My son (who has level 3 autism) turned 10 earlier this month and hitting double digits has me thinking about his future. I know one day he will age out of the school system and the supports we get there, but will he also age out of special-needs ministry? Will there continue to be a place where he is comfortable, cared for, and taught about Christ's love at our church?
I can look to the example of my parents and my sister (who has Down syndrome), but she is fully integrated into church life in ways James may never be able to be. She attends Sunday school with my parents, sits through the church services and takes notes, and volunteers right along with our mom. Inclusion works for her and I'm so thankful!
But James has limits on how long he can sit still in the service (especially when his daddy, the pastor, is preaching!). He causes him stress and he release that with aggressive and self-injurious behaviors. He may always need a class where he's taught in ways he can comprehend and where he feels safe.
I've gathered resources from our years of writing on special-needs ministry and linked to them all in one place, so if you're thinking about disability ministry beyond children's ministry, you'll find resources, ideas, and success stories!
Resources for material for adults:
Outreach and Inclusion:
- Adults with disabilities and church attendance…What does the data say?
- Five activities to target and bless adults with disabilities
- Disability inclusion on mission trips
- Fitting in at church as a person with Asperger's
- The Glory of the Church Body—Especially the Indispensable Parts by Greg Lucas
- The Gathering by Emily Colson (about Benjamin's Hope)
- Autism and Church—It's a Good Thing by Kathy Bolduc
- The Church (and the floor) That Hold Up Max by Emily Colson
- I Forgot—Church Is Hard by Emily Colson