The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities (UMDNJ: NJ UCEDD) Announces a New Resource "Autism and Faith: A Journey into Community"

May 28, 2008

The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities (NJ UCEDD) at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Pediatrics is pleased to announce a new resource entitled Autism and Faith: A Journey into Community. This fifty-two page guide for including individuals with autism in faith communities was developed by The Autism and Faith Task Force of The Boggs Center and The Center for Outreach and Services to the Autism Community (COSAC) with funding from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. The Task Force worked for more than two years collecting stories and experiences from families, best practices and strategies from clergy and human service professionals, and resources from around the country. The guide features more than fifteen short articles written by clergy, parents, professional experts on autism, religious educators and people with autism, illustrated by numerous sidebar stories and examples from families who shared their experiences, both positive and negative, with their own faith communities in New Jersey. It is interfaith, including examples from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim communities. The purpose of the guide is to provide an introductory, empowering resource for use by clergy, religious educators, and families to develop inclusive spiritual supports for children and adults with autism and their families and recognize the unique gifts that congregations and people with autism can offer to one another. The guide is edited by Mary Beth Walsh, Ph.D., Alice Walsh, M.Div, and Bill Gaventa, M.Div. Dr. Walsh is Roman Catholic, and a graduate of Union Theological Seminary. Rev. Walsh is United Methodist, and a graduate of Drew Theological School. Both are parents of children with autism. Bill Gaventa is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Community and Congregational Supports at The Boggs Center, and Editor of the Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health. The editors were assisted by an interfaith editorial review committee, copy editor staff at The Boggs Center and COSAC, and members of The Autism and Faith Task Force.