Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Autism Awareness Month - Please Pray and Act

Joseph Nicholas Fountain

April is Autism Awareness Month.

I give thanks today for all kinds of church people (usually Sunday School leaders, but also Secretaries and others) who have tried to make the churches we've served into comfortable places for Joey, our autistic son. You might have special needs kids in your congregation - can't begin to tell you what a blessing you will be to their families by being patient and accomodating.

Please pray for autistic people, their families and care givers. If you are so able, give to autism research and care... and if I might make a local plug, consider a gift to a place that Joey loves, Liberty Center, Sioux Falls.


Dr. Mabuse said...

I'm so glad you have a supporting church to go to! We were driven out of our anglo-catholic church by the indifference and hostility to our autistic children. (I don't remember hearing one sermon in my last year there; I was always fleeing with the kids outside or into the hall, to keep them from being heard as they chattered and fidgeted.) In a choice between aesthetics and children, aesthetics won. That was the beginning of my exodus from Anglicanism altogether.

I do recall, though, a Baptist friend telling us sincerely that if our family had turned up at HIS church, there were parishioners who would have seen it as a holy work to help take care of the kids while there, so that we could actually attend a church service ourselves.

TLF+ said...

Ouch. I hear many such stories and I fear that some deference was shown to our son because "dad is the rector."

You are so painfully right - aesthetics often lead to rejection of special needs kids... or even kids in general! Many, many stories out there of families run off from churches because the kid squirmed during some precious piece of performance music.

Anglicans especially need to read Mark 10:13-16.

Anonymous said...

Joey is considered a part of our family-both the church and our home families. Shame on ANY church, any denomination, that looks at a person and sees only their disabilty. We are blessed to have this young man as part of our family.
His dad, mom and brother aren't bad either :)
The Oblate

Alice C. Linsley said...

What a fine looking young man! I love his smile. May God bless him and his family.

Anonymous said...

As a congregant at Good Shepherd, I can say that Joey is not merely tolerated, and the affection our family feels for him has nothing to do with the fact that his dad buttons his collars in the back and wears a dress on Sundays. Joey's a nice young man and a beloved member of our congregation.

For those of you who do not have the good fortune to attend Good Shepherd, you're missing out. The whole Fountain family is pretty great.

Fr. Tim, let it be here recorded that it's great to know you and wonderful to worship with you. Our family is grateful for you and for your family.

TLF+ said...

anonymous #5 - and part of why Joey is a nice young man is that he is calm and secure with the kindness of the people at Good Shepherd!

My comment about tolerance had to do with some past experiences, and was an expression of support for Dr. Mabuse (read that comment - that reflects the more common experience in churches).

But thanks for the affirmation! And thanks most of all for the affection and welcome shown to our whole family (including the snow blower - most unique house warming gift we ever received!)

And it should be noted that there are other special needs folks of various ages at GS... and they are all welcomed and some have very public roles in the church!

Anonymous said...

April is National Autism Awareness month and in the past it has meant mostly that people write articles that say that children become autistic from watching television, or reading in my college alum magazine that poor parents of autistic kids are getting help only from books written in the 50s or before. NOT!

The comments on this article have me in tears at this very moment - tears of gratefulness - of seeing that happy boy!

If anyone is learning or has just discovered that they or a loved-one or friend needs support, there's lot's of it out there, including an autism chat room which I help run. If you email the fine man who runs this blog, perhaps we can connect. You are SO not alone!

Christ's Peace!

p.s. who is that FINE looking couple in the photo in the background?