Catholics with Autism
Efforts of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability


Boy in a field with a magnifying glass looking at a dandelion.

Boy with Autism
Girl with Autism

The prevalence of autism is an increasing reality in the parishes and schools of the Catholic Church in the United States. Autism, also often called autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is "a set of complex neurodevelopment disorders that include autistic disorder, Asperger disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Children who have ASD display mild to severe impairments in social interaction and communication
along with restricted, repetitive, and
stereotyped patterns of behaviors,
interests, and activities." From the 2013 CDC report at the link below. The rates of autism have risen steadily, and as of the latest report are at 1 in 50. Regardless of the reason for the increase, all parishes and schools will have members who live with the range of conditions that are within the autism spectrum.

In order to adequately respond to the needs of these members in the parish or school, an Autism Task Force (ATF) was commissioned by the NCPD Board of Directors to review and evaluate curriculums and program models being used at parishes around the country.

NCPD Autism Task Force

The ATF brings rich diversity to the tasks at hand. Three are parents of a total of four children on the autism spectrum. The group brings extensive experience in the provision of special education and autism services in the milieus of parishes, public and Catholic schools, dioceses, app development, Hispanic ministry, and family support.

Members of the NCPD Autism Task Force

Charleen Katra, M.Ed., Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, ATF Co-chair
Anne Masters M., Archdiocese of Newark
Mark Mautone, MA, New Jersey
Mary Beth Walsh, Ph.D., New Jersey, ATF Co-chair
Dr. Joseph White, Texas
Madonna Wojtaszek-Healy, Ph.D., Illinois
Nancy Thompson, DMin, NCPD Staff

The resources below are provided for parish observation of Autism Awareness Month (each April) and to provide additional support for parish and diocesan ministries. This is not a complete list. It will continue to grow and change as new items are brought to our attention and new ones are created. We will, as NCPD always does, list products and resources that provide a range of options for families, parish & diocesan staff and volunteers to use in supporting those on the autism spectrum. Remember that not every child responds to every technique and that most of these materials can also be used successfully for and with those with other needs such as intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Resources for Observing April as Autism Awareness Month

 Parent Interview Form for Religious Education    PDF              
 Strategic Components for Successfully Working with  Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder  Word  PDF
 Strategies for Catechetical Instruction for Students with  Autism Spectrum Disorder  Word  PDF
 Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew  Word  PDF
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew  Word  PDF
 Mass Petitions for Autism I  Word  PDF
 Mass petitions for Autism II
 Word  PDF
 Parish bulletin announcement for Autism Awareness Month
 Word  PDF
 A Prayer of St. Francis for Autism  Word  PDF
 Prayer during Autism Awareness Month
 Word  PDF
 Press Release  Word  PDF
 Press Release 2013  Word  PDF


Autism-Specific Resources

 Adaptive Sacramental Preparation Kits - Loyola Press  Link
Archdiocese of Newark - Mass Book  Link
Archdiocese of Newark - Mass Overview/Sequence  Link
 Powerpoint presentation from May 2008 Webinar Children/Youth with Disabilities
Webinar on Children/Youth with Disabilities  View Page
Autism Society of America
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

We Go To Mass (geared for children with autism)


The Child with Autism Learns the Faith: Bible Lessons From the Garden of Eden to the Parting of the Red Sea by Kathy Labosh. 

Autism and Faith: A Journey into Community  Link
Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders  by Barbara J. Newman  Link

My Best Friend Will by Jamie Lowell and Tara C. Tuchel, M.S., CC-SLP. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing col, 2005. Jamie introduces us to her friend Willie, who has autism. She does so in a way that is both informative and natural, as if we were sitting together in person. In the process, we learn many specifics about autism, which is part of his uniqueness, but also about the things that she and her friend shares. Jamie is a 5th grader from Wisconsin. She and Willie have been friends since Kindergarten.


the AUTISM ACCEPTANCE book: Being a Friend to Someone with Autism by Ellen Sabin. Watering Can Press, 2006. ISBN: 0975986821, This is an activity book that provides downloadable lesson plans to be used with grades K-8 to engage children in learning to embrace people’s differences and treat others with respect, compassion, and kindness.


When My Autism Gets Too Big! A Relaxation Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Kari Dunn Buron

The Science and Fiction of Autism by Laura Schreibman  Link
“You’re Going to Love this Kid!” Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom by Paula Kluth

Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals Catherine Maurice, ed., Gina Green & Stephen C. Luce, co-ed

Inclusive Programming for Elementary Students with Autism by Sheila Wagner, M.Ed  Link
Inclusive Programming for Middle School Students with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome by SheilaWagner


Foundational Documents for Disability Ministry

Catechetical Resources

Access and Inclusion Models  


Sacramental Guidelines (USCCB - 1995)




Continuum of Models for Religious Education   Word PDF
Individual Religious Education Plan   Word PDF

Ministry Tools

Papal Message on World Day of the Sick Link    
Pastoral Statement (Order from USCCB)(1978)
Pastoral Statement - Large Print   Word PDF
Welcome and Justice (USCCB -1998)
Opening Doors to Welcome and Justice/ Parish Guide (Order from USCCB)
Quotes from Documents   Word PDF
Evolving Definition of Disability
 Web page    
Bibliography   Word PDF
National Directory for Catechesis (Order from USCCB) Link