Ideas for Your Church to Help a Child with Disabilities and His Family

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By Carol Honderd

“A family attending our church has a child with disabilities. We want to help. What should we do? Where do we start?”

Some Ideas:

  • 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. (See site as listed below)
  • Include the child with a disability in typical church activities as much as possible. For example, an aide could sit in the SS class to assist the child.
  • Start a Friendship class for young adults/adults during the SS 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 on the website.
  • Schedule a “Disability Sunday” to develop awareness. (Several sites with resources, worship messages, etc. listed below.)
  • Provide respite opportunities for parents and mentor/buddies for younger children. (See Nathaniel’s Hope website)
  • 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. Allow them to use their gifts of hospitality or music. Provide opportunities for the students to sit with a mentor/friend during the church service.

Helpful Resources:

Friendship Ministries

Phone: 888-866-8966 Email: [email protected]

§  What Friendship Mentors Need to Know

§  Program Guide

Disability Concerns

Phone: 616-224-0844 or 888-463-0272 Email: [email protected]

§  Handbook for Disability Advocates

§  Free newsletter - Breaking Barriers

§  Resources for Worship Services

CLC Network

Phone: 616-245-8388 Email: [email protected]

This website lists the trainings, speakers, products, and services offered to support churches building an inclusive and interdependent church community. Click on Church Services

Bethesda Lutheran Communities

§  Building a Developmental Disability Ministry: A Manual for Congregations

Many other publications are available too.

Gray Center  Autism information

Nathaniels Hope  Program for young children

Joni and Friends  Many resources for all disabilities

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