We reached out to churches in our Diocese and asked the question, “How does your church minister to children and families with special needs?” We’ve compiled their answers in the interest of opening up the conversation, and providing additional resources for this important ministry.
Check out this info from TheInclusiveChurch.com:
- 7% of children ages 3-17 have ADHD.
- 8% of children ages 3-17 have a learning disability.
- 10% of children have an anxiety disorder.
- 13% of children ages 13 – 17 have a developmental disability (ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism).
- 41% of children with a developmental disability have multiple disabilities.
- 17% of Americans will experience a communication disorder at some point in their life, which includes sensing, interpreting and responding (i.e. auditory processing disorder).
- 1 in 50 children have an autism spectrum disorder.
- 41% of people with an autism spectrum disorder have an intellectual disability (which means that 59% do not necessarily have an intellectual disability).
- 19% of Americans are classified as a person with a disability, which equals the population of the states of FL and CA combined.
- Epiphany, Richmond, recently used a modified confirmation service that replaced much of the Ante-Communion with a Godly Play Lesson. The Eucharist was based on one in “Rhythms of Grace,” which they normally use at St. Giles’ Gate. St. Giles’ Gate is a program they started which recognizes that “children of God may not be best served by conventional Sunday School programs.” You can find out more about this program on their blog.
- Christ Church, Winchester, has been offering a special needs service for the last 10years on the second Monday of each week. This service is offered for people with development disabilities, their families and friends, and all who are interested. Each service “includes a lesson through a story or brief narration, prayers, the celebration of birthdays, and a sharing of the peace. The highlight for many is that the service is filled with singing and includes rhythm instruments for all the participants, which results in a most joyful and expressive sound of togetherness.”
- Resurrection, Alexandria, has a preschool program through their children’s center that mainstreams special needs children. This program was started 40 years ago and currently enrolls 40 percent special needs children. They also sponsor and house a Boy Scout troop for participants who have social and/or emotional issues.
- Rhythms of Grace is a “unique and innovative program resource designed to meet the spiritual needs of children and families living with autism spectrum disorders. Participant families gather monthly with program leaders and volunteers for sessions that are a hybrid of worship and faith formation.”
- The Inclusive Church is a blog dedicated to helping churches successfully include children with special needs.
- Faith For All is a non-profit, non-denominational organization focused on helping congregations navigate how people with disabilities and their families can have “deeper access into the congregation.”
- Key Ministry “provides a wide range of training and resources for pastors, volunteers, and ministry leaders who seek to serve families affected by disability.”
- Pure Ministries offers resources, support and encouragement for churches working with families affected by disability.
What resources does your church use to minister to those with special needs?