Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#barriers’


News and Dreams!


“Nothing about me without me…”

It’s something we really believe in our ministry with adults with learning disabilities.  As we get asked to speak and share what we do, here and there, we try at all times to make sure that a mixture of our members who have learning disabilities have the chance to come along and share in what we do.  We are a team.

However, my trip to London this weekend sees me travelling on my own.  Mostly due to logistics such as time and cost.  I have been very blessed with gifts that have covered most of my costs and a lovely new dress I found in a local charity shop!! Don’t tell anyone – it’s purple (my favourite colour) and lovely!

On Saturday morning I’m going to be one of the people interviewed about disability and the church on Premier Gospel’s Family Hour.  Here’s the link if you want to listen  I’m so nervous and am hoping people understand my northern accent…I don’t have a posh version!

Then the afternoon will be spent at the Christian New Media Conference ….and then… the awards evening.  Lots of people have asked me if I’ve prepared an acceptance speech, but I haven’t.  I’m really not expecting to win, but I might need to think of what I might say? Just in case?

Other events

Three of us from the Good News Group, including a lovely young woman who has Asperger’s Syndrome and loves to help people understand how disabled people can do anything other people can do, went down to Walsall this week.  We did a short presentation as part of the Churches for All training course and had the pleasure of learning from the other presenters there too.  We concentrated on showing as well as telling the participants how we make the Bible accessible to adults with learning disabilities.

Dreams and Ambitions

We can be very motivated when we have a dream.  I have had many dreams in my life but at the moment I am trying to work out which are my dreams and which are God’s.  The truth is only HIS dreams will be the right ones and often they don’t come easy.  What seems exciting on the outside can be risky, challenging and cause difficulties in other areas that we may not anticipate.  It is easy to make a dream our idol, focussing on that rather than the author of the dream.   We should keep in mind how many unlikely people God used to fulfil his plans in the old and new testaments and throughout history.  It is more likely that God will use one of the disabled people from our group to reach out, touch the hearts of others and complete God’s plans, rather than me or any other of the leaders.  That is why as a team, we are committed to prayer and looking out for the gifts and dreams of our group members so we can allow and help God’s plans rather than hinder them.

If you are a member of a church that does not yet include people with learning disabilities – thank you for even reading this blog and please do look at some other posts I have written to see what else I have to say.  I want to encourage you to dream.  A church with the whole body complete – a place that includes ALL people is God’s dream. If he has shared that dream with you – be honoured and humbled – and pray it into being.  Trust him and seek him, so that you will not be surprised who and what he uses to bring that dream into fruition.  Try not to use the word ‘BUT…’

God Bless you and do get in touch if you need help or support



Let’s help one another…

After all the excitement of being one of the finalists of the ‘Most Insipring Leadership Blog’ – – I read all the other blogs in the category and there are some great and varied fellow finalists.  Blessings to everyone whether we win or not!!!

finalistmilb.png  images

But now I have calmed down and it is business as usual…

Reaching out to other churches has been in my heart and prayers for some time, hence this blog was started and I have worked hard to make links with others who are like minded.  One opportunity I had recently was to work with a church in Preston to help them overcome some of the difficulties the were having.  A child with autism who I used to teach goes there with her mum and for 4 years has been settled and well supported. Recently she has been getting more inquistive, less settled and occasionally hitting out at those who are helping her.

This may be something that others have experienced too.  As a child grows older we can often find that they want to spread their wings and the things that helped them when they were younger are no longer effective. Frustrated at being told ‘no’ or unable to communicate what they do want can cause some children with autism to hit out and become upset or have meltdowns.  Their sensory sensitivities might change and so some environments may become intolerable where previously they were not (and visa versa).

Fortunatley I used to teach this child and knew them and their mum reasonably well.  But it was clear that although the congregation were very supportive, the strain of not knowing what to do and the risk of being hurt was causing stress to build up for the child, between the people who were supporting the child and the for the mum.  Knowing me and that I had offered to help if they needed it, has enabled us to deal with this situation and make it better.  Just by doing something early on, before it got to a point where the church situation broke down for the family – and all the reprocusions that brings, we can see a positive way foraward for the child and everyone who loves and cares for them.  People do leave churches, people do feel hurt and let down, people feel unable to cope – just for the want of someone to come alongside them and help; someone who has knowledge and experience and can see the problem from all points of view.

