insecureOne of the most important things a person can provide for any person and especially for a man or woman who is developmentally disabled is a safe harbor–a place where they can securely share their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Because of their intellectual development, many people within the mentally challenged community are also stunted in expressing their deep emotions.

There are only a few vehicles wherein this population would be expected or allowed to share their genuine thoughts.  All of us are heavily invested in teaching this population Scriptural principles.  Nonetheless, unless the precepts become practical applications in their lives, they will never learn them effectively.

Therefore, it is vital to give our members the space wherein they are allowed to share their thoughts.  How we do this is not easy.  Though the answers regarding a “how to” may seem simplistic.

  1. wrting on a boardYou must asked targeted and pointed questions.
  2. You must allow the members to share without interruption.
  3. You must allow the members time to answer.  When a question is asked, the leader of the group will often wait a few seconds and then answer the question themselves.  Waiting is hard but it reaps great dividends.
  4. You must be sure that the answer to your questions are not to complicated or a vehicle to showcase how smart the examiner is. In other words, don’t ask trick questions.
  5. You must give the members many successes with their answers.  If a person gives a totally off-the-rail answer, rephrase either your question or his/her answer until you find the answer with which he or she agrees.
  6. When asking an opinion question, be sure that every answer is given validity.  No opinion is incorrect.  An opinion is owned by the responder–not the asker.
  7. Give the answers extra validity by writing the answers down on a board of some type.
  8. It is most important that the answering party knows without a doubt that the questioner loves him or her.  It takes time and a great deal of patience to truly show that you love your members.

It takes extremely secure people to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and emotions.  We must understand that most people within the disability community are not secure.  Many of them know the full range of their deficiencies better than anyone else.  They must be given a safe harbor to insure that they are able to receive the healing that the Holy Spirit wants to give through your ministry.

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Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

The value of learning is understood worldwide.  In the Western Civilization, our emphasis has always come from the Greek understanding of learning.  That is, having knowledge for its own value.  Knowledge, facts and intellectual pursuit are paramount.  It does not matter whether the information can be actually used.

The Eastern world has only valued knowledge that can be used in our daily lives.  There is little value placed on learning without application to real life.  In one of the karate films, the young man spent weeks taking his coat off of a hook and putting it back on the hook.  He felt this was a total waste of time.  However, when his karate master approached him with a surprise attack, the young student found that he automatically knew how to defend himself because the coat-removal movements had become automatic to him.  This is knowledge that can be experienced.

TransformationIn teaching our members, we strive to impart knowledge that can be practiced in their daily life.  There are three levels of knowledge:

1.  Head knowledge

2.  Knowing that you cannot facilitate the knowledge learned.

3.  Facilitating the knowledge and putting it to practice in your life.

Especially within the disability community, we must teach realizing that our members need to be able to reach the third level of knowledge.  That is why, when teaching a Bible study class, I replay the same Bible lesson several times.

However, there must also be a practical application that is connected to the Bible passage studied.  Unless a practical way of implementing the Scriptures is emphasized, it will remain head knowledge.

In addition, if this knowledge reaches only the second level, it will add to the sense of failure that our members live with on a daily basis.  Rather than elevating them into a place of transformation, this knowledge may add another level of defeat in their lives.

Head knowledge has no value in any Christian life unless it reaches the third level of knowledge–the ability to facilitate that understanding into your life.  It is especially true with a person who is intellectually delayed.

The Word of God was never meant to give us the puffed up attitude that head knowledge germinates and propagates.  It is always meant to change our hearts and thereby, change our way of living.

This is an email I received today.  It is from

Alice Du Fault

Child & Family Consultants, Inc.

1800 Penn St., Ste#12

Melbourne, FL  32901

(321)768-6800 Telephone

(321)768-6858 Fax

www.brevardchildandfamilyconsultants.com

Registration for these classes is free but registration is required.  I suggest you call Ms. DeFault for information on how to register.

 

The Scott Center offers free monthly workshops for parents, educators and professionals who deal with the issues of autism. They are held from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Seminar Room at The Scott Center for Autism Treatment.

Feb. 22, 2012–Preparing Teens and Young Adults with ASD and/or Learning Differences for Independence: Perspectives from Students and Professionals

March 21, 2012–Learn How to Teach Life Skills to Individuals with Limited Language

April 18, 2012–What’s Hot and What’s Not in the world of benefits to protect your children and your family

–Refreshments provided

May 16, 2012–What is Applied Behavioral Analysis?

June 2012–No session

July 27, 2012–Boundaries Boot Camp for teachers, parents, and caregivers

(This is not a free event; Registration is required for this all day workshop)