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Full-time Proselytizing Missions and Autism


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Hello All,

I am looking for information. Last year, my son's bishop informed me that my son is ineligible to serve a full-time proselytizing mission, because of his Asperger's diagnosis. He did tell me that there is the possibility of a service mission, which could be arranged locally. 

Recently, I have heard from other parents that there are youth who serve full-time proselytizing missions even with an Asperger's diagnosis. I would like to be able to give my son some accurate information. There is a new bishop in his ward now, who might have a different perspective from the previous one. I will suggest that my son meets with the new bishop to ask him about it, but I'd like to get an idea of the official policy, if any, before saying anything else on the subject to my son.

Any links on church policy or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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There is such a huge autism spectrum (Asperger's in the past being used to describe high-functioning, but not now part of the DSM manual), and there are likely some who could successfully serve a regular mission.    I'd suggest that the young man explore a temporary regular mission (the calls are for just three months and possibly in the home mission, to see how they fare under the stressful conditions, and then reassigned to either a permanent regular mission or a service mission)

.   I'd suggest you call the missionary department direct to ask about the guidelines.  (They are probably online somewhere too.)

Edited by rpn
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18 hours ago, rpn said:

There is such a huge autism spectrum (Asperger's in the past being used to describe high-functioning, but not now part of the DSM manual),...

Yes, in fact, he was diagnosed twice, in two separate countries. The Swiss diagnosis occurred just a few years before the French one, and the wording was such that I was not sure if autism was ruled out or not. Later in France, the diagnosis "autism of high intelligence" was more clear.

18 hours ago, rpn said:

...and there are likely some who could successfully serve a regular mission.    I'd suggest that the young man explore a temporary regular mission (the calls are for just three months and possibly in the home mission, to see how they fare under the stressful conditions, and then reassigned to either a permanent regular mission or a service mission)

.   I'd suggest you call the missionary department direct to ask about the guidelines.  (They are probably online somewhere too.)

Yes, I've heard of past service, but concluded from what his bishop said that the rules had changed. I'm not sure why the bishop told me what he did. Maybe he was going by his own evaluation of my son's readiness?

Anyways, I appreciate the help, and knowing that the policy is not so cut and dried.

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I don't know that these are answering your question, but I will just post what I get when I get them.

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Maybe visit with the new bishop as a parent. Before saying anything to your son. As you know, there is a spectrum even amongst those with Asperger’s. Don’t base your experience on what others have experienced. It’s worth the visit, but, for your son, be willing to accept and embrace whatever happens as God’s will for him, and the path that will bring him the most joy and fulfillment. If your attitude is excitement surrounding any type of mission call, he will feel excitement too.

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My nephew served on temple square in salt lake with Aspergers. Not as a service missionary, but full-time. It’s definitely not out of the question, but may depend on some factors I’m not aware of. I just know our nephew thought he wouldn’t get to serve but was encouraged by his bishop and stake president (they live in Idaho) to submit his paperwork and see what the first presidency wanted to do. Then they called him to serve 😊 Good luck to your son!

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My Aspie son served a full 2 year proselytizing mission. 2015-2017. It really depends on the severity and limitations. My son was almost 21 when he put in his papers. He had completed 3 years of college, living away from home. So we had lots of evidence that he was capable of living on his own and could do hard things. He had zero issues. His MP took his Aspergers into account when making assignments. He stayed in areas longer than most missionaries, kept companions longer as well..... you know how Aspies love change. LOL! He always dreamed of serving, and he did it valiantly! Honestly his autism made him a better missionary. That kid is not afraid to talk to anyone and he really loved the schedule of a missionary! Blessings!

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It’s what the policy is for now. The church doesn’t have time/resources to say otherwise. We are in the same covid boat. Our son is high functioning, higher functioning than many regular proselytizing missionaries that we know and have come to our home. He’s a straight A student at byu, fully independent, has travelled the world, etc. He’s not a missionary that can only serve from home that needs to be limited that way. But we were told that’s his option unless he wants to wait a year (which he’s choosing) and our SP asked us to write a letter to the mission dept with documentation for reconsideration. He was forthcoming on his application, which I feel is appropriate, but It’s a one-size rubber stamp right now no matter the circumstance, so on we go.

 

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In response to this quote:

 

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It’s what the policy is for now. The church doesn’t have time/resources to say otherwise. We are in the same covid boat. Our son is high functioning, higher functioning than many regular proselytizing missionaries that we know and have come to our home. He’s a straight A student at byu, fully independent, has travelled the world, etc. He’s not a missionary that can only serve from home that needs to be limited that way. But we were told that’s his option unless he wants to wait a year (which he’s choosing) and our SP asked us to write a letter to the mission dept with documentation for reconsideration. He was forthcoming on his application, which I feel is appropriate, but It’s a one-size rubber stamp right now no matter the circumstance, so on we go.

There are these replies:

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only because of an official diagnosis? I thought the new rule was that everyone was considered for missions on an individual basis. My nephew was denied a few years back from a stake president from even submitting. But not Aspergers.

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it’s because of covid. The mission dept can’t do a case by case right now

And now other replies to my/your post:

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 I think it would depend on the severity of the potential elder. Even high functioning autistic kids each function at different levels and each in a different aspect. My son is high functioning, his strengths would make him more suited for a service mission. Another ward member with high functioning autism wants to go proselytizing and the Bishop is helping him set goals to be able to do that. Autism is such an individual diagnosis I think it's impossible for the church to make a blanket statement about all kids with an autism diagnosis.

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My son had an evaluation at LDS Family services and he did go prostelyting... and got transferred home 3 weeks later for a service mission. Asberger’s is variable. He was thriving in his service assignment until they shut that down for COVID. Like so many elders and sisters, his mission didn’t turn out how anyone planned, but he had some good experiences to learn from.

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I have two sons with Aspergers. One was able to served a 2 year proselyting mission, the other served a two-transfer mission. My understanding is they are not doing two transfer missions right now due to COVID.

So it's looking like so far that proselyting missions are a possibility overall, but not during this season of covid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 6/24/2020 at 8:13 AM, Meadowchik said:

Hello All,

I am looking for information. Last year, my son's bishop informed me that my son is ineligible to serve a full-time proselytizing mission, because of his Asperger's diagnosis. He did tell me that there is the possibility of a service mission, which could be arranged locally. 

Recently, I have heard from other parents that there are youth who serve full-time proselytizing missions even with an Asperger's diagnosis. I would like to be able to give my son some accurate information. There is a new bishop in his ward now, who might have a different perspective from the previous one. I will suggest that my son meets with the new bishop to ask him about it, but I'd like to get an idea of the official policy, if any, before saying anything else on the subject to my son.

Any links on church policy or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

my bro has asperger's , back when he went (91-93)I can't recall if it was called that. He did a trial mission for a week I think it was and I guess he passed. He did it, had a 1000 companions but a mission can be regimented, which is great for aspergers but it can be so unbelievably topsy turvy which is not good for a mission. As for official policy? I can't speak to that

Edited by Duncan
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I have a nephew on the spectrum (mild Aspergers) currently serving in the U.S. Mandarin speaking. My son’s former BYU roommate has Aspergers and he returned in January from a mission in Central America. I suspect these are handled on a case by case basis. Both these Elders attended BYU for a year before serving missions so they had successfully lived on their own without any special accommodations.

 

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