Children with Disabilities

All Are Welcome

If we truly believe, as our work in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd tells us, that we are “led by the child” then we will meet each child in the atrium wherever they are on their faith journey. In the Rome atrium, there was a woman working on the Level II “Mystery of Faith” presentation, she was a person with a developmental disability. Sofia commented, “…in here she has clarity.” It is really that simple! Once a child with disabilities is accepted into an atrium, many practical tasks remain: assessing the child’s abilities, identifying a catechist, and determining which materials are appropriate. Linda Sgammato, CGSUSA Advisor for Children with Disabilities and Director of Special Religious Education, Catechetical Office, Archdiocese of New York offers words of greeting here.

First of all, always remember that:

  • You already have everything you need… to welcome, to support and to share the faith with children in your atrium who have disabilities. You will find that the efforts you make on behalf of particular children have a way of reaching a much wider sphere.
  • When you respond to the need of a family, you reflect the God of inclusion. When you say “yes” to include their child, you are saying “yes” to the whole family. Your “yes” means we are truly a Church that will move boundaries to make sure that there is a place for everyone.
Unless you are the parent of a child with a disability or a special education teacher you may not feel you are knowledgeable enough to work with children who have disabilities. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of the various types of disabilities that children in your atria may have.

There are several sources you can turn to for this information including a Parish Resource Guide for Welcoming Children with Disabilities, “Recognizing The Gift,” that has been published by the Catechetical Office of the Archdiocese of New York, Linda Sgammato and Sr. Anne Ryan, PBVM, co-authors.

Helpful Links for those Working with Children with Disabilities:

Catholic Partnership on Disability

Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities

Religion and Spirituality Interest Network of AAIDD

Archdiocese of New York

Download Helpful Link PDF

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