Autism and The Church: A Case Study of the Experiences of Four Children with Autism in Evangelical Churches

by Dr. Yvana Uranga-Hernandez

D6 Family Ministry Journal (Volume 3)





Abstract: Autism affects 1 in 68 children according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2016). Research suggests that church attendance and believing in God helps parents cope with children with autism and improve quality of life (Lee, Harrington, Louie, and Newschaffer, 2008). This qualitative research is a case study of four children with autism that seeks to understand their experiences in church settings. The data includes 23 observations and 11 interviews. Several themes and subthemes emerged to answer the research questions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of both fully included and self contained classrooms in children’s ministry. To conclude, the study offers several implications and recommendations to different groups in the church: pastors, church volunteers, parents, and the overall church body.

Dr. Yvana Uranga-Hernandez is an Associate Professor and Clinic Director at Biola University where she teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. Her research interests include Multi-Cultural Issues, Autism, Language and Literacy Development and Disorders, early intervention, and Theology and Disabilities.