This year has brought some changes at my church. The main change is the Director of Faith Formation. The previous director understood the needs of the special needs children in the congregation. She believed in inclusion, and worked hard with the parents to meet the needs of the children with special needs. This year, the new director announced that the special needs children might me segregated from the rest of the children. She is considering putting them all in one faith formation class.
I think this is a huge mistake. Especially when you consider that several are autistic, like my son. My husband acts as a one on one helper for my son. It’s the same for the other autistic children in the congregation. A parent acts as a one on one assistant. Our children are accepted by the other children in their classrooms.
By placing all the special needs children in one classroom, with an instructor that has no education on working with special needs children, I see a lot of problems that could arise. Even with the parents in there, I think the children will learn less. I think that the class time will be spent dealing with behavior issues, outbursts, and distractions.
We’ve voiced our opinion to the new Faith Formation Director. As of today, the classes are still inclusive. Parents have also been given the option of homeschooling their children. I don’t want to do that with my son. He doesn’t have that many opportunities to interact safely with NT children. I really don’t want to take that away from him.
My husband and I will continue to push for inclusion to be continued at our church. I think it is the best for all of our children. Since the parents are active in supporting the success of their child, I don’t see why the new director should have a problem with it.