Making Vacation Bible School work for everyone

Vacation Bible School can be a nightmare for children with autism or with a sensory disorder.  This could have been true with Logan IF modifications weren’t made in the early years.  I happen to attend a fantastic church that really goes out of their way to make him be successful.  I’m just gonna share a few things that we have done in the past to make it work for Logan. 

First, I put him in the class that he is in developmentally not necessarily the age appropriate one. Last year, this meant that he was in the 3rd and 4th-grade class, not the 5th and 6th grade one.  He was familiar with the teacher as she was his Sunday School teacher.  He had friends in there that he was comfortable with and the class was smaller and less rambunctious.  This was his 3rd year in that class but it was where he was in his developmental age.  If he had been 2nd grade developmentally then that is the class he would have been in.  You get the picture here.  Put the child were he is set up to be successful.  That is first and foremost.
Second, there are breaks built into the schedule so he doesn’t have to sit and pay attention for a long period of time. This is good for all the kids. The first couple of years, Logan needed a fidget toy to hold during storytime so he did.  Make sure that you are meeting their sensory needs as well.  Before we would leave in the morning, we would brush him and get him calmed down to start the day.  Made all the difference in the world to him.

Also, we pack earplugs so when they go to worship and it’s loud, he’s got them.  Let’s face it.  It gets loud at VBS.  If he wouldn’t wear earplugs then I would take him out and let him sit in the hallway.  A lot of times, one of the older youths could do this and stay with him so I could stay and participate as well.

Finally, and this was probably the most important factor in making VBS successful for Logan was getting the teachers to understand that sometimes he is not going to participate.  The fact is he may be overloaded and just not be able to do it or want to for that matter. The majority of the time, he does join in after appraising the situation for himself,  Nowadays, his friends are able to coax him into joining too.  If he has done most of the activities then it’s ok to let him sit one out.  Don’t force him to do it.  It will make him and you miserable.  Some battles are not meant to be fought.

That’s what we have done to make VBS successful for our child with autism.  Some years were better than others.  Most of the early ones were painful to get through as he fell further and further behind his same age peers. We trudged through it and kept at it.   As we close out his VBS years, I am glad that we did although it wouldn’t have been possible without an awesome church.

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Penny Rogers
Just a Florida homeschooling mom attempting to navigate autismland with my teenage son with autism and the rest of my goofy family. We love Jesus and live gluten free . One kid with celiac and one gluten free for his autism. We utilize the Charlotte Mason approach mixed with lots of field trips as well as jaunts to Walt Disney World. Just sharing my adventures to make you feel better about your family and maybe learn a thing or two that helps !
Penny Rogers

Penny Rogers

Just a Florida homeschooling mom attempting to navigate autismland with my teenage son with autism and the rest of my goofy family. We love Jesus and live gluten free . One kid with celiac and one gluten free for his autism. We utilize the Charlotte Mason approach mixed with lots of field trips as well as jaunts to Walt Disney World. Just sharing my adventures to make you feel better about your family and maybe learn a thing or two that helps !

0 thoughts on “Making Vacation Bible School work for everyone

  • July 26, 2010 at 10:20 am
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    Barbara, we homeschool so that is not a problem for us. I do extend this to field trips and to other events at church.  So, we are still taking the elementary field trips and going to park day with the younger kids instead of participating in the middle school events.  Luckily, he has a younger sister so he doesn’t stand out that much to be there. Does that make sense?

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  • July 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm
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    I wish they had done that back when I was in VBS/ Children’s Church… LOL Thank God, I at least had my mom as one of the heads of the whole deal, so I could escape if necessary… and my dad ran the sound at church, so I’d go hide in the sound booth. 🙂

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  • July 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm
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    Nice article! I teach special needs kiddos at church, and agree with your suggestions. (I’m also on the spectrum)

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  • July 25, 2010 at 11:17 am
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    Nicely said and very practical suggestions.  Thank you.  Allowing your child to be with his developmental peers seems reasonable, but so many parents seem to think that unless a child is included with their same age peers there is something wrong.  Do you extend this arrangement to his school?

    Reply

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