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«Sally Patton UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION BOSTON Copyright © 2004 by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. All rights ...»

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Are we labeling imaginative and creative children as disabled and dysfunctional? Are we nurturing the creativity of all children?

Labels, with their associated behaviors, can become selffulfilling prophecies. Imagine that you had to walk around all day with a sign on your chest that listed all your faults and deficits.

Imagine how people would interact with you, how you would feel, and how you would act. Now imagine what it would be like if all people ever saw were your gifts and strengths. Imagine how you would feel and how people would interact with you. Children who have been labeled with a disability walk around as if they have huge signs on their chests that list all their problems and deficits.

And we wonder why some of these children are angry, anxious, and depressed! Labels can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

I believe children with special needs can inspire us to create a more inclusive world in which differences are seen as gifts. We can challenge educational and medical practices that are not working for our children and adopt what Judith Snow calls the giftedness paradigm instead of the disability paradigm that exists today. Each of us is different in a myriad of ways. In the disability paradigm, society decides what differences are normal and what differences are disabilities. In the giftedness paradigm, every person is seen as unique and therefore all differences are seen as normal.

We can adopt the giftedness paradigm in our faith communiC0nclusion ties, nurturing the innate spirituality of children, recognizing differences as opportunities for meaningful interaction, weaving all children into the fabric of our church communities, embracing social justice issues related to special needs, and offering a sanctuary in which children are safe and free to explore who they are. We can support a struggling family with the embrace of a caring congregation through support circles and spiritual exploration. We can see all children as perfect in God’s eyes.

Acknowledgments Many people made this book possible: funders, advisors, friends, and family. My sincere thanks go to the Fund for Unitarian Universalism of the UU Funding Program for providing the majority of the money for the writing of this book. I am deeply indebted to Hillary Goodridge, the Program Director, for her enthusiasm, unfailing sense of humor, constant emotional support, and complete understanding of what I was trying to accomplish. I am also grateful to the Unitarian Sunday School Society for contributing generously and enthusiastically. The UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock generously supported the editing phase and provided funding for denominational training, for which I am also truly grateful.

There have been many changes of staff at the UUA since this project began. Through it all, I have had enduring patience and support, guidance, and understanding from Rev. Pat Hoertdoerfer.

This book would not have been possible without her leadership, advocacy, and sincere belief in the need for such a manual. I am also appreciative of Jacqui James’s early support and advice. During the final stages, Judith Frediani’s guidance and expertise were critical in ushering the book to publication. She was an unswerving advocate during a critical time. And finally, thanks to Rev. Devorah Greenstein, who entered my life during the editing process and lent her support and expertise.

Special thanks to my church, the Winchester Unitarian Society in Massachusetts, which acted as my fiscal agent and all that imWelcoming Children plies, from writing checks to keeping track of the money. And to Rev. Ralph Roberts, MRE at my church and a member of my Advisory Committee, heartfelt thanks for being a friend and a colleague who is always willing to listen, brainstorm, and try new ideas.

His total commitment to children with special needs continues to be awe inspiring. To the other members of the Advisory Committee— Pat Ellenwood, DRE at the UU Society of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts; Claire Rosenbaum, member of the First Unitarian Church in Providence, Rhode Island, Family Support Coordinator for the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College, and mother of a young adult with developmental disabilities; and Helen Bishop, a member of the First UU Church of San Diego, California, and Director of The Mountain Learning Center for Leadership in North Carolina—thank you for sticking with me for the two-plus years it took to finish this book, for your willingness to read lots of information, and for your always helpful and much appreciated advice and suggestions about resources. The book was greatly strengthened by your review and input. Thank you, thank you.

Many friends cheered me on the way, gave me ideas when I got stuck, and always believed that I would finish. My dearest and oldest friend, Rev. Jeanette Stokes, provided constant love and support and recognized my abilities before I did. Pam Budner listened endlessly with patience to all my ideas. Carolyn Jensen stoked my spiritual fire and provided spiritual insight when I was mired in confusion.

