13 Tips for Ministering to Kids with Disabilities

Our Special Needs Ministry coordinator shared these tips with me a few weeks ago.

  1. Maintain eye contact and speak with your normal tone of voice.
  2. Talk directly to the person with a disability, not through their caregiver.
  3. Ask if assistance is needed; don't assume it is.
  4. Avoid words or tone of voice that imply a patronizing or pitying attitude.
  5. If you do not understand what a person with a disability is saying, say so.  If necessary, ask the person to repeat or use an alternative phrase.
  6. When talking with a person who has a mental disability, speak simply, not loudly.  Simple language is not childish language.
  7. Don't assume a person with a disability has other disabilities.
  8. When meeting a person with vision loss, identify yourself and any others who are present.
  9. Don't lean on a wheelchair, it is part of the person who is using it.
  10. Always speak to a person using a wheelchair facing them, not from their side or behind them.
  11. Don't pet or draw attention to a person's service animal, they are the person's life-line.
  12. Feel free to use common idioms like "see" or "walk" or "hear."
  13. Facial and hand expressions are key to communicating with a deaf person.
What to Say and Not to Say:
Child with a disability instead of disabled child
Child with autism instead of autistic child
Child with intellectual disability instead of mentally retarted
Uses a wheelchair instead of confined to a wheelchair