Sunday, October 21, 2012

Religious programming for children with special needs, continued...

Photo of Victoria Marin provided by Victoria

Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Victoria Marin continued our interview.

She shared, “This team approach strengthened us a family and gave us a better understanding of who we are as individuals. The writing of Aiden’s Waltz led me to explore other areas where there might be a need for a greater awareness for programming for children with special needs. With the prevalence of Autism greater than once thought, I found churches to be lacking in their ability to provide services for these children. In addition, many churches do not have a protocol in place to assist ministry workers in accepting such families.”

Victoria described her book,“Aiden’s Waltz is a sublimely reflective tale of Aiden Walsh, the new kid with autism at school. The reader is taken to his poignant yet fulfilling sojourn to acceptance and finding strength within himself. From peering through a frosted window while watching boys and girls playing soccer, Aiden rises from the shackles of autism as he dances across the ballroom floor with the grace and elegance of a swan. Aiden's Waltz provides a subtle and visually appealing way in dealing with autism to parents, educators, therapists, and just about anyone who seeks to understand the developmental disorder. In the end, I share with the reader that children with autism are like every other child who needs love, care and respect.

You can learn more about me and Aiden’s Waltz at my website,  Aiden’s Waltz is available through my website. My book can also be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.”

Victoria described her son, “My son shows deficits in following multi-step directives. His performance improves when he is given one on one instruction with steps presented one at a time. He struggles with abstract concepts and thinking. My son is very literal. He has had trouble with making friends and maintaining relationships. Now that he is 10 years old, his peers have honed in on his disabilities and have made it a point to let him know that he is different. His impulsivity has been problematic in certain settings such as church. It is not uncommon for him to interrupt a conversation or blurt out what comes to mind. His vocabulary is somewhat immature for his age and he has displayed difficulty with the pronunciation of words, even with repetition. This has also affected his writing skills.”

Their world has changed, “I was fortunate to meet Kathryn Ferdinand who helped to organize a church service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harrington Park, NJ for children with special needs. The ‘All God's Children’ service meets every two weeks and is a non-denominational Christian service designed to engage children with Autism, ADD, Down Syndrome, or any other physical, social or emotional challenges.  Sitting still and keeping quiet is not required. All families and children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the service. Holy Communion with gluten free bread and grape juice is offered to all who wish to receive. Active participation of the children in the service is always supported. The children especially love the cross parade around the perimeter of the church. The service has lots of singing with noisemakers, pompoms and maracas handed out at the door. The service is a lively combination of music, prayer, Bible stories, movement and Communion. Pastor Diane delivers the essential message of God's love and joy for all children in a meaningful way, which fosters inclusion. The ministry workers come together to provide a religious service, which is accepting family oriented.”

Her advice for others, “My advice to others who are struggling with similar disabilities is, Do Not Give Up. Although it can be trying and frustrating, our children thrive from our love. I was guilty of sheltering my son from situations, which I believed would lead to failure. After following his lead to pursue ballroom dancing, I saw that he has a keen awareness of his abilities. Listen to your children, be aware of their nonverbal cues and support them for they possess talents and are capable of achieving success.”

Victoria’s closing words, “Not all communities are blessed to have programs such as the program at St. Andrew’s. As parents, approach your church about starting a service for children with special needs. Not all ministry workers are trained to accept our children, therefore, be honest about the needs of your child. Offer your help and provide information that will be helpful in developing an enriching experience for your child AND the ministry workers. For those readers who do not have a child with special needs, invite the families to a coffee social or church event. This simple invite will help the family feel accepted by the church community.

For further information, I can be contacted via email at”

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