Student researches relationship between religious faith and autism

Dubuque, IA– A University of Dubuque Theological Seminary student is conducting research geared towards exploring the relationship that exists between children with autism and religious faith.

Katie Orth is currently enrolled in the seminary’s online program and opted to explore both the development of faith pertaining to children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the ways in which churches can effectively accommodate the youngsters’ exceptional needs. Orth, whose 5 year old son has ASD, decided to embark on the project after commiserating with parents who had been asked to leave church services due to their childrens’ disruptive behaviour. Orth therefore decided to take action and launched the study in hopes of bridging the gap that exists between places of worship and members of the ASD community.

Orth’s objective was also to aid children on the spectrum to develop a more cohesive  perception of God, faith and religion itself. According to the researcher, many youngsters with autism have an inaccurate perception of God and that because of their unique needs, have difficulty grasping the abstract concepts that are inherent in the field of religious teaching. Rob Hoch, an associate professor of homiletics and worship, believes that Orth’s efforts will be beneficial for both stakeholders asserting:

 “We’re very proud of her and the work she has done. It was very needed and timely.”

 Source: Stacey Becker on the THOnline.com website: UD student reconciles faith, autistic kids