BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Free Autism Awareness Month workshop for *YOUR* Parish

Note: When I say “Lent,” I am referring to the Eastern Orthodox version, which begins March 14. For my Catholic and Evangelical friends, that’s the week before Palm Sunday. But if you belong to a Western church, no worries–this still works for Autism Awareness Month!

I know April seems far away now, but Autism Awareness Month 2016, along with World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), are rapidly approaching. This is a super-exciting time for me. I love having an excuse to spread around some love and understanding for autism!

So, this year, I’m doing something new and fun to help churches incorporate Autism Awareness Month into their Lenten parish life.

On March 14, which is the first full day of Lent, I will have a free downloadable video workshop, “Autism and your Parish,” available on the blog, with free printable worksheets.

It’s designed especially for parishes to use as a three-part workshop throughout Lent. It’s going live at the start of Lent to give priests time to view the videos, review the worksheets, plan how to use them, and get the word out.

Here’s how I pictured bringing your community together to watch the videos and discuss:

April 2016 model 1a

But you can use them in lots of different ways:

  • Do workshops on Wednesday nights instead.
  • Make it one big Saturday (World Autism Awareness Day falls on a Saturday this year, for instance) with your parish community and view all three videos (10-15 minutes each) with discussions and breaks in between.
  • Encourage your parish to view the videos independently, and come together for discussion about them. I will also be posting them individually with their corresponding worksheets the first three Saturdays in April.
  • Start an email thread with your church community to discuss the videos.
  • View the videos independently, and join me at my Facebook page, The Least of These, to ask questions and share thoughts.

So I know the big question here is: what are we going to be talking about?

The three videos in my “Autism and your Parish” workshop are:

#1) What is Autism?

#2) The Function of Autistic Behaviors: What looks strange has a purpose

#3) Meltdowns: Why they happen and what to do


Each one is 10-15 minutes long and discussion is as long as you want it to be.

I am SO excited for this workshop to go live. What do you think?


5 Comments Add yours

  1. I think this is AMAZING! I would love to link to this on Illumination Learning! There is a great need for Sunday School teacher training & this would be an excellent supplement. 20 years ago, I would have been uncomfortable with any special needs students in my classroom – it all came down to ignorance. Now, after having taught in a special ed room at a public school (our school was a magnet for severely autistic children) and having special needs children myself – these children are such a joy & teach us so much (especially about ourselves)…if only we’re willing to engage with them. Looking forward to this & I’ll be sharing it on IL!


    1. mauraoprisko says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! I am honored. I really hope this is helpful to churches, because in my experience, people really want to be helpful, but aren’t sure where to start.


  2. Jamie Fairbanks says:

    Thank you!


  3. says:

    Sounds like a great idea, Maura! Go for it!:-) Also, I was wondering if you’ve read the (non-fiction) book, “The Reason I Jump,” – the inner voice of a 13 year old boy in Japan with autism. Originally published in Japan in 2007, It was translated into English and published in the U.S. in 2013. ~ Fran B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mauraoprisko says:

      I’ve not heard of that one, but I’m really into that type of read right now, so I will definitely look it up. Thanks for the tip! 🙂


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