ERIC Number: EJ866142
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Spiritual and Religious Supports: What Difference Do They Make?
Exceptional Parent, v38 n3 p66-68 Mar 2008
If one asks any family, or a group of families, to share their experience with religious communities or to talk about the impact of their child on their spirituality, the answers one gets are rarely lukewarm. If the trust is there, stories emerge about how incredibly important their faith or faith community has been, on the one hand, or perhaps how their child has transformed or blessed them in profound ways. On the other, the stories may be about the pain and wounds they have felt when a clergyperson was not supportive, their belief systems were not helpful, or a congregation was not welcoming. In New Jersey, the author has been collecting stories from families for a resource booklet on autism to be made available to congregations. The range of stories has been extensive--from families who have left their congregation or faith community (or felt left by them) when there was no willingness to adapt religious education programs to include their child to a number of parents who talked about the first communion Sunday or the bar/bat mitzvah as the happiest and most important day of their lives as parents. In this article, the author shares one of his favorites that combines both experiences. He discusses the power of spirituality and religious issues in the experience of disability and the need to find ways to tap that power for good while minimizing the kinds of negative theological understandings or religious experiences that families encounter.
Descriptors: Beliefs, Religious Factors, Religious Education, Religion, Spiritual Development, Autism, Disabilities, Church Role, Personal Narratives, Attitudes toward Disabilities, Barriers, Social Attitudes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey