Metropolitan has several families with children on the autism spectrum. On April 6, in recognition of Autism Awareness Month, the church along with Moore Communications, F.A.C.E. (Facing Autism with Children Everywhere), and Denise Dixon (Tayten’s Troop) hosted a spiritual event called “A Spectrum of Prayers”. The event brought together several church families, as well as families from the community, to openly discuss and pray for parents and children affected by autism/ASD, and was very well received.
“Although our children may be different in their needs and development, I realized that we parents share very similar emotions, fears, and joys. One of the parents who spoke referenced John 9:1-3, and drove it home for me that my daughter was created to bring God a special brand of glory,” said Jermey Matthews, a parent of an autistic child.
“As a speech-Language pathologist I'm active on the professional end of autism, however, this ministry service was a joy and a moving spiritual experience of shared love with these families. I'm honored and excited that my church has taken the lead in this ministry,” said Marva Shand-McIntosh, one of the presenters at the event and the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Leadership Award from the District of Columbia Speech Language Hearing Association.
During the program, parents sharing their personal autism stories and words of encouragement. Shand-McIntosh shared a video of hope that featured Stephen Wiltshire, a child of West Indian parents diagnosed with autism at age 3 in 1974, who has an amazing gift for drawing. Pastor Billingy led out in a special prayer presentation that involved a candle lighting ceremony. Billingy told those in attendance that Metropolitan can be considered a place of support for parents who are tired and need a break. She said that the church will continue to advocate for autism awareness by hosting future events and starting a support group for parents and caregivers.
Childcare was provided so that parents who brought their children could focus fully on the program. By the end of the event, the room was filled with positive energy, motivation, and hope. Families were appreciative to Metropolitan for taking the time to recognize and pray for the needs of parents with children with disabilities.
Special thanks to Cherry Sorzano for coordinating what turned out to be a memorable event.
[The above image is Ms. Joycelyn Walls of the Joy of Life Developmental Institute. Here are some other pictures from the event]
[Handouts were available for attendees]
[Attendees watch the Stephen Wiltshire video]
[Childcare was provided so that parents could fully participate in the program]
[Gavrielle Sween provided special music]
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are complex disorders that are characterized by a variety of difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Therefore a group of individuals with autism or autism spectrum disorder can be in a room and each one of them will differ in personality, communication capability, and even sensory sensitivity. According to science research, the causes of autism/ASD are unknown, and there are no cures. These disorders are so common that 1 in 50 school-aged children are diagnosed with autism and/or autism spectrum disorder. Interestingly enough, one of the common factors of autism and other related disorders is that many parents, who face innumerable challenges dealing with the disorders, rely solely on their faith to bring them through their journeys.