“4 Ways to Serve Families with Disabilities,” Ensign, June 2018
Approximately 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.1 For caretakers of those with disabilities, something as simple as getting to sacrament meeting can be a monumentally difficult task. Often, fellow ward members want to help but are at a loss as to what they can do.
These four suggestions from the Church’s Disability Services can also help:
Take time to truly understand their needs. Gently but candidly ask questions about the disabled individual and their particular situation. Familiarize yourself with the physical, emotional, or mental implications of that person’s diagnosis. Simply getting to know the ward member and his or her struggles on a personal level is a great place to start and will give you ideas on how to help the individual and the caregivers.
Treat those with disabilities as you would anyone else. Address them by name and include them in conversations. Remember that they are children of God. Focus on what those with disabilities can do.
Offer specific help. Replace “let me know if there is anything I can do” with specific, personalized help. Think along the lines of, “Can I babysit for you this Thursday night while you go to the temple?”
Start small and be creative. If a family has a child in a wheelchair, you can save them the row with wheelchair access each sacrament meeting. Or if a class member doesn’t like to read out loud, ask them for help passing out handouts instead.
As you seek to know how to serve families and caretakers of those with disabilities, the Spirit will be your guide.