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Children with Disabilities

Inclusion tips and resources

Diverse group of children giving a program on a stage

​Vacation Bible School at North Goshen Mennonite Church. Many children in church congregations have hidden issues such as ADHD or mental health concerns that result in difficulties and disabilities.

 

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

Tips on Children with Disabilities

Tips come from Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs, Everybody Serves, by Terry A DeYoung and Mark Stephenson

  • Parents are experts. Ask parents about their child and allow them to talk, or respect their wishes not to talk at that time.
  • Every child is a gift. If parents find out that an unborn or recently born child has a disability, remain excited and eager to congratulate them.
  • They are children first. Ask parents about their child as you would as you would any other (what are their interests, gifts, hobbies, etc.).
  • Give parents the benefit of the doubt. Realize that parents are doing the best they possibly can.
  • Offer your help. Parenting a child with disabilities can be hard work, adding to the stress of typical parenting. Ask parents or someone who knows them if there is any way you can lend a helping hand, and then be willing to offer specific suggestions of what you might do.
  • Assume reponsibility. See to it that your church welcomes children with disabilities and accepts responsibility for their spiritual, educational, and social needs.
  • Learn what works. Talk to parents about different teaching methods used at school and at home that have been successful.

Hidden Disabilities

Many children have hidden conditions that result in disabilities. Some of the hidden disabilities found in children include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrumspecific learning disabilities, and mental health conditions. These conditions may not yet be recognized and diagnosed as a disability, yet may still lead to unexpected or challenging behavior.

When unexpected behaviors arise, ask yourself if a hidden disability might be a contributing factor. The right environment can enable children with hidden disabilities to thrive. Many people find it effective to use strategies developed for children with disabilities, even if they don't know for sure that a disability is present.

Resources from others

CLC Network's Online Store has the best collection available of books, kits, and videos geared toward supporting children with disabilities for full inclusion in faith communities. See our Reviews collection for other book suggestions.
 
Training videos are available from CLC Network, presented by Barbara J. Newman. Order one or all four from CLC Network.
  • Autism: A Christian Response
  • Behavior Management Playing Field
  • Make Heaven a Noisier Place: Including Children with Disabilities
  • Inclusion Tool Box: 52 Practical Ideas to Include Individuals with Disabilities. A version of this presentation is also available on YouTube.   
 

 Inclusion Toolbox

 
 

 Learn More

 
  • Christian education resources for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities.
  • Resources for teaching and preaching that support the full and intentional inclusion of people with disabilities.
  • Reviews of recommended books and videos for church groups and individual enjoyment
  • Request an ADN speaker for your congregation or group meeting.
  • Tips for effective inclusion of individuals with disabilities into church youth groups.
 

 Children's resources