As the Awana year begins, you may find yourself faced with a child who has special needs. The statistics are that you will probably, at some point in time, have a child with a special need.
Special needs come in many forms, and there is no one way to run a program with a special needs child, bu there are some very basic things you can do. I’d like to say that I am an expert, but I am not. I am simply an Awana Commander and children’s pastor who has experienced children with special needs in my many years of ministry. I have had successes and failures in ministering to children with special needs. The successes are great, the failures still “haunt” me today.
Here are a few basics:
1) Communication is key. The parents know what their child is facing, the therapy they are going through, what “sets them off” and what “calms them down”. I have had many successes when communicating and working with the parent, and failures when that communication is not there. Remember that communication is a two way street. Share with the parent successes the child has had in club.
2) Realize when you are not capable of effectively ministering to a child. You may encounter a child that you simply are unable to minister to effectively due to your resources. It is more detrimental to try to minister ineffectively. Show love and try to direct them to another church can may be able to minister more effectively.
3) Use available resources. Awana does provide some resources to help the local club. these include:
- Awana for Me – A guide to working with children with special needs
- Verse labels for Sparks and T&T which can be placed in the handbooks to help those with learning disabilities. Only use after consulting with the parents/guardians.
- T&T Discovery cards – while not an optimal solution, it can be useful.
I could write more about this topic, but others have also done very well and I have listed links below. If you have questions about my successes and failures, please feel free to contact me and ask. We learn by working together and we minister more effectively when we communicate one with another. As time goes on, I will try to post some scenarios I have experienced here on the blog.
A book I would highly recommend is Brokenness – by Lon Solomon
Other Web sites and articles:
The Inclusive Church – Amy Fenton Lee (an excellent web site resource)