Monday, September 20, 2010

#4 – Siblings Get Their Own ID

An unfair teacher or a girlfriend-break-up or a failed exam
isn’t nearly as big as your sister having brain surgery
or wondering whether your little brother with autism will ever learn to talk.

So, when typically-developing kids have a sibling with special needs,
they often start to feel their “stuff” doesn’t matter.
Way too often,
they hold back from telling adults the things that are going on in their world.

But kids who are typically-developing have needs that must be met, too,
even if those needs aren’t “special needs”.

We have to let them know that they—and their needs—matter.

Lots of parents work hard at this,
and try to make sure all their kids feel loved.

This is another way the church can help.

When children with special needs are welcomed and cared for at church
 their siblings are freer to participate in programs with their peers.

There, in a loving, life-affirming environment...

Typically-developing kids can be free to discover their own identity.
They become more than just the brother or sister of the kid who has tantrums
or the girl who uses crutches.

They can hear kids their age talk about normal issues...
the issues they themselves have been worrying about,
but haven't dared tell anyone.

They can talk about their own concerns
and receive love and attention from caring adults.

And there...
They can be taught biblical truths.
That God loves them.
He has a plan for them.
And God,
Maker and Manager of the Universe,
cares about them
and their “stuff”,
-- Reenie

#5 -- Next Up -- Adults' eyes open a little wider

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What Other Kids Learn When We’re Not Talking -- #3

Typically, these days, children without special needs are referred to as, well, typically-developing.

And those typically-developing children learn, too, when we actively welcome children with special needs into our churches.

You’d be surprised at what they hear us say... especially when we’re sure we’re not saying anything.

When they see us accept and love children with special needs, typically-developing children hear loud-and-clear the strong, silent message that their worth and lovableness don’t depend on appearance, accomplishment or potential.

So they learn the lesson of stronger, more solid self-esteem.

When children with special needs are included in a group with typically-developing peers, the other kids have an opportunity to develop compassion and understanding.

So they learn lessons that lead to a deeper, kinder character.

When children with special needs are fully included with their peers, typically-developing children are able to provide some of the extra support they need.

So they learn flexibility and adaptation -- valuable social skills in our increasingly-diverse society.

When typically-developing kids become friends with children with special needs, the typically-developing peers realize that children with special needs can give, too.

So they learn humility, and acceptance of their own limitations.

And... I bet they learn a million other lessons, too.

So -- what lessons do you see typically-developing children learn when they welcome peers with special needs?

Wherever you live or work, I encourage you to watch for these lessons... then write and tell us.

How long a list can we come up with together?

#4 -- Next Up -- Siblings Get Their Own ID