Mark Arnold from Urban Saints has just launched a great idea to do just this…They are offering churches the chance to have someone with some knowledge and experience to visit them, observe the difficulties they might be having and suggest ideas and resources to make things work better for the child and family.   You can get more information at – and here are their posters.



What did I actually do with the church in Preston?  Well, they called together all the people who wanted to help and support the child, on a Sunday and in their children’s evening club.  I offered to do an hours session about autism so that we could be sure that everyone knew what it was and how it affected this particular child.  This went very well and people responded by saying how much more they understood the child and why they did things the way they did.

We then spent another hour discussing the main issues that they were having difficulty with.  I asked them to focus on 3 things that if we changed what we did, would have the most impact.  We chose

  1. Access to doors and offices.
  2. Sunday morning in the main church.
  3. The children’s club – coming in and getting alongside the other children.

As with all the work I do, we are looking at it from the child’s point of view and seeing what will change how they interact and engage with the situations to make it more positive for them and the people they are interacting with. So we came up with a red / green spot visual aid, to communicate to the child which doors could be opened and which could not  (we didn’t want to be locking doors).  I put a positive social story together to help explain this to the child.  Then we worked on making the Sunday service more structured and used the child’s special interests to build in activities that would engage her and encourage her to stay in one place.  Finally we made a plan to come alongside the child and their peers at the children’s club and teach them how to play some of the games the child had shown interest in.  This would be done slowly and enable the other children to interact positively and successfully with a limited verbal child.

I did provide the visual resources and typed up all the ideas onto a plan, which included what to do if the child did become distressed or hit out.  This was so that everyone who supports the child can be consistent.  This was with the full involvement and agreement of the child’s mum.  Parents are essential to this process and where possible the child themselves should be involved.  This child is too young BUT we sought their views by researching what they liked and enjoyed in activities and sensory experiences so that the plan was positive and inclusive of their views.

So far, the feedback has been positive and the people who are involved are trying everything out.  We agreed to meet up again after about a month of trying these things, to review and adapt things as nescessary. I would then expect the church to be able to work with the child without my continued help (unless something different needs to be taken into account).  This is important.  The help I offered is to equip the church to support the child, not to organise or do the work myself.  This is the way this support can be sustained – I am only one person, with limited time and resources and I would rather use my expertise and experience to enable others to do the job themselves.

This is why I love the Urban Saints idea and have signed up to be one of their volunteers.  It is about passing on and supporting with experiences and resources – but mainly about helping churches to build up their own expertise and be equipped to support children and young people with additional needs themsleves…

I think it would work well if we included adults with additional needs in this service too…

We’re in Christianity Magazine!


We are very excited. The buzz of anticipation has been growing for weeks as we knew it was going to happen! And today it did!
Back in February, Sarah Lothian, journalist and writer, travelled up to attend one of our Good News Group meetings and interviewed some of our members and serving team.
And now, in the August edition, her 1000 words about our ministry has finally appeared and we couldn’t be more pleased. You can find it here…

So if you have read this and decided to investigate the link to this blog here are some of my favourite posts that I think give an overview of our passion to teach the Bible to adults with learning disabilities well, to build our members up as disciples of Jesus and contributors to the body of Christ and to deal with some of the difficult issues that this and any ministry might come across.

You can get in touch with comments and questions at

  1.  _45233302_f238da6b-d622-47fe-9753-72aba54ab2c3I did a series of posts about the different BARRIERS people with learning disabilities can face    “Barriers”  “Barriers 2”  “Barriers 3”  “Barriers 4”  “Barriers 5”
  2. IMG_0223 This lead to a couple of posts about how we can communicate well to people with learning disabilities: “A model of God’s communication” , “Explaining ‘sin'”
  3. IMG_0214 I’ve done some posts about our teaching the Bible sessions and topics.  From creation to revelation we don’t want to leave out any part of the word (although we haven’t got through all of it yet!!!!)  Judges:  Creation:  Christmas:  Noah to Jesus:  Peter:
  4. MP900390083 These post cover some of the issues we’ve had to deal with such as discipling, prayer life and discord: “Washing up and a one-legged puppet”  “Enabling PLD to be active in prayer”  “Age-Appropriateness”   “Adult’s behaving badly”  “Whose choice is it?”
  5. gold-panning I write a lot.  Here are some articles and stories I have written… “Life’s not fair…Ecclesiastes and Wisdom”  “Panning for Gold and being honest with God”  and finally my short story,  “She danced for Him.”

