Helping Congregations Care for Members with Disabilities
Lessons from Jesus Christ,
the Master Teacher
Helping your students and their families starts with knowing them.
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
"How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
"And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
"Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
3 Nephi 17:7–11
"Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
"For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
"And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
"And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
"And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought."
"The worst thing you can do is ignore them. . . . They can tell when somebody loves them."
—Leslie Tanner, mother
"One thing that has been disconcerting for me as a parent is that others will address me: 'What would Curtis like to have on his plate?' or, 'What color does Curtis like for his flag?' I always say, 'Well, should we ask Curtis?'"
—Michelle Holbrook, mother and special educator
"Don’t worry so much about getting to know the clinical definition of what a disability is or what it may mean for a person, but just get to know the person. Get to know their likes, dislikes, their challenges, their gifts. And in getting to know the person you’ll have tremendous opportunities to know what you need to do to help them feel welcome and included. . . . The greatest work that is happening in this area is happening one person, one conversation at a time."
—Christopher Phillips, LDS Disability Services
LDS Member Resources
About the Author: Katie Steed
I am a wife, a mother, a follower of Christ, an educator, and an advocate for individuals with disabilities. I put all that I have into all that I believe.
For over fourteen years now I have had a strong focus in my life on what can be done to support members with disabilities in a church setting. I hope to use this website to share with others some of the things I have learned along the way.
Teaching Interests: Assessment, Reading Instruction, Intro to Special Education, and Supervision
Research Interests: Supporting members with disabilities to access their religion
Counseling Psychology and Special Education Department
David O. McKay School of Education
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
I wrote my master's thesis on the topic of disabilities and the Church. The official title was: Instructing Teachers of Children with Disabilities within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We created a video and a handout on how to help teach children with disabilities in a Church setting. We compared whether the video or the handout was more effective in boosting Church teacher confidence. What I found was that after even a brief training, individuals felt much more competent to work with someone with a disability. You can read my entire thesis here.View Thesis