Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Age-Appropriateness

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photo corteousy of the Brick Bible

Our Good News Group members are ADULTS with learning disabilities.  They are individually and wonderfully made people who may find regular Bible teaching and discussion difficult to understand.

Cognitively, we have a wide range of people who like and are able to access different things. I will look at how we approach teaching the Bible in another post but I want to explain how we consider age-appropriateness in all aspects of our weekly meeting. This is not easy when we have people who are non-verbal, people who need a carer with them, people who are autistic, people who have severe learning difficulties and some who have moderate learning difficulties, people who are hearing or sight impaired and who are in wheelchairs.

There are 2 principles to help us think about what we are providing for the people in our group:

1) Remember that our group members are ADULTS at all times. We do not patronise them by imposing our ideas of what is or is not suitable for them. We can however, make suggestions based on our experience and research.

2) We ask them for their opinions, give them choices and listen to what they have to say, including ‘listening’ to those who don’t communicate verbally. They have a voice we must value.

Therefore, in consultation with our members we have found some things that work really well to make our group feel engaged in activities, the Bible and build friendships. Here are some examples:

the_parables_of_jesus       the_story_of_david       the_story_of_peter

  • Colouring books. Many of our group (including the carers who come) like colouring. We invested in some good quality felt-tips and found these great Bible-based colouring books from http://www.dayone.co.uk/products/books/younger-readers/bible-colour-and-learn?page=2 . We buy the right one for the Bible teaching we are doing each term. They have a small amount of text with each picture so we can read it together as we are colouring and it is a great tool to discuss what we have learned from previous sessions and what will be coming next in the story.  If you are buying in bulk as we do – we use https://www.10ofthose.com/ for a discounted rate and superb service.

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  • Crafts – we have found some great ideas from http://www.bakerross.co.uk/ who have produced some great Christian themed craft kits. They come in small numbers so if you have a small group they are ideal.(they have good sales too).  Or just copy their ideas – we do that sometimes. If we are using a kids craft idea we will add a Bible verse and generally try to make it more adult looking.

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  • Lego™  – some of the members said they really liked Lego™ and so we took some in. To link it to our bible teaching we found the Brick Bible http://thebricktestament.com . We can print out a picture of the story we are teaching and if they like to they can build something that represents the story. It at least provides a discussion focus. Quite a few of our team members like the Lego™ too!

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  • Jigsaws – many members like jigsaws but can only manage those with 12-40 pieces. We found some Bible story jigsaws but also have ones with animals, machines and buildings so they are not too child-like.

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  • Games – dominoes, Connect Four, Jenga and other family games are popular with some of our members too.

In another post I will talk about how we teach the Bible and what resources and activities we use. I will explain how we structure our meetings and how I have seen other groups do it.  In fact…I have a lot more to say….I only hope that other Christians and churches might find it useful.

Do you have adults with learning disabilities in your church?

How do they access the bible teaching and be part of your church community?

Are you a parent or carer of an adult with learning disabilities? What are your experiences of church?

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Comments on: "Age-Appropriateness" (2)

  1. Great post!

    Like

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