Do take the time to look at some of these, make comments and please do return.  We’d love comments about the article and to know about your stories of working with people with learning disabilities in church too!   We are putting together our teaching materials to publish and share with others so if you are interested in learning about these, get in touch.

God bless you all.

Rejoice in the Lord, good people!
    It is only right for good people to praise him.
Play the lyre and praise the Lord.
    Play the ten-stringed harp for him.
Sing a new song[a] to him.
    Play it well and sing it loud!
The Lord’s word is true,
    and he is faithful in everything he does.
He loves goodness and justice.
    The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth.
The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made.
    The breath from his mouth created everything in the heavens.
He gathered together the water of the sea.
    He put the ocean in its place.
Everyone on earth should fear and respect the Lord.
    All the people in the world should fear him,
because when he speaks, things happen.
    And if he says, “Stop!”—then it stops.[b]
10 The Lord can ruin every decision the nations make.
    He can spoil all their plans.
11 But the Lord’s decisions are good forever.
    His plans are good for generation after generation.
12 Great blessings belong to those who have the Lord as their God!
    He chose them to be his own special people.
13 The Lord looked down from heaven
    and saw all the people.
14 From his high throne he looked down
    at all the people living on earth.
15 He created every person’s mind,
    and he knows what each one is doing.
16 A king is not saved by the power of his army.
    A soldier does not survive by his own great strength.
17 Horses don’t really bring victory in war.
    Their strength cannot help you escape.
18 The Lord watches over his followers,
    those who wait for him to show his faithful love.
19 He saves them from death.
    He gives them strength when they are hungry.
20 So we will wait for the Lord.
    He helps us and protects us.
21 He makes us happy.
    We trust his holy name.
22 Lord, we worship you,
    so show your great love for us.

Psalm 33 – Easy English Version

Whose choice is it?


As a church group for Adults with Learning disabilities, the Good News Group includes a wide variety of members like any other church congregation. Some of our members come to us independently, some have lifts and others are totally reliant on the carers who are employed to look after them to bring them along.

I have been looking around at the various Disability legislation, Human Rights Acts, reports, studies and recommendations about the right to have a spiritual life. There is very little explicitly said and it is an on-going search so I won’t be quoting legislation here, but it IS a right and a choice that all people with disabilities should have and those who look after them should give them choices to exercise that right.

I am writing about this now because in the past we have had members of our group stop coming. As we investigated we have got the impression that a change of carers seem to be a frequent factor in the decision not to come to church.  Now, I cannot get solid evidence but maybe you who read this might have something to add.  I just find it curious that a change of staff can suddenly see the person with disabilities changing their mind about wanting to come to church and have a spiritual life that is connected to learning about the Bible and faith in Jesus.

inclusive church

I have found that there seems to be a distinct lack of training for care staff about the spiritual needs and choices for people with disabilities…and those who are non-verbal, physically dependent on those who do care for them, then having that choice and acting on it is reliant on the carer being willing to go along with them.  Here’s one report I am looking at…

Claire Wilson, (2011) “Is there a case for community learning disability teams considering the spiritual needs of people with learning disabilities?”, Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 16 Iss: 3, pp.31 – 40

Purpose – National guidance in Scotland says that spirituality is part of healthcare. This paper aims to review some of the evidence that this is a relevant but neglected topic across the lifespan for people with a learning disability (PLD) and their families, rarely addressed by healthcare professionals.

Findings – There was qualified support for the first and third questions and little awareness of any training for health staff on spiritual matters.


I love the carers who do come to our meetings. They are focussed on the needs of the people they are caring for, and do recognise the right for them to have a spiritual life.  They help them respond to our activities and some have been quite honest in the fact that they don’t share our beliefs, whilst others have responded to the gospel while they have been part of our group!

As followers of Jesus we are charged to spread the gospel.  I have been challenged for some time to look beyond the walls of the church and explore where Jesus might want us to go…reaching out to those who are not aware of the choice they have to have a spiritual life, to know Jesus and choose to follow him.  It depends on people like us getting out there, communicating, going to the places where Jesus would send us.  I am glad there are others with the same desire…and excited that many of them have disabilities themselves and want to share their faith with others, with anyone who will listen.

