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Faith or Rigidity (Help, I Have an Aspie in my Youth Group! – Pt. 2)

*Read PART 1 here!*

Left to their own devices, children with Asperger’s Disorder will often go through life like a train on a track: one way, straight ahead, never varying, and avoiding the unexpected. 

It is hard to live a life of faith without the flexibility to take-risk, something that is difficult for an Apsie. Aspie’s need to learn how to go off-roading. Tell the child – and show them through many experiences over the years – that taking risks and steps of faith is a good thing and to not be controlled by fear. Compliment the child when they are flexible, bending and changing and trying new things.

Youth workers can partner with the parents by helping these children develop skills at surviving in the world.  Plan to take them places they might enjoy, such as restaurants, on public transportation, and to age-appropriate entertainment during youth group outings but be aware, that too much pressure to read so many pieces of sensory and social information at once can be exhausting and stressful.  Plan your activities accordingly.  It is appropriate to increase your expectation as the child gets older and working in partnership with the parents makes discerning this easier for the youth worker.

This really is an issue of teaching the Aspie how to have faith.  Faith is a gift that is given to some of us by the Spirit in a supernatural way but a child with AD may struggle with the flexibility needed to respond to Spirit’s promptings. Walking with and modeling way to do this will reinforce in the Aspie a healthy expression of faith where one can take risks in following the God who loves them and allows them a seat at the kingdom table.

Hope it’s helpful,


by Chris Schaffner

Chris is a CADC certified counselor working with chemically dependent persons and those with co-occurring disorders. Chris has worked in the field for 7 years and has worked with children and teens for over 15 years. Chris is also the coordinator for The Shelter, a ministry of Group Publishing that provides support to children’s and youth workers from around the world. He has worked with individuals of all ages who struggle with addiction, abuse histories, self injury, depression and suicide. Chris has provided training locally on suicide assessment and on working with the LGBTQ population. Chris provides training at SYMC, KidMin, UYWI, Operation Snowball events, Chicago HOPES and Access Living, CCDA Annual Conference, OtraOnda Dimension Juvenil Conference, has taught parenting and Anger Management classes, and teaches a community-based series called ‘Coping With…” that equips adolescent with life management skills. Chris lives in Central Illinois and is married to Trudy. They have 4 kids; Blake, Charley Grace, and the twins Claire and Chloe.

View all of Chris's Articles

2 thoughts on “Faith or Rigidity (Help, I Have an Aspie in my Youth Group! – Pt. 2)

  1. What if you have a child who has had enough of watching the hypocrisy of others and has hardened their heart, and no longer wants anything to do with God?

    • I feel you on this one. Kids are often super sensitive to hypocrisy, and for good reasons. Your question and the answer to that question is pretty complex. I think it’s important to validate the students feelings. Jesus’ people hurt other people. There’s no way to avoid that. When I talk with others who have been hurt by his people I try to make a distinction between Jesus and his intentions for us vs. how we act in reality. Teens can struggle with separating the behavior of Jesus’ people and theJesus himself. Helping them navigate abstract is important.

      As far as engaging them in the youth minsitry I wrote some thoughts about that here: If your child has struggled with self-injury of if you want to know more about this behavior you can read about it here: .

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Faith or Rigidity (Help, I Have an As...

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