By: Christa Meland
When Rachel Casper’s now 11-year-old son was a baby, she was asked not to bring him back to her church’s nursery because he was “too much to handle.” That was in another state and before he was diagnosed with autism, but it’s something she's never forgotten.
In recent years, she’s met other Twin Cities moms whose autistic children have also been asked to refrain from participating in church activities. It’s ultimately what inspired her to create a specialized Vacation Bible School (VBS) for kids on the spectrum.
“That’s something every child should be able to experience if they want to,” said Casper, director of children and family ministries at Eden Prairie UMC, which welcomed and fully included her son from the first time she visited some years ago. “Volunteer Sunday School workers are not trained to handle kids on the spectrum, but our congregation is such a welcoming congregation and I knew we could live into this ministry of all are welcome.”