Tuesday, February 05, 2013

When God's gifts look like limitations PART THREE: From the families...

The "real world"... responses from parents of children with special needs.  Some who have had wonderful experiences.  Some who are still searching.  Some, who have all but given up.

View the previous posts in this series:
PART ONE: When God's gifts look like limitations: My plea to "The Church"
PART TWO:  When God's gifts look like limitations: My plea to Families with children with special needs

“Before we brought home our kids with special needs, we were very involved with church several nights every week.  We volunteered, we did everything.  Now we can’t even go on Sunday mornings many weeks.  That’s where we have had the least amount of support and the least amount of options to get help.”- SB

“We left a church after 15 years to go to a different denomination with a wonderful special needs ministry. I am so grateful for them. They accept my son just the way he is.” -MM

“I am struggling with this very issue. Our church has nothing in place for special needs. They are more concerned with whether we send in our collection envelopes than whether our child has a positive experience in church. We have actually had parishioners move from the pew when they see our daughter. And now with two children, it's near impossible to attend by myself with both of them. My husband usually works weekends.” -GM

“Our old church went the family integrated route. After being there so long there was no place for us. I wasn't going half the time. I repeatedly asked and got non- answers.  I went to a faith and disability conference in Orlando and saw what the church's attitude should be. I unsubmissively went home and told my husband I was fed up, lol.  Now we all know we did the right thing.” -MM

 “We left our church after bringing our daughter home and haven’t found a home since....churches need to "build it and they (families w kids w SNs) will come!!!! The last place any family wants to feel judged is church and unfortunately many SN families just feel like they don’t belong in church these days “ -CE

 “A church we visited has about 5000 members - and they justified running a special needs nursery for only 3 children who attend! Awesome!   And so rare, especially in the Baptist arena. Yet, I believe if more if our churches offered this - people would come. Think of single moms, etc who want so bad to come to church and simply worship, not contend with stares etc.” -CB

“Our old church tried and a few folks were on board. Unfortunately the plan lacked the pastor's support to get it going. He saw distractions, not kids.” -MM

“How can I stand up in a church to share the testimony of our adoptive family, when our biggest struggle has been the church?” -SB

“We are feeling the effects of this right now at our small church. With 5 girls who have DS, it is becoming an issue and I would love to know what others are doing or how they're making it work, and what churches are doing to address this.”  -KW

“My son has minor issues, but it sure is nice to have an hour or so without having to deal with his issues while I just want to get all the way thru Shout to the Lord without feeling like I am going to shout at my kid.” –DK

“ I was wondering how to address the church. In my mind, I start thinking they are my kids and so it is my problem... It feels hard or not right to say "what are you gonna do so my kids can attend children's church" or whatever...” –KW

“Our church has a special needs program. Each of my kids has an adult "buddy" who volunteers to work with them each Sunday. Some of my kids go to the regular Sunday School with their buddy, some stay with their buddy in a contained classroom. They all learn a Bible lesson. My daughter knows quite a few Bible verses that she recites in sign language. We are immensely blessed by these dedicated individuals who work with our kids. I absolutely could not attend church without this program, and I NEED that time each Sunday-spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally!” –AB

“We have had a few bumps along the road, but my son has always been welcomed at our church. However; children with greater needs are not as welcome unless they go to the "special friends" class. Unfortunately, there is not an inclusive atmosphere overall, but this is changing. We have started a moms group that is open to the community, and we are working to try to get a buddy system going. There is so much room for improvement in churches. I think people are willing, but don't want them to be the ones that may be "bothered." I have been researching a lot to see how things can be changed, and I do believe we will keep improving. Unfortunately, the church is nothing more than "people" and some of them are set in their ways and resistant to change. At our church, we know that with the moms group, we will have more children come, and we are working to be ready- just admittedly not fast enough for any of us.” –KG

“What I need most is people to be non-judgemental and non-frightened of our son and his needs. So far, while he's been young, that's not been a problem. When he gets physically larger, it will be harder.” –RD

“The church I attend has a WONDERFUL inclusion team and ministry! We take the children, one-on-one into their classrooms with their peers and help them participate in the activities! It is SO much fun to be a Buddy! I wish more churches had this kind of program. The parents drop off and pick up the child from the inclusion room. The inclusion room is set up as a safe haven for the kids if they get overwhelmed and need to go back to a quiet place (we have a swing and an adaptive trike and a tent and coloring pages and a computer and many sensory buckets...). Thew parents can go and enjoy service knowing their child is learning and enjoying their class too, and they are in capable hands. Most (but not all, I have no professional credentials yet) of the Buddies are sp.ed teachers, BD teachers, OTs and PTs. The children have their own Buddy, and as much as possible, the same Buddy goes with them every Sunday.
The first director used to go to other churches and speak about the importance of inclusion and acceptance in the Church, and how they could start a ministry of their own. She no longer is the director, but is still a Buddy.” –CL

“I still remember well the sense of betrayal I felt (20 years ago) when faced with the lack of acceptance, love and support at the one place I had most expected it.”—AV

“I have been struggling with this exact thing for YEARS. I don't need a sign language interpreter, or a wheelchair ramp, although I am grateful for them, for those who need them. My family's real needs always seem to fall outside the box, and I really feel we are alone here, underserved and forgotten, most of the time (although I hope I don't sound like I am complaining about our life, because I most definitely am NOT). ” –MR

“Special needs ministry is desperately needed in so many cities and towns. As I described to a friend the other day, it's the lack of my spouse and I being "fed" spiritually, b/c we are so busy attending the need of our (one) child. .. Church should be the first place to find sanctuary with our families. Instead, most become another struggle.” –KP

These quotes have been used with permission.   

This post may be copied in its entirety.  Please do not edit the content if copying this post.   Please e-mail Meredith before publishing in any format other than social media, FaceBook, blogs.  Thank you.  MeredithCornish@gmail.com

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