On Monday, I received this in my e-mail:

Mom says teacher let classmates vote autistic son out of class

By Colleen Wixon
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

May 25 2008, 2:31 PM EDT

PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son’s kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.
You may want to view the entire article from the Sun Sentinel .

Even worse,  Ekklesia Weblog recorded on May 30, 2008 that a child with autism was banned from attending The Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph in Bertha, Minnosota, because of his behaviors.  

The reason I was interested in these articles was because of a lack of sensitivity that appears to exist among a few school teachers–and worse in the church–in regard to those with disabilities.  I know of one school in another state that each Friday voted someone to be Retard of the Week.  The contest was promoted and conducted by the Friday lunchroom teacher who monitored the students on that day.  While this school was a private institution and there were no mentally challenged students enrolled, this was a way of humiliating and punishing one student each week.   

Another teacher realized what was happening and quickly jumped into the situation attempting to put a stop to the practice.  She also began a rigorous effort to educate the students and teachers regarding who persons with developmental disabilities are.  She called us and asked for our help.  Of course, we were happy to have one of our choirs come and sing.  During an emotional chapel service, our choir sang and then shared openly the sorrow that has followed them during their lives because of their disability.

Some folks are disabled because of their own hurtful actions.  They got drunk on graduation night and ended up in a car accident.  They killed brain cells with alcohol.  They are addicted to drugs.  They eat themselves into a life of diabetes.  Smoking leads to lung cancer and heart disease.  Perhaps inappropriate sexual behaviors or other life choices are followed by a life of disabilities.

But the people who are served in The Special Gathering did nothing to merit their disability.  They are truly victims.  Most babies born with intellectual inabilities suffer from an unfortunate gene pool arrangement.  Crack babies and children born with alcohol fetal syndrome are the victims of their mother’s harmful actions, not their own lapse of good judgement.  There are no medical solutions which explain why small children begin to display the symptoms of autism. 

Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We minister to people who are developmentally disabled.  We do classic ministry, evangelism and discipleship.  We want our times together to be a safe haven from the harsh realities that these victim people struggle with each day of their lives.  While society endeavors to be politically correct about almost every disability, it’s become okay to throw around the word, retard. 

We purposely talk about our disabilities and the discriminations that are apparent.  In this open communication we desire to provide a place of healing from the sting of societal’s indifference. 

Have you found that speaking openly helps your members?  What are some of the other things that you do which seem to help heal the wounds of discrimination?