I agree with the importance of an IEP. I want our boys to get the best education possible for them. Their IEPS help all of us- teachers, therapists, administrators, and parents- be on the same page in helping our boys reach their highest potential.
However, last year, I met with a group of moms who had children with special needs. We discussed our children's SPIRITUAL education rather than ACADEMIC education. We realized that we put so much time and effort into teaching our children about letters and numbers, but we don't always put the same seriousness towards how our children will learn spiritually.
As Christian parents and as churches, we have the responsibility and calling to teach our children about the Lord. When a child has a special need, our conventional ways of doing Sunday school, Bible class, and VBS may not work for that child. What often happens is the child and parent get frustrated because the activities don't work for them. Sometimes this means families with children with special needs stop attending. Sometimes the parents of the child get burnt out because they are constantly having to be present to help interpret and adapt activities for their child, never getting a break for themselves to be spiritually fed at church.
This is why the idea of one church down in Indiana is so fascinating to me: they offer an Individualized Worship Plan for kids with special needs. This is a chance for parents and teachers at the church to come together and think of the best way to communicate God's love to their child. This means the church will have extra support for that child so parents don't have to always be the one-on-one.
Here is the link for that special needs ministry in Dyer, IN:
Special Needs Ministry- Faith Church in Dyer, IN
The photos below are from our kickoff event for IFIT- a special needs ministry that churches in our area have organized. Its an amazing program!
Here is our website:
IFIT: Faith in Training
The reason IFIT came about is because a group of moms with children with special needs, from churches in our area, started talking about how church works for our kids. Church activities are often too difficult, have too many distractions and transitions, and have no one-on-one support for kids. We knew it was too much to expect each of our churches to the right setting for our 1 child so we thought about coming together as churches offering a special needs ministry for any families in the area.
Statistics show that families with children with special needs often don't participate in church. It's either hard for their children to participate in the activity because it's designed for typical children. Or families may not feel welcomed because their child is "different".
However these families need our churches' love and support, and children with special needs deserve to learn about God's love for them just like any other child.
HOW: IFIT meets children where they are at. Bible stories are told using many different approaches so that many different learning styles can be reached.
One-on-one buddies are available so each child gets personalized attention and assistance. Plus this gives parents a break- often parents of children with special needs feel like they always have to be involved because no one else is there for their child.
Also a trained medical professional is present.
STATISTICS REGARDING THIS ISSUE:Almost 1/3 of special needs families said they had left at least one church because their child was not included or welcomed.Nearly 50% of special needs parents said they refrained from participating in a religious activity because their child was not included or welcomed.More than half of special needs parents reported that they had kept their child from participating in a religious activity because support was not provided (55.8%) or been expected to stay with your child at a religious activity so your child could participate (55.3%).Above statistics found at: