From: Jennifer Ross

Resurrection has been serving with people with special needs for over 20 years.  The congregation has grown in his comfort level of how to interact with people with special needs.  In order to increase the comfort level of the congregation, I thought it would be helpful to share these tips.  People with special needs are more like than different neurotypcial people.  When I talk to our friends with special needs, I talk to them  just like I would to anyone.  They like the praise music, just like me, they like the video clips, just like me, they love Christmas at Resurrection, just like me!  By embracing our congregation members with special needs, we are treated to the joy of seeing loving unconditionally.

Below are the Ten Commandments for Welcoming Persons with Disabilities to Church

1. Treat a person with a disability as you would anyone else. Relax when communicating. Rely on natural courtesy, consideration and common sense. Avoid getting flustered or irritated if misunderstandings arise. Repeat yourself if you sense misunderstanding, or ask the person to repeat himself or herself if you do not understand. Here are the Ten Commandments For Welcoming Persons with Disabilities to Church.

2. Address the individual, not an assistant, interpreter or family member.

3. Treat adults with disabilities as adults rather than as children, regardless of the disability.

4. Speak at a normal rate, without exaggeration or overemphasis.

5. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the person’s disability.

6. To facilitate communication, have pads of paper and pencils available in all meeting rooms and other gathering places on parish property. Use them when helpful.

7. Allow people to do things for themselves when they want to, even if it takes longer or results in mistakes. Do not always “do for” the person.

8. Offer assistance, but do not impose if help is not desired.

9. During all gatherings or meetings, allow time to attend to personal needs and rest. Be patient.

10. Respect the individual’s personal space and auxiliary aids. Do not lean against or push a wheelchair, pet a service animal in a harness, move wheelchairs, crutches, white canes or other assistive devices out of reach of a person who uses them.

Source: 2000 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications.

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