Finally, but most importantly, I thank my family for their love and patience. I thank my husband Rick for giving me space when I needed it and for offering his steadfast, unswerving love and faith that I could actually write this book. My lovely, intelligent, and compassionate daughter Sarah is inspiring as a model for unconditional love and total acceptance of all children. My son Tyler is who he is— kind, sensitive, and quirky. Just by being, he was a catalyst for a major life change. If asked, he is slightly puzzled by all of this but very pleased. So thank you, Tyler, for teaching me what it means to be different, unique, and special. Thank you for leading me on this incredible journey of spiritual discovery and healing. I am truly blessed.

Endnotes Accepting All Children into Our Faith Communities

1. Thomas Armstrong, The Radiant Child (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical, 1985), p. 151.

2. Boston Globe, May 9, 2002.

3. Jack Pearpoint and Judith Snow, From Behind the Piano: The Building of Judith Snow’s Unique Circle of Friends and What’s Really Worth Doing and How to Do It: A Book for People Who Love Someone Labeled Disabled (Possibly Yourself) (Toronto, Canada: Inclusion Press, 1998), p. 3.

4. Barbara Kimes Myers and William R. Myers, Engaging in Transcendence, The Church’s Ministry and Covenant with Young Children (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1992), p. 9.

5. National Organization on Disability, That All May Worship: An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities (Washington, DC: NOD, 1997), pp.


6. National Organization on Disability, p. 16.

7. Brett Webb-Mitchell, God Plays Piano Too, The Spiritual Lives of Disabled Children (New York: Crossroad/Herder & Herder, 1994), p. 16.

Ministering to Families

1. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying (New York: Touchstone, 1997).

2. Emily Pearl Kingsley, “Welcome to Holland,” www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ridge/9672/holland.html.

3. Nancy S. Boyles and Darlene Contadino, The Learning Differences Sourcebook (Chicago: Lowell House, 1998), pp. 52–55.

4. Stanley D. Klein and Maxwell J. Schleifer, It Isn’t Fair! Siblings of Children with Disabilities (New York: Kensington Books, 2001), p. 34.

227228 Welcoming Children

5. Barbara Gill, Changed by a Child: Companion Notes for Parents of a Child with Disability (New York: Doubleday/Main Street Books, 1997), p. 41.

6. Barry Neil Kaufman, Power Dialogues, The Ultimate System for Personal Change (Sheffield, MA: Epic Century, 2000), pp. 71–72.

7. Calvin O. Dame, “Introduction,” in Small Group Ministry Resource Book (Augusta, ME: Unitarian Universalist Community Church, 2001).

8. Jack Pearpoint and Judith Snow, From Behind the Piano: The Building of Judith Snow’s Unique Circle of Friends and What’s Really Worth Doing and How to Do It for People Who Love Someone Labeled Disabled (Possibly Yourself) (Toronto, Canada: Inclusion Press, 1998), p. 210.

9. Pearpoint and Snow, pp. 181–203.

Religious Education That Welcomes All Children

1. Elisa Davy Pearmain, Doorways to the Soul (Plymouth, MI: Pilgrim Press, 1998).

2. Herbert Lovett, Learning to Listen: Positive Approaches and People with Difficult Behavior (Baltimore, MD: Paul Brooks, 1996), p. 25.

3. John Dacey and Lisa Fiore, Your Anxious Child (San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2000).

4. Robert Brooks, The Self Esteem Teacher: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child (Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service, 1991), and Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, Raising Resilient Children (Chicago: Contemporary, 2001).

5. Lovett.

6. Brooks, p. 116.

7. Richard D. Lavoie, When the Chips Are Down, Learning Disabilities and Discipline, Learning Disabilities Project, Program Guide and Video (Washington, DC: WETA, 1996).

8. Lavoie, p. 8.

9. Lavoie, p. 8.

10. Lavoie, p. 8.

11. Mel Levine, A Mind at a Time (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 23.

12. Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (New York: Basic, 1983).

13. Adapted from “Project SUMIT,” www.pz.harvard.edu/SUMIT.

14.Thomas Armstrong, Seven Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences (New York: Plume, 1999).

15. Jerome W. Berryman, Godly Play: An Imaginative Approach to Religious Education (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1995), p. 60.