I’m just not sure where to begin and how I’m going to get there…but I know God does!


Having choice was felt to be important because it helped improve health, maintain independence and retain chosen identities. However, exercising choice was meaningful only if available options met individual preferences and people had access to relevant information; accepting the ‘least bad’ option did not feel like a ‘real’ choice. In practice, most participants thought their desired options were either limited or not available.



Panning for Gold and being honest with God.


Nothing, especially God, is simple.

SCBUIf someone was born with a disability; and if I believe psalm 139 about God creating us in the womb; then has God created the person with that disability or impairment?

Ummm…hard and uncomfortable question…

These past few days I have been encouraged and challenged to dare to ask God and myself the hard things I wonder about disability. The things I usually push to the back of my mind…fearful of not knowing…or not wanting to explore the deep places of God where I might find some answers and probably more questions.
It started with the Association of Christian Writers weekend at the gorgeous Scargill House in Yorkshire. Adrian and Bridet Plass along with Sheridan Voysey, encouraged and challenged us writers to ‘Pan for Gold’ in the story of our lives and of those we write about. Gold, you see, takes some patience to collect. It settles in miniscule flecks and after a lot of patient ‘panning’ to filter away the unnecessary and irrelevant.
The gold of our lives can be found when we look with patience and perseverance, carefully sifting and finding. As writers we looked at how we share our stories in memoir that can be meaningful to our audience. Sheridan Voysey shared his story and how he had brought it under a theme, of broken dreams and new beginnings. But honesty is very important. God can deal with our honesty because we bring it to him with all the repentance, confusion, emotional baggage and rawness that go with it. God loves us to come to Him as we are, not as we pretend to be.


My life story is inextricably linked with people with a disability. I have supported and worked in care, education and churches for a long time. I realised that I have many questions I haven’t dared to ask. Many of them are linked with those “Whopper questions” that dare to ask God ‘WHY?’ They sneak about the back of my mind threatening to make themselves know while I politely push them back and tell them…Not now!

So, here were these questions about why people are born disabled, why do they face so many obstacles, why do they suffer… and then a huge cavernous hole with devouring monsters opens up in front of me, threatening to unleash the whole caboodle of tricky questions about life, suffering, death, blessing, growth and God! Thanks Adrian…I thought they had been well-sealed away.


    And two days later I attend the Enabling Church conference of the Churches for All organisation in West Bromwich, near Birmingham. So many people, worshipping, listening, discussing and sharing together. There were signers and interpreters, Braille hymnbooks, subtitles, wheelchair users, blind, deaf, learning disabled, able-bodied and autistic people – all together with the purpose to find out how to make churches more inclusive.
And we didn’t dwell on the big questions, or did we?  Here are some of the things that made an impression on me…
Professor John Swinton started it off by saying
“There are many different ways of being a human being and encountering the world.”
He encouraged us to;
“Be a guest in the world of a person with a disability, learn from them and their lives, let them               serve and give to you.”
Haydon Spenceley, a PHD student who happens to be a wheelchair user said;
“People with disabilities have enough pain, suffering and injustice, without the church making it worse.”
Ann Memmott explained how an autistic person can be supported in church and that current research is showing maybe up to 1 in 30 people have autism. What are the statistics in your church?
Jonathan Edwards, (the Baptist Minister), challenged us to find out what the reality of the Welfare Reforms mean to people with disabilities in our congregations and communities. He said we should be speaking up for the vulnerable and speaking out for those who have no voice, or who can’t.
Finally I listened to Care for The Family’s additional needs team. They spoke about how we all long for acceptance AND for significance…therefore HOW can we identify and encourage people with learning disabilities and additional needs to develop and use their gifts in our church?

This post is not about providing answers. In fact the questions may not have any neat or simple idea or answer. I am exploring questions and challenges God has brought to me through these two experiences and praying about how they challenge us in our church. I have to ask myself –
Do I trust that God loves us, accepts us, helps us, blesses us, builds us, moulds us, disciplines us, is delighted with us and brings out the tiny flecks of gold in our lives through patient, careful ‘panning’ of the experiences, the pain, the suffering and the triumphs of our lives?

What about you, dare you ask some big questions?

Isn’t that panning for the gold?

