An exploratory study of attitudes towards autism amongst church-going christians in four protestant churches in the south-east of England.

Krysia Waldock, Rachel Forrester-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


ntroduction: Churches can act as conduits to social inclusion as well asproviding spiritual support. Access to these communities however can bedifficult for autistic people, and little is known about the attitudes ofchurchgoers in the United Kingdom (UK) towards autism and autisticpeople. There are specific autism guidelines that churches can follow, buttheir dissemination among church communities is unknown.Methods: Using a grounded theory approach, semi-structuredinterviews were carried out by the first author with 21 adult church-goers, using purposive and convenience sampling from fourdenominations of the Protestant Church in the UK. Themes werediscussed and agreed by both authors until inductive thematicsaturation was reached.Results: Five themes were delineated from the data: ‘awareness’,‘theology’, ‘personal attitudes’, ‘degrees of ableism’ and ‘idiosyncraticpractice’. Whilst some attitudes towards autism were positive, pejorativeattitudes still remain. This mix of attitudes is reflected in the idiosyncraticpractice among churches. Knowledge of the specific guidance regardingautism was found to be limited.Implications: Although limited to one spiritual organisation, ourfindings indicate that churches need to improve understanding of andalter attitudes, policy and practice towards autism. Expanding the studyto include other religious organisations is already underwa
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-847
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019
EventInternational Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSID) World Congress, Glasgow, UK 6-9 Aug 2019: IASSID Future4All - Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Glasgow, Glasgow, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Aug 20199 Aug 2019


  • Autism
  • Faith communities
  • Attitudes
  • Social inclusion

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