July 2009

Several days ago, I taught a class teaching about disabilities.  It was a class for children.  There were three sessions.  The children were helped by adult teachers and several teenagers.  The teenagers were especially wonderful and helpful, except in the last class. 

One teenage helper stood in the back of class and worked feveriously at distracting himself and his friend.  He fiddled and wiggled.  He took out stick pins from a cork board and rearranged them.  His hands didn’t seem to stop.  He wasn’t talking but did not slow down the figiting for one minute.  I almost stopped to ask him to be still but decided to continue without saying anything.

At the end of the class, as I was walking out the room, this same teenager quietly slipped beside me, “I have turret’s,” he said, in a whisper.  “It really sucks.”

I stopped and turned to him.  “I’m so sorry.”  Knowing the struggle a person with turret’s syndrome has in controlling his ticks and urges, I whispered back, “I can’t believe how well you control it.  Good job!”

Often, disabilities remain covered.  Yet, there will always be tell-tale signs, if we are observant with hearts open to pain.  Is a person misbehaving or behaving in reaction to a deep hurt or in response to a disability.  Yes, most of the time, persons with disabilities are able to control themselves.  However, there may be times that fidgeting replaces jerks and ticks.  Wiggles are much more acceptable than grunts and groans. 

Has there been a time in your life that you were inappropriate in a stressful situation?  Did that experience help you to understand people who are mentally challenged?

Today, I’m in Virginia helping my grandchildren improve their swimming skills.  I’m not a swim teacher but since we put in our pool years ago, I’ve helped many people to become better swimmers. 

It seems that much of what I do in life is to help others find ways to improve in a skill they have learned.  I don’t seem to be a good initiator but a person who knows how to fine tune some effort that has begun.

There are some things that help in becoming a fine tuner.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

  1. Don’t assume that everyone wants your advice, help or teaching abilities.
  2. Don’t give advice unless it is REALLY needed. 
  3. Give the person the benefit of the doubt and don’t give help unless you are asked.
  4. Be sure to study the person’s present skill level before you seek to help him or her.
  5. Ask questions before you give advice.  Be sure that you understand, from the person, the level of help he or she is seeking.
  6. Be honest…
  7.  …but never brutal.  There is a difference.  “A spoonful of sugar” still “helps the medicine go down.”
  8. Encouragement is always better than correction. 
  9. Rather than pointing out things that are wrong, point to ways to improve.
  10. If you must point out the things that are wrong, be gentle.

Remember in dealing with persons who are mentally challenged, I would put each suggestion in bold print and place an explanation point at the end of each sentence.  People who come to a ministry within the developmental disability community have often given up on themselves.  They are longingly  looking to others for help.  Your encouraging voice may be the only one they will hear that week. 

Remember things can always be made better.  Improvements can always be made.  Encouragement is always needed.

At choir we had a visitor.  She has loosely followed the progress of the choir for as long as it has been around.  After the practice, she said, “I cannot believe how very much you have improved.  You sound like different people from when you first began singing together.”  The choir beamed and so did I.

It is a difficult process for persons with disabilities to make progress, especially in something like singing.  I’ve found that basically singing is a foreign skill to most people who are mentally challenged.  This fact is a mystery to me because I love to sing.  I can’t even imagine life without a song.

More times than not, when new members comes into the choir, I not only have to teach them the words and the melody but how to sing also. Often I catch them at an off moment when I hear their REAL voices.  It may be outstanding.  That is the voice that I aim to uncover.  Yes, it will probably take years to uncover that voice but it is always worth the effort. 

Last Christmas, I found a song that was a perfect fit for two of our ladies who are contraltos.  Several people came up to inquire who had sung the wonderful duet.  One man said, “That was the most wonderful duet, I’ve ever heard.”  He was stunned when I told him that one of the ladies was his daughter.  “She can’t sing!” he exclaimed. 

“I think she can,” I said, smiling.

When it comes to teaching mentally challenged persons, it is good to mark small improvements in your mind and heart.  After all, it is the small steps that lead us to the big things in our lives.

What are some of the small things that have helped you know that your work is making a difference in the lives of your members?  What are the steps you are taking to build a choir or a class?

I conducted a disability workshop today for about 100 children attend Bible school at First United Methodist Church in Melbourne.  Stealing from our founder, Richard Stimson, I wanted to help the children to understand what it was like to be disabled in a way that they could touch and feel. 

I began with the scripture in Exodus 4:11 in which the Lord speaks to Moses and says, “Who made a person’s mouth? And who makes someone deaf or not able to speak? Or who gives a person sight or blindness?  It is I, the Lord.” 

After a brief introduction in which I explained that persons with disabilities know they are different and know that they have a disability.  We started by blindfolding a child and asking him to navigate around the room.  Then we gave him a guide who helped.  Because the children were making a craft for puppies who will be trained to be guide dogs, I explained a bit about what a guide dog does.   

After that, I put sound surpressing ear phones on one of the children and asked another person from across the room to speak in a low voice giving his or her name and address.  We then talked briefly about lip reading and sign language.