High Expectations

inclusive church
“Disabled people are not incomplete examples of so called “normal” humanity but complete persons before God. Their impairments and disabilities are part of their human identity…God has called each of us into being. None of us is a surprise or an accident or a mistake and certainly not an embarrassment to God. He has called us into being and each one of us has a vocation.”
Bob Brooke p28 in “Enabling Church” by Gordon Temple and Lin Ball (2012)

What do you really think of people with disabilities? Are they people we care for or minister to? Are they numbered amongst your friends or in your family? Do you see having to make accommodations for them as a chore? Are they a part of the church that can’t serve but need people to serve them? Are they receivers rather than givers?

The language we use about people with learning and other disabilities in society and in our churches reflects and informs our attitudes. Currently there is a new Children and Families Act going through parliament which sets out a new SEN code of practice. It is all about meeting the needs and providing the services children with SEN and disabilities need from others. The media has been full of negative reports concerning the assessment of people’s disabilities for benefits and whether they deserve housing benefit if they have a room in their house that is necessary or not. Attitudes, comments and beliefs that inform people’s view of people with disabilities are becoming more negative…so much that I wonder what happened to all the positives of the 2012 paralympics.

The Bible states:
“For it was you who formed my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
That I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes looked upon my unformed body.
In your book was written
all the days that were formed for me,
When none of them as yet existed.”
Psalm 139 verses 13-16

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
2 Corinthians verses 4-7

An inclusive church is one that sees each person as having equal worth and as having something to contribute. The trouble is that we often deliver a ‘one-size-fits-all package that means that some people are excluded. We use complicated language, we ask people to stand to sing, we ask people to serve and then expect them to do it in a way that lives up to someone else’s strict expectations. This leaves many people feeling a failure in the church, not just those with disabilities. Only this week I was speaking to a friend who is a new Christian. She has joined a good church but already finds the language and expectations confusing. How can we talk about a God of grace when they are trying to fit people into a mould she doesn’t understand, or feel that she can never fit into?

We are trying to address this at our Good News Group. First we have to establish a right attitude…God loves us all equally. We are all his children and all have a purpose in his plans. We can all receive and serve.


In reality it means flexibility….In how we do things and expect things to be done and in how we teach the Bible.
In how we do things we have to look for ways the people with disabilities can use their interests, gifts and willingness to serve the group and the wider church. Therefore we started asking for volunteers to do many of the weekly ‘jobs’ that enable us to function. It has been very successful in that the team feel less pressured and have more time to build relationships with the group, some things are done slower or differently but they get done with a sense of achievement we can all appreciate. The members of the group are active and not passive and are learning new skills. There is a greater sense of ‘oneness’ in the group rather than ‘us and them’ and it is beginning to feel more like the kind of ‘real’ church we see the Bible asking us to be. We are looking to find ways in which the members can be involved in contributing to the leadership of the group. We already seek their views and take on their ideas but how about seeking to find those with leadership potential and giving them a place and voice on the leadership team?

In teaching the Bible the early leaders made a declaration not to treat these people like children but to aim to give them access to the Bible as adults. This is what I first admired about the group when I joined. The challenges have been that those preaching have had to learn new ways of communicating and making that teaching accessible. We have had to learn about our members and how they learn. We watch their responses and reflect on what works well and what doesn’t. We bought a symbol package, learned Makaton and puppeteering, and found sources of good pictures that weren’t childish. We learned to explain complicated and academic words clearly and step by step. We learned how to address challenging concepts such as sin, salvation and reconciliation. We explore the old and new testaments and don’t rule any part of the Bible out because it is unpalatable. We have learned to see Jesus in the whole Bible and help our members see Him too.
I have been delighted and amazed at the response to our Bible teaching but I know we cannot rest…

Where we in our group have high expectations of what our members can do and can access in terms of understanding the Bible, we know this is a small and insignificant part of the whole church in this country. I long to take what we have learned and talk and equip other churches to see how people with disabilities can make the body of Christ whole. So many churches are lacking because they don’t have people with disabilities or if they do, don’t know how to really include them. Those of us who do must speak up more and reach out. We should be sharing and challenging and equipping others to be inclusive church. I long to see a shift and change that moves us away from rituals and specific ways of doing things and instead be real families that love and serve Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thanks to those who are already doing this – I know some of you and you inspire and encourage us all at GNG and me personally. Here’s a great resource to start you off:

Please do comment –  I love it when you do  🙂

She danced for Him.

