New Interfaith Resource Guide on Autism
Available for Congregations, Clergy, and Families
New Brunswick, NJ th The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School announces a new resource entitled Autism and Faith: A Journey into Community. The guide provides 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.
(Media-Newswire.com) - New Brunswick, NJ – The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School announces a new resource entitled Autism and Faith: A Journey into Community. The guide provides 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 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 guide is edited by Mary Beth Walsh, PhD, Alice Walsh, MDiv, and Bill Gaventa, MDiv. Dr. Walsh is Roman Catholic and a graduate of Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY. Rev. Walsh is United Methodist, and a graduate of Drew Theological School, Madison, NJ. Both are parents of children with autism. Rev. 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.
The guide is expected to be available at the COSAC conference in May. It will be disseminated to faith groups, families, and disability organizations in New Jersey for free and to anyone outside New Jersey for a nominal fee of $5. Ordering information will be available on The Boggs Center’s web site at http://rwjms.umdnj.edu/boggscenter.
Linda Fiddle, the executive director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which provided the funding for the printing of this booklet notes, “This new resource will create a better understanding by faith communities of autism and the challenges and joys families and individuals find as they seek to participate. It also is our hope that those with autism will use this as a vehicle to open the doors to their faith communities as a means of support and spiritual growth that The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation believes is an important component to lifetime wellness.”
For more information, please contact Rev. Bill Gaventa, director of Community and Congregational Supports at The Boggs Center, 732-235-9304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To place an order, please visit The Boggs Center website at http://rwjms.umdnj.edu/boggscenter or call 732-235-9317.
About UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,500 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs.
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