How to help neurodiverse people in church

The Methodist Church is committed to treating each person’s experience with dignity. As we listen to one another we discover that some neurodivergent people identify as being disabled while others do not. In this film James reminds us all of the need to ask people to help us understand their experience and to continue to learn.

James Carver, Youth President 2022-23, explains how we can welcome and celebrate neurodiversity.

Creating a Supportive Church for People Living with Neurodiverse Conditions

Similar to the bricks and mortar that hold our buildings together, a churches social environment hold together the community and all in it. However, sometimes it can be difficult to understand what hinders some of our members from worshiping in its full sense. This article contains five tips you could use to help people living with neurodiverse conditions such as Autism, ADHD, or Dyslexia.

Please remember that due to the varying nature of neurodiverse conditions it is impossible to create a one-size fits all model, however a case can be made to cast a wide net and offer as many small aids as possible. The following is a starting point but you need to ask people in your area what will help them.

  1. Clocks

The removal of worship area clocks which are visible to the public can help people who have difficulty maintaining attention. Church services are often long and people may have things to do after the service. Removing the clocks help to create an enclosed immersive atmosphere for some individuals. However, we realise that a clock may be important to the local preacher so, if possible, install a large format digital display in line with their sight to be able to keep track of time.

  1. Phone Storage

Similar to the previous tip, phone storage can also be useful. Again, individuals with attention difficulties look for any form of stimuli to occupy their brain during a long period of listening. Offering a space to store phones safely means individuals do not have the temptation to get their phone out during a sermon and start scrolling through social media. If people are getting their phones out in your service, please do not assume the person thinks the sermon is unimportant; more that they are not getting enough stimuli from the sermon to be able to maintain attention. However, it is important that phone storage is not made compulsory, as some people may use their phone to interact with the service (e.g. looking up bible passages), and others may have anxiety from being away from their phones.

Additionally, you could offer members a piece of paper and a pen in exchange for their phone; this would allow them to write down notes and questions from the sermon and keep their brain engaged.

  1. Neurodiverse friendly fonts

For individuals with Dyslexia or Dyscalculia, alterations in font and style can help. The recommended format is a sans serif font, large font (at least size 12), avoiding italics and all caps, and more. Additionally writing numbers in both the numerical and literary formats (i.e. 4 (four)) can help individuals with dyscalculia. These changes can be incorporated into your usual PowerPoints. The British Dyslexia Association has created a guide for how to do this: https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/advice/employers/creating-a-dyslexia-friendly-workplace/dyslexia-friendly-style-guide

Additionally, with printed items, it could be useful to offer a summary sheet containing only key information. Similarly, this would be best written in sans serif font, with congregational responses in bold, and no sentences in all capital letters. This might help those who have difficulty processing lots of written information. If you can print on off-white paper that would be a massive plus as well.

  1. Provide coloured overlays

Coloured overlays are possibly the most well-known aide for individuals living with Dyslexia. Coloured overlays assist individuals by highlighting the words on paper, making it easier to read. Excitingly, you can get multiple overlays online for less than £10 and by letting people borrow them during the service, it can lead to a massive improvement in the way people are able to understand God’s word.

  1. Welcome the use of personal aids

The final, and potentially most simple, piece of advice is to create an environment where people can feel comfortable using their own aids. Often people have their own aids such as overlays, dictation devices, or ear-defenders, but a perceived cultural displeasure can result in these not being used when they are most needed. By creating a reassuring environment, people will not be afraid or awkward about using these.


It is hoped that these tips help your church to improve and grow in community engagement through creating a way of life that benefits all. These items could be available on request or, even better, placed on a table for anyone to use without having to feel exposed or pressured.


Helpful links

Inclusive Church: inclusive-church.org
This website has some disability resources which are widely applicable.

Respecting Neurodiversity in the Church - The Disability and Faith Forum: disabilityandfaith.org/respecting-neurodiversity-in-the-church

ADDitude - ADD & ADHD Symptom Tests, Signs, Treatment, Support: additudemag.com
This website has some personal help and resources for those with ADHD

British Dyslexia Association: bdadyslexia.org.uk

National Autistic Society: autism.org.uk

ADHD Awareness Month: adhdawarenessmonth.org

ADHD Foundation: adhdfoundation.org.uk