Meeting Special Needs

There are several practical ways you can include people with special needs in your group.

As a teacher or leader, you want everyone to receive benefit from your group session. When someone with special needs could benefit from your group, you wonder how to meet his or her needs. How can you bring a sense of belonging to someone who usually feels like a misfit?

Here are some suggestions I have used in various situations to integrate special persons into a group:

Hearing impaired: Linda (all names have been changed) was in the young adult group when we studied the calling of Christ's disciples. Talented in arts and crafts, she made a poster to illustrate how Jesus chose the Twelve.

During role-play, depicting the judgment of God, Linda took the part of Jesus. When God started to pass judgment on a person for a sinful deed, Linda intervened to spare the person from the consequences of wrongdoing. This gave Linda an opportunity for drama and self-expression. I always provided her with clearly written directions and allowed her to take a nonverbal role in a skit.

Another way to include hearing-impaired persons is to write a question on the chalkboard and ask the entire group to respond in writing. Passing out papers and pencils can boost a person's morale.

Sight impaired: I am currently the substitute leader of a senior adult group that includes Melanie, who suffers from macular degeneration. For the most part, Melanie enjoys listening to the discussion. Sometimes the leader injects a bit of humor to recognize Melanie's personhood, something like, "How would you like to (participate in a ridiculous act), Melanie?"

As I write this, I am thinking of another way to minister to Melanie. I will offer to call her through the week and read to her the Scripture we will cover during the next session.

If arrangements are made ahead ...

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