(as you can see, I'm not holding up to the daily post requirements of the blog hop, but I have a double ear infection, sinus infection, and nasty sore throat).
A couple of years ago I posted about a statistic that showed only 10% of families who have a child with special needs attend church. I'm copying that post here today with some revisions. We happen to attend a church that has a fantastic ministry to individuals with special needs. Micah has had the same helper in his class since we first moved here 3 years ago this month. Susie loves Micah, and she is the highlight of every Sunday for Micah (and now every Wednesday, as she has also volunteered to help Micah through Awana!). Here's a photo of Micah with Susie when we went to the apple orchard together.
Anyway... we're super blessed! But not everyone is so fortunate. Here's my post from 2 years ago:
Okay, I don't know what %
of American children attend church. So I don't know exactly how
significant the following statistic is: Only 10% of families with
children with special needs attend church. Why?
There could be many explanations for
this statistic. In some cases, it's probably the family's choice (not
"religious," or whatever). But I'm inclined to believe that the number
would be higher if it weren't so hard.
Exactly what's "hard" about going to
church? Have YOU tried to lug your child's wheelchair in and out of
the car all day long? Have YOU had to check the levels in your child's
O2 tank to make sure you can make it a few more hours before changing it
out? Have YOU had to mix formula (only available by prescription via
mail order) on the road? Have YOU had to get a child out the door who
doesn't want to go somewhere because he's going to be ridiculed for the
way he walks/talks/eats (or doesn't)? Have YOU had to worry about how a
nursery worker is going to deal with a feeding pump attached to your
Enter Sunday. A day of rest. A day
to refuel. And if you're a Christian, a day to worship. Is it any
wonder that families with kids who are differently-abled don't want the
hassle of hauling everyone out of the house to go to church? Especially
if it is even more of a hassle when they GET to church. And never mind what happens when the Sunday school teachers make it clear that they consider a child with needs to be a burden. Or a distraction.
We are blessed!!! We attend a
church that has a very strong ministry to individuals with
disabilities. When we moved to MN last fall, we had been encouraged to
head to two churches, both within 10 minutes of our house. The first
one we visited is where we had enrolled Nathan in preschool. We headed
for visitor parking. Someone directed our car to a parking spot. She
used a walkie talkie to have someone come to the door to meet us and
walk us to the childcare area. The director of early childhood called
in the director of the disability ministry and conversed with the pod
leader for toddlers to determine the appropriate room for Micah. It
would have been really easy to just put him in the infants room with
Matthew because they were both not walking at that time.
But I appreciate that they weren't interested in "easy." They were interested in Micah.
So Micah was put in a toddler room
(granted, with mostly new walkers so none of them could run over him).
But he stayed there all year as those children became runners. And he
can crawl about as fast as they run now. :-)
But my point is that they had
Micah's growth in mind. And so it is this fall as well. As we
approached "move up Sunday" (when the children move up a grade in Sunday
school), I spent some time talking with the directors of early
childhood and disability ministries again about how best to teach Micah
this year. There is a super sweet woman who had volunteered in Micah's
toddler room last year who asked if she could move up with Micah. She
has now been trained by the disability ministry and she is Micah's
Sunday school helper. She is with him in the 2-year-old classroom
during second service every week. It's much more structured than the
toddler room and it's very good for him to be with his peers.
We made the decision to have Micah
go to a toddler classroom during third service (when we're in Sunday
school) because I just didn't think he could handle two services without
down time. I was planning on picking him up between services and
moving him to the other classroom. But the sweet directors decided it
would be a better transition for Micah if he didn't see us between
services so Suzy is moving him to the other classroom for us.
All of this is possible because of
people who have a heart to serve. Sadly, not every church is like
ours. So to my friends out there who attend churches who don't have a
disability ministry, my question is, "Why not?" And what can you do to
serve the body of Christ through serving families who might find
attending church to be more of a burden than a joy?
Also, here's a link to another perspective from a fellow mommy of kids with designer genes.
What does YOUR church do to help families with children who might need a little extra help on Sundays?