Raising children with special needs is hard.
Just getting them to school and doctors appointments can be a struggle. Depending on the disability, kids can have a very negative experience fitting into the structures or routines of regular church attendance. Even when congregations make an effort to be inclusive, the barriers are simply too much.
I’m blown away by a recent blog post from Key Ministry on this topic. Dr. Grcevich shares the full results. That is an article you should read and hand out among your Sunday School teachers.
Here’s the key takeaway:
The study found that the children most likely to be excluded from church are those with autism spectrum disorders and common mental health conditions – anxiety, depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder and ADHD.
They are not talking about the obvious physical disabilities. This study looked at the “hidden disabilities” that are much more common than we imagine. These are the kind that manifest only in behavior and get kids labeled as “disrespectful” or “naughty” or “too rowdy for Sunday School.”
This study proves what every special needs parent has long known – the world of church attendance is not a welcoming place for many children. No matter what the leadership is saying, these families are voting with their attendance.
Can churches change? Can children’s ministry be structured in a way that welcomes every child? That’s a question we all need to be asking this weekend.