This page focuses on resources for religious education that includes persons with disabilities that affect the mind (intellectual, developmental, autistic, psychiatric). The Training page focuses on training persons to work with persons with all types of disabilities.
- Integration. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, will generally do well by being included in regular classes with adaptations in the curriculum, teaching methods, and/or staffing.
- Special Education. Sometimes, if a congregation is large enough and there are a number of upper elementary and early adolescent children around the same age and cognitive level, a “special education” class may be appropriate. Care should be taken to find alternate ways of integrating these children with the rest of the class(es) of the same group so that they do not become isolated, but are able to interact with their peers.
- Adults with developmental disabilities present a different kind of challenge. Sometimes, they can also be integrated with existing adult classes. Where separate classes are formed, past practice has often been to adapt children’s curriculum under the assumption that this is where their reading and thinking level is. However, congregations need to remember that these are adults with adult interests. Good options now exist for curricula that is written more simply for a lower reading level, but still takes adult interests into account.
The following are resources that can be helpful in addressing educational concerns for persons with intellectual challenges. Most are developed in a Christian context; exceptions are noted.
Guides for Educators
A Drama of Love A Christian Educator’s Guide to Creating Classes Where Everyone Belongs
A resource list with “Sunday School Resources for Teaching Individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities” compiled by ADNet.
Resources & Curricula
Services for Teachers
CLC Network provides education and support services to faith-based and public charter schools, home educators, and churches nationwide. Many of its printed resources are published in cooperation with Friendship Ministries (see above).
Barbara Newman introduces this concept and provides a sample ISFP form in her book Autism and Your Church.
Dimensions of Faith and Congregational Ministries with Persons with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families. Ed. William C. Gaventa. New Brunswick, N.J.: Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities. Download from the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center. A comprehensive bibliography and address listing of resources for clergy, laypersons, families, and service providers. Resources are organized by category, including worship and sacraments, the arts, architectural and attitudinal accessibility, mission, theology, pastoral care and counseling, religious education, resources for families, Jewish resources, etc. Note that this edition is from 2009 so entries may be out of date.