Hidden Disabilities and Church:  Cause of Irregular Attendance? Stephen Grcevich, MD, Rhonda Martin, LPCC Key Ministry Fou...
Our hypothesis: <ul><li>Families in which one or more children experience HD are at least 50% less likely to regularly att...
What “barriers” to church participation exist for families with HD?
Indications of hidden disabilities: <ul><li>Difficulties with self-regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Developmentally inappropri...
How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Difficulties with self-regulation  (sitting through an adult wo...
How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Restricted pattern of interests or behavior  (lack of interest ...
How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Disproportionate fear, physiologic response to stress  (crowded...
What about the parents? (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) <ul><li>50% of kids with ADHD have persistent impairme...
Barriers for Parents <ul><li>Parents fear being judged within the Christian community </li></ul><ul><li>Parents become tir...
What can we do to help families with HD participate more regularly?
Environmental interventions: <ul><li>Designated entrance for families of children with sensory/anxiety issues </li></ul><u...
Examining transition points in your children’s, youth programs: <ul><li>Youth leaders, pastors need to be aware of sensiti...
What if the parent has issues, too? <ul><li>Could group leaders match less consistent parents with other parents for accou...
Key Ministry: How Can We Serve You? <ul><li>Key Ministry Foundation  www.keyministry.org  provides resources to churches f...
Please Stay in Touch! <ul><li>Key Ministry Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>Rebecca Hamilton, Executive Director </li></ul><ul...
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Hidden Disabilities and Church...Cause of Irregular Attendance?

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Training at Northland Church, Orlando FL, October 3, 2009

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Hidden Disabilities and Church...Cause of Irregular Attendance?

  1. 1. Hidden Disabilities and Church: Cause of Irregular Attendance? Stephen Grcevich, MD, Rhonda Martin, LPCC Key Ministry Foundation Presented at Northland Church Longwood, Florida October 3, 2009 Key Ministry Foundation, 8401 Chagrin Road, Suite 14B, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 Rebecca Hamilton, Executive Director (440) 708-4488, [email_address] Stephen Grcevich, MD, President (440) 543-3400, [email_address] Web: www.keyministry.org
  2. 2. Our hypothesis: <ul><li>Families in which one or more children experience HD are at least 50% less likely to regularly attend church compared to similar families in a given community </li></ul>
  3. 3. What “barriers” to church participation exist for families with HD?
  4. 4. Indications of hidden disabilities: <ul><li>Difficulties with self-regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Developmentally inappropriate inattention </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of ability to accurately perceive social cues </li></ul><ul><li>Abnormal responses to sensory input, stimulation </li></ul><ul><li>Restricted pattern of interests or behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Misperception of threat level in environment </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty with learning or communication in one or more modalities </li></ul><ul><li>Disproportionate fear, physiologic response to stress </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty with transition, change </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate affect </li></ul>
  5. 5. How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Difficulties with self-regulation (sitting through an adult worship service, getting to church on time, difficulty practicing spiritual disciplines, church attendance becomes a negative experience) </li></ul><ul><li>Developmentally inappropriate inattention (more difficulty participating in didactic teaching, get distracted while trying to pray, read the Bible) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of ability to accurately perceive social cues (doesn’t “fit in” with middle school or high school groups, may feel rejected by peers and view Christians as hypocrites) </li></ul><ul><li>Abnormal responses to sensory input, stimulation (volume of music at worship, brightness of lights, boldness of color, physical contact) </li></ul>
  6. 6. How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Restricted pattern of interests or behavior (lack of interest in group participation, rigid, inflexible to new experiences) </li></ul><ul><li>Misperception of threat level in environment (visiting church for first time is intimidating, avoid youth groups for fear of embarrassment, apprehensive about new experiences… mission trips, retreats, self-disclosure in small groups) </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty with learning or communication in one or more modalities (child or adult with dyslexia asked to read from the Bible, expressive language disorder) </li></ul>
  7. 7. How do HDs pose barriers to church participation?: <ul><li>Disproportionate fear, physiologic response to stress (crowded lobby or worship auditorium, separation from a parent) </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty with transition, change (the child’s buddy doesn’t show up, new children’s/youth pastor, grade school to middle school) </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate affect (the child who laughs or expresses indifference at a sad story, irritated when greeted by others) </li></ul>
  8. 8. What about the parents? (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) <ul><li>50% of kids with ADHD have persistent impairment as adults…77% of ADHD cases attributed to genetics </li></ul><ul><li>Heritability of anxiety disorders: 80% </li></ul><ul><li>They’re more likely to be divorced or never married </li></ul><ul><li>If untreated, they’re more likely to have experienced a substance use disorder </li></ul>
  9. 9. Barriers for Parents <ul><li>Parents fear being judged within the Christian community </li></ul><ul><li>Parents become tired of having to manage their child’s behavior—and explain it to others in new settings </li></ul><ul><li>Social isolation is often the norm; families affected by hidden disabilities are less likely to be invited to church </li></ul><ul><li>Stress, economic strain and fatigue common; more likely to stay home on Sunday </li></ul>
  10. 10. What can we do to help families with HD participate more regularly?
  11. 11. Environmental interventions: <ul><li>Designated entrance for families of children with sensory/anxiety issues </li></ul><ul><li>Greeters/signage…can families easily figure out where to go on your campus? </li></ul><ul><li>Transition times between services </li></ul><ul><li>Use of lighting, color </li></ul><ul><li>Availability of quieter environments </li></ul>
  12. 12. Examining transition points in your children’s, youth programs: <ul><li>Youth leaders, pastors need to be aware of sensitivities of anxious kids </li></ul><ul><li>Are kids with peers appropriate for their stage of social development? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there continuity in the “handoffs” from children’s to middle school ministry? Middle school to high school? </li></ul><ul><li>Do your established “church kids” demonstrate sensitivity to HD kids in their midst? </li></ul>
  13. 13. What if the parent has issues, too? <ul><li>Could group leaders match less consistent parents with other parents for accountability? </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail reminders…to discuss questions at home distributed in class, “we missed your child” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Key Ministry: How Can We Serve You? <ul><li>Key Ministry Foundation www.keyministry.org provides resources to churches free of charge: </li></ul><ul><li>Best Practices Resource Kit on CD-ROM </li></ul><ul><li>Web-based resources (now on Facebook) </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities to network with other churches </li></ul><ul><li>Phone consultation </li></ul><ul><li>On-site consultation, training </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrating your successes </li></ul><ul><li>Local and National conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Praying for you </li></ul>Key Ministry Foundation
  15. 15. Please Stay in Touch! <ul><li>Key Ministry Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>Rebecca Hamilton, Executive Director </li></ul><ul><li>8401 Chagrin Road, Suite 14B </li></ul><ul><li>Chagrin Falls OH 44023 </li></ul><ul><li>Phone: 440/708-4488 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.keyministry.org </li></ul>

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