There are as many types of disabilities and special needs as there are children in our classes. I have researched some different programs, with the help of John Silva, and would like to give an overview of what types of issues the special needs community is facing and what steps are being taken to overcome them.
1/ Dietary issues. Many children these days have issues with gluten or wheat products. This can create a problem when it is time for Communion. These issues are being addressed by the Council of Catholic Bishops [https://www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/celiasprue.shtml] This population of people can either receive low-gluten consecrated hosts, or receive just the Precious Blood to accommodate their dietary restrictions.
2/ Physical issues. In accordance with state and federal laws all churches and places where faith formation takes place should be able to physically accommodate wheelchairs, or any other form of physical assistance.
3/ Autism spectrum or non-verbal disorders. Many new programs are using a primarily visual learning style to help teach people who cannot learn through traditional methods. https://thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=13005 , https://www.autismreligiouseducation.net/ these sites contain information on this type of learning.
I have contacted several of these programs and will provide updated information as I receive it. We have made huge strides in this area, but need to continue in these efforts to effectively serve all God’s children.
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