How to be a special needs church family
Provide a safe place to worship.
- Grieve with us, share sorrows, remember grieving is an ongoing process with some families; it is as if the death continues for a lifetime.
- Let us off the hook, it is not easy to do even simple things with these kids.
- Celebrate with us over what you may see as small accomplishments.
- Help us integrate into the church.
- Remind us to get respite and not feel guilty about taking it.
- Help us establish a care team for short term, long term and emergency situations. One that is Dependable! And non-judgmental.
- Donít expect all parishioners to participate in exactly the same way in every setting or activity.
- Be honest about the needs you have as a caregiver so that they can be addressed...it promotes safety for all and avoids burnout for the caregiver.
- Learn what you can about specific diagnosis.
- Make processes for participation as easy as possible.
- Be creative, know that phrases such as "weíve always" strike fear in our hearts.
- Make certain there is plenty of supervision. A buddy, young or old, may help in activities to make the program more enjoyable for all.
- Give continual support, we donít outgrow the need.
- When we thank you for helping us, know that you are doing Godís mission.
- Help us re-identify who we are.
- Help us find Sunday school classes that fit the needs of our family (even if it means leaving the congregation!) Godís love is in all churches. We need to find it where we may all understand it.
- Help our family have whole lives.
- Reinforce that the church family is stronger because all are welcome and remind us that we would greatly missed if we left. We all need to remember that we are valued (too often we feel we just make life difficult for others).
- Remember the primary message you are sharing with individual with challenges as well as the family with challenges: God loves you. I love you.
Martha Kate Downey 10-23-04 email@example.com 817-283-4114 www.mkdowney.com