On a daily basis, I cull voluminous amounts of information on special needs for the families we serve. This past weekend, as I was going through articles filtered by my Google screen, I ran across this: Why are special needs kids allowed in public schools? Now, for those who are not necessarily techno-savvy, you should know that these Yahoo forums allow for people to ask pretty much of anything unless or until someone flags it as inappropriate. The student posing this question goes on to express frustration with kids whom he feels are not “tolerable” because they “disrupt the class and need constant attention”. My stomach turned as I read him going on to explain that he cannot concentrate on his work when he hears other kids making guttural sounds, and gets annoyed when the teacher has to slow down the pace of the class to accommodate these kids.
My indigestion didn’t just rise up because of how hurtful this student’s remarks would be to those I serve, but also because I have long assumed that there are many students who feel the same way in inclusive classrooms across this nation. The sad thing is that we can change protocols in public schools, but that doesn’t necessarily change hearts. Additionally, one size does not fit all. We know that there are many kids in America who are “mainstreamed” when they truly do need the help of a separate class.
Shortly after running across this post, I ran across another that was at the opposite end of the spectrum: Why do people treat special needs kids different? In this Yahoo question, an individual with special needs talks about being taken advantage of financially. It is clear in this brief posting that this child just wants to be treated with acceptance and friendliness like their peers.
After reading these 2 posts, my mind suddenly wandered, thinking, What if we could bring both these kids in the same room together to talk? What would they say to each other? Would both their needs be met? Would they grow in acceptance of one another? Could both of their questions be answered simply by spending some time together?
While these challenges are social-cultural, it seems to me that the church is uniquely positioned to help people on both ends of this spectrum. Society may not be able to bring individuals to a place of heart change, but the Body of Christ surely can. Providing simple social opportunities for people of all abilities to come together and dialogue about a variety of issues certainly offers opportunity for transformation. And the presence of the One and only transformational God grants our ministry the ability to achieve what the secular world cannot.
What are YOU doing to build a bridge between “typical” and “disabled” individuals? How would you use your ministry to address irritations, lack of acceptance and even intolerance? What are some transformational measures you can think of to help reshape hearts?
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