Special Needs in Ministry

Article October 1, 2020

“Special needs have been defined by what a child cannot do without help that a typical peer can do.”

It may be delays in reaching expected educational, physical, or emotional milestones, or in doing activities. The range can 
be from mild learning disabilities to severe mental handicaps, to physical disabilities, terminal illness, and/or food allergies, to name a few.

There are already such diverse abilities among preschoolers as a group. They all need lots 
of practice and repetition. Although specific disabilities may be starting to show up during this age, there usually is not a striking difference unless it is a behavioral issue. Get to know each of your preschoolers as an individual. Who are they and what do they like to do? Encourage the child to move from “No, I can’t” to “I will do my best.”

Let’s become familiar with the basics of working with our specially-designed preschoolers. According to the Center for Disease Control, 
one in six children will be born with a disability of some kind. By arming yourself with information you can better minister to them and their families.

Getting to know the individual child will help you identify the area involved in their delays 
or weaknesses. Take this insight and institute things to strengthen their areas of weakness. Accommodate for these areas or modify activities to allow for greater success. As a leader, help the child to be as independent as possible. Let them try to accomplish whatever task they have been given on their own first. Step in to help before they get frustrated

Challenges come with the territory of welcoming specially-designed preschoolers, but keep in mind that any time a child is involved, challenges come along! Examine your attitude — can you see challenges as opportunities for growth and even joy? One of the biggest overall challenges will be that each preschooler truly is unique. An identical diagnosis does not equate to identical needs or goals. Get to know each child as a unique creation of God. Typically their weaknesses are paralleled by amazing strengths — find them! Come up with a way to turn a challenge into a triumph. Accommodate and match their abilities to the task at hand, implementing strategies for success. Then stand back and watch God do His amazing work!