16. Jerome W. Berryman, Teaching Godly Play: The Sunday Morning Handbook (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995), p. 18.

229 Endnotes

17. Barbara Kimes Myers and William R. Myers, Engaging in Transcendence, The Church’s Ministry and Covenant with Young Children (Plymouth, MI: Pilgrim Press, 1998), p. 9.

18. Brooks and Goldstein.

Learning Disabilities

1. Thomas Armstrong, In Their Own Way, Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Personal Learning Style (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1987), p. 17.

2. Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko, Our Labeled Children:

What Every Parent and Teacher Needs to Know about Learning Disabilities (New York: Perseus Group, 2000), p. 93.

3. LDOnline, www.ldonline.org.

4. SchwabLearning, www.schwablearning.org.

5. Priscilla L. Vail, About Dyslexia (Cambridge, MA: Modern Learning Press, 1990), p. 3.

6. Thomas G. West, In The Mind’s Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images and the Ironies of Creativiy (New York: Prometheus, 1997).

7. Ronald D. Davis, The Gift of Dyslexia (New York: Perigee, 1997), pp. 4–5.

8. Larry Silver, LDA Newsbriefs, January/Febuary 2001, p. 2.

9. Mel Levine, A Mind at a Time (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), pp. 327–328.

10. Quoted in Silver, p. 3.

11. Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (New York: Basic, 1993).

12. Harold N. Levinson, The Upside Down Kids: Helping Dyslexic Children Understand Themselves and Their Disorder (New York: M. Evans), p. xvi.

Attention-Deficit Disorder

1. Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey, Answers to Distraction (Dunlap, NY: Bantam, 1996).

2. Nancy S. Boyles and Darlene Contadino, The Learning Differences Sourcebook (Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1998), p. 198.

3. Boyles and Contadino, p. 201.

4. Boyles and Contadino, p. 201.

5. Hallowell and Ratey.

6. Hartmann.

7. Jeffrey Freed, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World (New York:

Simon & Schuster, 1998).

8. Thomas Armstrong, The Myth of the ADD Child: 50 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, labels, or Coercion (New York: Plume, 1997), p. xxi.

230 Welcoming Children

9. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, www.chadd.org.

10. Thom Hartmann, Beyond ADD, Hunting for Reasons in the Past and Present (Grass Valley, CA: Underwood Books, 1996), p. xv.

11. Thom Hartmann, The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child (South Paris, ME: Park Street Press, 2003).

12. Armstrong.

The Autism Spectrum

1. Lorna Wing, quoted in Charles A. Hart, A Parent’s Guide to Autism (New York: Pocket Books, 1993), p. 29

2. Tony Attwood, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley, 1998), pp. 15–16.

3. Wing in Hart, p. 7

4. Attwood, p. 16.

5. Sue Thompson, www.NLDontheWeb.org.

6. Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

7. Donna Williams, Somebody Somewhere, Breaking Free from the World of Autism (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley, 1995).

8. Liane Holliday Willey, Pretending to Be Normal, Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley, 1999).

9. Grandin, p. 60.

10. Williams, p. 238.

11. Willey, p. 121.

12. Barry Neil Kaufman, Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues (New York:

Harper & Row, 1976).

13. Catherine Maurice, Let Me Hear Your Voice: A Family’s Triumph Over Autism (London, England: Robert Hale, 1994).

14. Bernard Rimland, www.autism.com/ari.

15. Williams.

16. Karyn Serousi, Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery (New York:

Broadway, 2002).

17. Anabel Stehli, A Sound of a Miracle: A Child’s Triumph over Autism (Westport, CT: Georgiana Organization, 1995).

18. Kathleen Dillon, Living with Autism: The Parents’ Stories (Boone, NC:

Parkway, 1995).

19. Anabel Stehli, Dancing in the Rain: Stories of Exceptional Progress by Parents of Children with Special Needs (Westport, CT: Georgiana Organization, 1995).

231 Endnotes Mental Retardation and Developmental Delays

1. American Association on Mental Retardation, www.aamr.org.

2. Romaine Smith, Children with Mental Retardation, A Parent’s Guide (Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House, 1993), p. 3.

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