3. Create quiet spaces
A common trend among churches is to air the service live outside of the sanctuary. Oftentimes, this is for overflow purposes, or children who get fussy, but some members may feel more comfortable in an area where they can view the service on a screen.
I attended a service in which an autistic child had a verbal outburst, and unfortunately, the only space the family could go to help calm their child was the restroom. Families with a loved one that has autism are often hesitant to go to church because their child may be sensitive to loud music or bright stage lights. Churches can have a separate room available for families to utilize during the service, just like the nursery is open for parents of little ones to breastfeed or change a diaper. This can make all the difference when a family of an autistic child is deciding to go to church.
A separate room can televise the service live, so the worship or sermon won’t be missed. It can be equipped with seating and tables, and other items to capture the interest of an autistic child or someone with an intellectual disability, such as pillows and blankets, books, soft toys, puzzles, games, and coloring books.
SPD church-goers may benefit from a “calm room.” The calm room can be painted in a neutral color, include dimmer light switches, a white noise machine, and comfortable furniture in neutral colors.
Ultimately, depending on the needs of your congregation, having a separate room available may lift the anxieties and fears enough to make it possible for certain families to once again attend church.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Maria Dubova