth group myself, followed by a lifetime of seeing inclusion done well and not so well; through our own experiences as parents of an Autistic child and what he has taught us.

It continues as we learned from other Autistic children, young people and adults, and extending as we continue to work to be allies and advocates for children, young people and young adults across a range of disabilities, differences and diversities.

In this new book, published by Grove Books, we develop our understanding of what Autism is (and isn’t), and go on a journey that helps us to include and create belonging and spiritual development in church for all Autistic children and young people.

On the way, we explore why some of what we typically do in church can create challenging barriers for Autistic children and young people, and highlight the importance of children’s, youth and families’ workers, alongside Autistic adults, in being agents of change.

We identify how to remove or reduce these barriers, who to do this with, and finish our journey in this book by showing that if we create a place where Autistic children and young people thrive, we create a better place of inclusion, belonging and spiritual development for everyone.

There are some stories from children’s and youth workers, as well as Autistic young people, some questions along the way to help us think about how we can apply what we have learned in our own context, as well as a study exercise towards the end that we can use as the foundation for working through this as a church.

If all of this leaves us hungry for more, the final section signposts us towards further books, websites and other resources that can help us to continue the journey.

Once you’ve reached your own destination on your journey through this book, I hope that it will encourage you to think more about the next steps that we can all take together to include autistic children and young people, working with them and their families, as well as Autistic adults, to create a place of belonging and spiritual development for all.


Feedback from the book

“Can I just say how brilliant, clear and helpful ‘How To Include Autistic Children And Young People In Church’ is. It is well set out, I love the discussion points at the end of each chapter, and the content includes the up-to-date language around Autism. I love the focus on the call we have as Christians to help all belong to God’s family…” Lynn McCann, Reachout ASC Founder, Autism Specialist Teacher

“I think it’s great – informative, theologically and theoretically; practical; encouraging; well-written and easy to read!” Christine Winmill, Co-Founder Count Everyone In.


How to order

To order your own copy of ‘How To Include Autistic Children And Young People In Church’, for just £3.95 including free post and packing (UK only, contact me regarding international postage), or £3.95 (approx. $5.35) for a digital download, visit the Grove Books website.

Mark Arnold, Director of Additional Needs Ministry at Urban Saints. Arnold blogs at The Additional Needs Blogfather. This article was re-published with permission.




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