“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”Jesse Jackson
What did civil rights activist Jesse Jackson mean by this quote? Well, at its very core, inclusion is “the action or state of including or being included within a group or structure.” It’s a state of belonging. However, belonging is NOT simply inserting people with disabilities into certain spaces. It’s making an active effort to make these spaces accessible for each part of the whole.
In addition, belonging is not a singular catch-all framework that can be applied to all disabilities. How we navigate inclusion should be unique to that person’s disability. In the first of our Better Belonging blog post series, we will be outlining some of the specific ways we can be more inclusive of people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
What is ASD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. People with ASD have
- Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people.
- Restricted interests and repetitive behavior.
- Symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.
How can we help?
- As people with ASD can be easily overwhelmed, it’s crucial to create a stress free environment to make them feel welcome. This means creating a sensory-friendly space, free of strong sounds, smells, or visuals.
- People on the Autism Spectrum also generally experience social exhaustion faster than others. Remember to give them space to rest and mentally relax.
- If you’re in a teaching situation (like in a classroom or Sunday school), be clear with your instruction. Ambiguous or metaphorical language can potentially be confusing.
- In addition, using inclusive learning curricula like our TOGETHER Bible studies can be helpful when developing a lesson plan.
Our TOGETHER studies are inclusive Bible studies that can be adapted to create a sense of belonging for people of ALL abilities. Sign up for a FREE sample session here.