“A family attending our church has a child with disabilities. We want to help. What should we do? Where do we start?”
- Simply begin by providing a support system for the parents that allows them to attend church together without worrying about the child. Perhaps a Glue Team as described on the CLC Network website.
- Include the child with a disability in typical church activities as much as possible. For example, an aide could sit in the Sunday School class to assist the child.
- Start a Friendship class for young adults/adults during the Sunday School hour, on Saturday or midweek. Whatever works best in your situation. These classes “just for them” allow students to feel valued and accepted while they learn of God’s love and care. Such classes also provide respite and support for parents. A good how-to is found in the Friendship Program Guide.
- Schedule a Disability Sunday to develop awareness.
- Provide respite opportunities for parents and mentor/buddies for younger children. See Nathaniel’s Hope for a good program.
- Involve the youth group as mentor/friends, helpers in a class, organizers of a “game night”, etc.
- Include the Friendship class members in as many activities as possible. Encourge them to use their gifts of hospitality or music. Provide opportunities for the students to sit with a mentor/friend during the church service. See the Joni and Friends Church Training Resources for additional ideas.