As we close our series on autism, I realize in many ways we have only just started to touch the surface of this area. For those who want to go deeper, we have gathered some resources that you may find helpful.
This simple self-awareness tool was developed by Elim Christian Services. Dan Vander Plaats has done a great job of laying out the five attitudes towards those with disabilities. I appreciate the challenge of seeing where I was and where I want to be headed. The Five Stages website has articles, videos and a blog to help you continue to think about where you are at and how to move along the scale.
RCA Disability Awareness Website
This website has a number of great resources, including a downloadable copy of their Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs, Everybody Serves by Terry DeYoung and Mark Stephenson. It covers everything from tips on becoming an inclusive church to questions to ask families about how to help. In some ways it’s relatively basic but for me it’s nice to know what I am doing right as well as wrong. Here’s a few of the suggestions from the Inclusion Handbook:
Print a large print bulletin for those who need it
Encourage people in the church to go scent free – i.e. avoid perfume and after shave.
Use people first language to recognise that someone is a person first and that their disability is part of the person not the whole person e.g. Avoid “a disabled person” instead use “a person with a disability.”
Allow children to ask questions of those with disabilities – scolding a child for being naturally inquisitive can make them think having a disability is “wrong” or “bad”. Most people with disabilities won’t mind answering a child’s questions.
The website also links to a number of other resources and materials for churches who want to hold a disability Sunday.
A great set of resources to help any church build a ministry around children with disabilities. You do need to register but once you have it includes everything from a pack on how to run an event to videos from the conference Inclusion Fusion 2012. This website was recommended by Theresa from Monday’s post.
The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities
The book description reads: ‘Raising a child with a disability is hard work. Where do you go for solace? For rest, refreshment and renewed joy? We know where to go for our kids, but where do we go for ourselves? Author Kathleen Deyer Bolduc knows these feelings from experience. She and her son navigated through his childhood and now approach yet another new life phase—adulthood—and all that entails. In The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities, Bolduc uses the metaphor of the mosaic to life as parents of children with disabilities. How do you rearrange the fragmented and chaotic pieces of your family into a perfectly whole and beautiful work of art? Readers are walked through the process using the spiritual disciplines to help you recognize God’s presence in your life and regain the balance we all need.’
Dancing with Max
This book was written by Emily Colson, daughter of Chuck Colson about her experiences of raising her son with autism. She shares about the challenges of isolation and faith and what God has taught her through her son.
There are many blogs written by parents of children with disabilities—it’s a great way to get a behind the scenes sneak peek into what it means for those that live with autism on a daily basis. One of my favourites is Impact. Sandra’s blog covers a number of areas, including stories of life raising a son with autism.
Another great blog about life raising a child with special needs is Ellen Stumbo. I would recommend starting with her post Confessions of a Pastor’s wife – The Church is Forgetting Us and then When the Church and Disability Meet – Resources
Image courtesy of Stewart Butterfield / Flickr.com
I hope these help you as you continue on the journey of learning how to support and co-labor with those with a disability. My prayer is that, as individuals and churches, we will see the Church become a welcoming home for families living with disabilities.