Let’s look at the stats on special needs families and kids with disabilities:
- According to the last census, 1 in 5 families has a member with a disability
- “Across the country, 13 percent of students, on average, are identified as needing special education — in some states, more.” (NPR)
- Add in 504 kids with learning disabilities and mental health/behavior diagnosis, you could be close to 20% in your school district
Does your ministry reflect your district? Probably not. Families of kids with disabilities are less likely to attend church that typical families. (Read the stats here). But it’s likely you have kids in your classes now who could use some extra help and support.
What kids are we talking about? Those who need adjustments to understand the lesson and be able to participate in the activities. They include students with …
- Special needs: autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, being deaf or blind, other physical/cognitive disability
- Learning disabilities: dyslexia, dysgraphia, other oral/written language disorders, executive function deficits
- Mental health/behavioral diagnosis: ADD, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, trauma, social anxiety, OCD
It can seem overwhelming when you think about all the diagnoses and all the unknowns! But you don’t have to have all the answers. The resources on this website will help you welcome children with disabilities into your ministry so they have access to the gospel!
You may want to start here:
- Slides from “What Every Children’s Minister Should Know about Welcoming Children with Disabilities“
- Slides from “Supporting Students with Invisible Disabilities“
- Buddy bag Amazon list
- Pinterest board designing a sensory room (or corner or hallway)
- Buddy training video and slides (includes behavior management help)
- ISP template and blog post, Creating ISPs for Students with Special Needs, Learning Disabilities, and Behavioral Diagnosis
- Outreach ideas
- Family Care Plan
- How to support special needs families (powerpoint presentation)
Thank you for being willing to take steps to make your children’s ministry truly inclusive to all kids! Praying for you and praising God for the families you will reach!