Another child had her arm tied down. I asked her to lift several items that would be easy to carry with two hands but difficult with one hard.  The next child had her leg tied up.  She could hop but found that her balance was the hardest thing to keep.

Then every child was given some crackers to eat.  I told them to put all the crackers in their mouths at once; chew them; then try to speak.  We talked about the difficulty it was to speak this way.  As they were eating their checker, I explained that many people with disabilities are born with mouths that have deformities and they have difficulty speaking.

After each class, hands shot up all over the class, students wanting to share about their sister, brother or cousin with a disability.  Each one of the students seemed touched by the personal experience of sharing with persons with disabilities in a tangible way. 

It was a good day!

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial where the important people of a fictitious company are trying to find answers for their faltering bottom line.  One exec says, “I’d think we should try blame storming.  I would like to blame Eileen.”  It’s a great back-handed commercial.  However, blame storming isn’t humorous in real life.

I’ve spent more time than I care to recollect either “blame storming” or listening to others who are “blame storming.”  You know how it goes, you are having lunch and someone brings up someone and then the nit-picking begins.  You end up pulling apart everything and everyone remotely attached to a situation or congregation.

Several weeks ago, I spent a good deal of time with a member who enjoys “blame storming” other SpG members.  He is higher functioning than most of his peers.  Therefore, he is able to find problems and concerns that others may overlook.  Finally, after several hours, I asked, as gently as I could, “Why are you putting down other members?”

He looked at me shocked, as though he couldn’t believe that I felt that his behavior was inappropriate.   Then I realized that he was perhaps mimicking behavior that he had seen from “normal” adults, perhaps even me. 

For the rest of the afternoon, he stopped the blame storming and the rest of us enjoyed our trip home.  However, I couldn’t help but think about his look of shock when I attempted to correct him.  It was as though this type of conversation was “supposed to be.” 

What are your members learning from your behaviors? Are you able to stand for righteousness and justice?  Could blame storming be a part of their interaction with others who are supposed to provide examples of godly behavior?

The Church believes in Jesus

Acts 16:29-32


Central Theme:  The church believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.


       1.     Saturn car dealerships sell all kinds of things that show we are owners of the Saturn.  Show some things.

       2.     What identifies you as a Christian.

       3.     Have a member read Acts 16:29-32.

       I.     You are part of the Saturn family by the car you drive.  But you are part of the Christian family because of what?

              A. Is it the way you live?

                   1.  That is important

                   2.  As a Chrsitian you should be good, kind, generous, honest.

                   3.  But that is not what makes you a Christian.

               B. Is it because you go to church?

                   1.  Important but NO.

              C. Taking Communion?  No

              D. Being baptized?  No

      II.     We become Christians inside of us.  In our hearts.

              A. Reread 30 and 31..

              B. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

              C. Our hearts must say, “Jesus is my Lord.:

              D. He must be our best friend and our boss.

     III.     Then you are a true believer.  We become different people.

Conclusion–Saturn may be a wonderful car.  It is only a car.  Becoming a Christian is a deep change in who I am.

Proposed Rules for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services

 The  Center  for  Medicare  &  Medicaid has released   a   notice  of  proposed  rulemaking  for Medicaid  home  and  community-based services (HCBS) waivers.  Some of the proposed changes include:      
·  Giving  states the option to combine or eliminate existing permitted waiver target populations  (the  aged  or disabled, or both; the mentally retarded or developmentally   disabled,   or   both;  and  the
mentally ill).  States must develop separate  Section  1915(c)  waivers  to serve more than one of the three populations.   The intent of the change is to give states additional flexibility, allowing  them  to  use  person-centered  delivery systems driven by need, rather than  by  diagnosis  or existing dedicated funding streams. Allowing states the option to combine targeted groups within a single waiver would remove a barrier for  states  that  wish  to  design waivers across various populations.                                
            ·   CMS  is  particularly  interested  in  receiving comments on how removal of the existing  regulatory   barrier  regarding target groups can increase a state’s ability to  design  service packages based on need, rather than diagnosis or condition.                        
            ·  CMS  also  plans  to propose adding a requirement that individuals receiving home and community-based services must either reside in homes or apartments not “owned,  leased,  or  controlled” by providers of any health-related treatment or support  services,  or  must  reside  in  homes or apartments “owned, leased, or controlled”   by   providers   of   one  or  more health-related treatment or support services  that  meet  the  state’s  standards  for community living.                                    
To be assured  consideration,  comments  must  be received no later than 5 p.m. on August 21, 2009.    
                       DEPARTMENT    OF    HEALTH    AND   HUMAN   SERVICES
                       Centers    for    Medicare   &   Medicaid   Services
                       42 CFR  Part   441 [CMS-2296-ANPRM]                                    
                       RIN     0938-AP61
                       Medicaid  Program; Home and Community-Based Services
                       (HCBS)  Waivers
                       AGENCY:  Centers  for  Medicare  & Medicaid Services
                       (CMS), HHS.
                       ACTION:   Advance  notice  of  proposed action

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