A short story by Lynn McCann



Susie didn’t like getting up that morning. It was cold and Ken was cross with her. She refused to get out of bed and short of pushing her out, there was nothing Ken could do.

By lunch time she was very hungry so she made her way in her pyjamas to the dining hall. Susie put on her fiercest face so none of the staff would challenge her to get dressed. She didn’t even like the thing called shepherds pie that they gave her but she ate, one mouthful at a time until it was cold and everyone else had left the room.

Susie didn’t like going to the lounge. Usually Ken or Sandra would try to make her join in something. Mostly she didn’t understand what they were saying and whatever they put in front of her, usually a piece of board with numbers or writing on it made Susie want to throw it across the room. She was getting good at aiming for certain people who might have annoyed her sometime. They stopped asking her to join in eventually. Susie preferred to sit in her room watching Strictly Come Dancing, over and over again.

It wasn’t Susie’s fault that she punched Kevin that day. He came far too close and she was fed up of him trying to touch her boobs. But Ken and Sandra hadn’t noticed that. As she watched Kevin fall to the floor in slow motion, the staff bounded across the room like superheroes blocking the baddie’s escape and holding Susie’s arms so tightly behind her back that the pain rushed into her head and screamed.

Susie couldn’t remember screaming hysterically or biting Sandra, but she could remember the way they pushed her to the floor and pinned her down. Susie might have been small and round but Susie knew what danger was and she was going to fight it. She was exhausted from the writhing, kicking and convulsing as they carried her to the punishment room. They didn’t even change her. She sat in her damp clothes, staring at the blank wall and retreated into Strictly Come Dancing land where Susie could dance in the pink sequinned dress she had always dreamed of.

Susie didn’t know why they came to get her. It wasn’t even night time. Sandra hissed at her to stop humming and Ken told her to behave for the visitor. Susie was too tired to fight but she wondered what visitor would ask for her especially and whether he would mind that she stank of pee.

Susie shuffled into the lounge and Ken and Sandra ushered her to one of the empty chairs at the back. Then they left her alone. The room was full. Everyone from every ward seemed to be there. No-one seemed to have noticed that she came in, their whole attention was focussed on the Man stood at the front of the room. Only he wasn’t stood still, he began to move towards the people sat at the front, touching each one and whispering to them. Susie wasn’t going to look but she found herself desperately wanting to hear what he was saying…and desperately wanting that look each person he touched displayed on their face.

The room began to buzz with humming, singing, laughter and conversation as the Man walked up and down the rows, missing no-one out. Susie was the last person, sat apart from everyone else.

She found herself unable to look at Him. She felt bad for all the times she’d hit out lost her temper. She felt dirty because she had wet herself and he smelled so lovely. Susie felt sure he wouldn’t speak to her. When she was bad, no-one did.

Susie, would you dance with me?”

In shock she looked up at the kindest most beautiful face she had ever seen. It was as if stars burst out of his eyes and the whole world was etched on his face. Without taking her eyes from His she nodded and He took her hands gently in His. Together they glided towards the front of the room and suddenly there was music. Susie felt as though a waterfall came down from heaven and washed her dirty, smelly clothes away and replaced them with a pink sparkly ball gown that swished and bobbed gracefully as she danced across the floor with the Man.

Susie, will you follow me?” He whispered in her ear.

Yes!” she squealed with delight, “I will.”

Will you teach others to follow me too?”


Show them how I danced with you, tell them I AM JESUS.”

The hospital found her a place to live, a lovely home with friendly house-mates and kind staff who take her to the dance school every week. Susie still dances for Him. And at the end of her dance she tells the audience how Jesus came to dance with her. People are amazed at her peace and joy.


This short story was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother about an old ‘mental hospital’ (that’s what it was know as) in our county that I had once visited as a student and he had once worked at. The way that people with learning disabilities were shut away and treated was quite appalling at times and we were both thankful that the old hospital had been closed and the residents moved into group homes in the community. My brother told me that patients were sometimes locked in the toilet, naked or in their wet clothes for the whole day as a punishment for needing more than one incontinent pad a day. I just wanted to remember that Jesus cared for those people too and what might have happened if he had visited it for one day.


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