"God gave you a special gift. You are so good with those kids." I cringed. She meant well; she was actually trying to support me, compliment me, but the comment ran through my spine and I forced an awkward smile. I did not say anything; I needed a moment to myself before I spoke to my friend again.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. It is a great time to focus on our ministries and our purposeful inclusion of people with all abilities into the Body of Christ. It is a time to start building relationships and strengthen faith. It is time to remember how much Jesus loves His children . . . all His children.
As a member of Bethesda’s Religious Life Team, I find myself in interesting situations like the above. I realize that most people are not mean or have malicious intent. I know that usually when something inappropriate is said, it is truly out of ignorance or lack of experience. Eventually I will remind my friend that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), that adults with disabilities are not "kids," and that my teaching experiences are basically no different than other teachers' experiences. We all have goals for our students and we all work hard to find ways to help them reach their goals.
One of my favorite resources I use to help adults with developmental disabilities learn more about Jesus and grow their faith is The Story Bible. This book:
- is written at a level of understanding for all ages,
- includes discussion questions, an additional activity, and a prayer,
- has definition words to the side, reminding teachers the importance of concrete understanding,
- has the stories in the same order as the Bible,
- has beautiful, realistic and adult-like illustrations, also for concrete understanding,
- does not say "kids" or "for children" on the cover
It is wonderful to find a resource where learning with clarity is the priority. It is obvious the authors and project managers of this book took all people of all abilities into account with this design. I am so thankful I do not have to explain that, "No, Goliath is not a giant pickle!"
If you are blessed enough to live, work, teach or know adults with developmental disabilities, Bethesda has other resources available on www.cph.org. The Wonderfully Made series was specifically written for you! Check out:
- Wonderfully Made, Communicating for Success
- Wonderfully Made, Adapting Curriculum Using the Five Senses
- Wonderfully Made, Welcoming a Child with Disabilities into Your Family
Bethesda also has FREE downloadable disability awareness materials available. The materials include sermon notes, Bible studies for all ages, chapels, litanies and more. These are available at:
For more information about Bethesda: www.BethesdaLutheranCommunities.org.
Questions and comments: ReligiousLife@mailblc.org
Bethesda has been supporting people with disabilities for 114 years. Its mission is: To enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through services that share the good news of Jesus Christ.