As I mentioned in the last post, I am working on an instructor's manual for an excellent text on special education. One of the themes which comes through over and over in this text, is that there is a dramatic need for community integration of persons with severe disabilities. Professionals seek integration in any way then find it. For example, I was surprised as the low lever of "membership" described in the text. So, classroom membership is evidenced by a name of a child with disability on the classroom roster, or school membership by that same child wearing school colors. That is hardly membership as I would define it. But then I wondered even at that level, what percentage of the persons with mental retardation, particularly adults, would be listed on a church's roster? Even that low level of membership would be a step in the right direction.
At my church, we facilitated all of the adults with severe disabilities having their picure in the church directory. For some, it was the first professional picture they had ever had made. Each received a free 8x10 in addition to appearing in the directory which was a huge treat for them. So much more needs to be done in my church (and done by me for that matter) but I was pleased to see even that level of membership.
But membership means much more to me than a name on a roster or even a picture in a pictorial directory. It implies relationships, and caring, and finding out about another's life situation, and making even the most minimal effort. I would like to think that if my wife and I didn't show up in church for a couple of weeks or a month, that someone would wonder where we were. To me that is membership: being known and potentially being missed. Hopefully the same type of awarness and relationships will begin to occur for adults with disabilities.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
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