Becoming a Disability Champion: The Additional Needs Adventure Continues!

Church show a brick built church. It has wooden doors. Above the doors is a circle with the words "St Saviour's Sunbury" on it. In front of the building, on the left hand side is a tree.

If you’ve read my blog post ‘Additional Needs Ministry – My Journey So Far’, you’ll know that God started me off on a change of course over ten years ago which lead me to be an Inclusion Champion at our previous church. Since moving churches, I’ve kept the conversation about disability inclusion going and the adventure has continued…

At the beginning of March, I was approached by the vicar of our church and asked whether I would consider becoming the Disability Champion for our church. After spending some time praying about it (and also asking friends to pray), I accepted the role. Now, you might be sitting reading this and reacting a bit like Harry Potter when Hagrid tells him that he’s a wizard – “I’m a what?”. Well, hopefully by the end of this blog, you’ll know more about what a church Disability Champion does.

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A Book That Every Children’s, Youth and Families Worker Needs To Read!

On 16th February, I was privileged to be involved in the book launch of ‘How to Include Autistic Children and Young People in Church’. This book was written by my good friend Mark Arnold. I and my Son had previously written a blog post for Mark about transitioning from the church youth group to ‘Adult’ church. This blog post was included in the book, hence the invite to the book launch! Mark is the Additional Needs Ministry Director at Urban Saints, Co-Founder of the Additional Needs Alliance and Founder of The Dad’s Fire Circle. He is also Dad to a wonderful young man who has additional needs. This blog takes a brief look at the book.

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Dental Visit…Well, That Was Painless!

Picture shows a young man sitting in a dentist chair. He is wearing jeans, a t shirt and dark glasses. He has a paper towel placed on his lap

I think there probably aren’t many people who really enjoy going to see the dentist, but when you have autism it can make it even more stressful due to the many sensory experiences attached to the visit. These can include the noise of the equipment, hands and equipment touching you, bright lights and unexpected movement of the dental chair. This post is about a time when our son had a particularly positive visit to the dentist.

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Left Behind – Children With Additional Needs As We Emerge From The COVID-19 Pandemic

As we start enjoying more freedoms as pandemic restrictions ease, this isn’t going to be true for many disabled children and their families. My good friend Mark shares the findings from a recent report and the action we can take to help these families

The Additional Needs Blogfather

As part of its ongoing research partnership with Pears Foundation, the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) of which I’m a member, surveyed roughly 300 parents in June 2021 in our final survey as part of the series. I had the privilege of being one of those parents. The findings, released today, reveal that whilst the rest of the population has been able to enjoy additional freedoms as pandemic restrictions have eased, disabled children and their families are struggling to heal the pandemic and remain cut off from the rest of society. This blog post shares the report finding and action required to make a difference.

The findings:
· Three quarters (71%) of disabled children have seen their progress managing their conditions reverse or regress due to the pandemic.
· Disabled children, their parents and their siblings remain more isolated than the rest of the population, with 9 in 10 disabled children…

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Additional Needs Ministry – My Journey So Far

Have you ever felt led to change what you’re doing as a job, your role in church or something in your family life? These decisions aren’t always easy to make, especially if it’s something that you’ve done for many years. I believe, as a Christian, that if God has asked you to do it, he will be with you on the journey. About ten years ago God started me off on a change of course which would ultimately lead me to being an Inclusion Champion at the church we were at at the time. Here’s the story of those last ten years….

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Could It Be A Meltdown?

As a Mum to someone on the autistic spectrum, I have witnessed several meltdowns over the years. To onlookers these often look like temper tantrums. However, anyone who has either experienced a meltdown or supported someone through one, will know that they have nothing to do with having a temper tantrum. With both a meltdown and a temper tantrum there may be crying, shouting, screaming, kicking, biting, hitting, etc. So what is the difference between them? Let’s look at just five areas where they differ.

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Accessible Church – More Than Just Ramps!

Anyone who has spoken to me for more than a few minutes will tell you that I’m pretty passionate about churches being accessible to disabled people and those with additional needs. But why do they need to be? Surely if they turn up each week, that’s enough, isn’t it? Personally, I don’t think it is. They may be turning up, but do they struggle to access the building and, once they’ve finally made it into the building are they able to access what is going on & understand it? Are they able to do more than just hand out the Bibles or make the drinks after the service? Are they talked to as friends or is it more of a case of being ignored? It’s estimated that 90% of disabled people don’t attend church and, to be fair, if I didn’t feel like I was being welcomed, I wouldn’t want to show up either.

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Aspergers – Just A Little Bit Autistic?

I was watching BBC Breakfast last week and they showed a report on difficulties getting employment at the moment due to the pandemic. They interviewed one lad who they described as having “ADHD and mild autism”. I have to admit that that description annoyed me…..a lot! Why? Well, you’re either autistic or you’re not! There’s not a mild version of autism, but each autistic person will have a variety of things that they struggle with. I assume that the lad probably has Aspergers, like my son. By saying that he had ‘mild autism’ it says that he doesn’t really have any struggles fitting into a neurotypical (non autistic) world, which I’m sure isn’t the case and that, like Kieran, he’s learnt strategies to cope.

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