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Readers Respond: How Do You Get Your Child Through Worship Services?

Responses: 25


Making it through a worship service with a child with special needs can be a true test of faith. But many parents develop strategies for making it through, from ducking out early to doling out rewards to hanging out in "cry rooms." Have you found a strategy for getting your child through a worship service? Give your fellow parents a prayer of success by sharing those tips and tricks. Share Your Strategies


Every Sunday we have our son pick out a small stack of books to bring to the worship service. He carries them in a small backpack that is just for this use. I also keep a pack of tissues in there and included snacks when he was younger. We either sit outside of the sanctuary with the other noisy families or inside if our son is doing well with self control that day.
—Guest Laura Kelleher

Church service servival

I always sit in the front row or second row right in front of the pulpit. I don't want all the other people to be a distraction. I also have a favorite blanket, quiet toy, and paper and crayons. When we sit in any other seat, she has a hard time being quiet. Sitting in front of the Pastor works also because she adores him and wants him to be happy with her behavior.
—Guest Kimberlie Morris

Mission Field: Special Needs Fams

Alec (who has autism) attends his Sunday School class at the first service, but then sits with us at the second service. I bring my iPad and allow Alec it use the drawing/painting programs... but ONLY those. The rule is, he has to draw scenes from his Sunday school lesson, or the Bible story that our pastor is mentioning. So far, it has worked very well for us!
—Guest Kelly Langston


Our Church has children's bulletins and pencils that the ushers pass out to the children as they enter. During most services, my son only needs to get through about 20 minutes before the children are whisked away by their Sunday School Teachers. He usually does fine, and we are not very particular about whether the pew is a chair or a table. Baptisms and other special events are done before the children leave, the idea being that they see these events. I understand this, but my son cannot stay in a small, confined space that long. We usually "sit" outside the doors of the sanctuary and listen. He jumps and dances around, sometimes we walk around the church and explore a new room. We talk about the event going on, what it means, and how happy everyone is. If it is a baptism, we talk about when he and his sister were baptized. I try to keep things on the subject of Church, even if he is unable to handle being in the sanctuary. Only a few sour looks thus far.

Blessed with Special Needs Classroom

My family is so blessed. We just changed from a small church to a gigantic community church only 10 minutes from our home. It has a Children's Wing and a Special Needs Classroom WITH a special needs drop-off area and a separate entrance to the Special Needs-Only Classroom. Our preacher/pastor has a grandson with special needs. I know he was instrumental in making sure that our kids are well taken care of. It's so wonderful to drop off our daughter and fully enjoy the service. My hope is that more churches will look to this model and be inspired to help those of us who face special challenges. I don't have any suggestions on getting through the worship service. I do suggest that parents communicate the need for special classes for the kids so that the parents can enjoy a service. It's a blessing to all who serve.
—Guest Angela

Special Needs Masses at Church

We stopped going to church for awhile. We live on Long Island and eventually found special needs masses held once a month at 6 or more churches. Both my sons are special needs children (12 and 17). Everyone is understanding because they are dealing with the same issues.
—Guest JM


Our church is really understanding and have seats in the back of the church set out. It's almost as if "EVERYONE KNOWS" not to sit there because its for Lucas! They used to keep the doors open but Lucas is even too hyper for the childrens quiet room. LOL They have speakers in the hall so that we can hear everything that is going on and we, as parents, feel better knowing we aren't ruining church for everyone else because of his issues. I almost wish that they had a special program during mass services that would watch our special needs children while we attending mass. This might be the biggest hurdle that we have to jump every single week. I stress over it starting on Sunday, until we get there on Saturday night! http://lucasjourneyspd.blogspot.com/

Getting Through Worship Services

When he was small, we took pictures of certain parts of the service so he could "follow along" as we went and made him responsible for giving us the song books, and the hymn numbers. We realized that he was singing along to the ones he memorized, so we gave him the number of songs between each picture/part of the service, and he became much more calm. We kept a bag of emergency toys/books that would keep him quiet if he got too restless. And there has always been a special reward of being able to choose the dinner dessert if he was able to behave for "most" of the service without having to go to the quiet room. We also have a series of hand signals that have evolved over the years to help him redirect his attention or remember to quiet his tapping or singing to himself. The best guidelines is to be flexible; you may have to get a sitter or go at different times than your partner until they can handle it. Ignore the "looks"...they don't get it anyway....celebrate the small stuff!
—Guest Momonamission

The Inclusive Church Blog

Readers might be interested in the new blog launched to help churches successfully accommodate children with special needs: http://theinclusivechurch.wordpress.com/ This blog is meant to provide helpful guidance to church children's pastors and others who work with children in church settings.

Make room for families with disabilities

Friends, I whole-heartedly agree that love of all individuals should START with the church, not be forced up on the church! That being said, there are ways for congregations large & small to create ways to make church attendance more attainable for these families (of which we are one). Having a "shadow" program, special needs Sunday school, inclusive seating, occasional respite nights are all ways for congregations to grow. SNAPPIN' MINISTRIES has a turn-key program to help you get people in your camp & start these types of services. Visit http://www.snappin.org/ for more information!
—Guest Barb Dittrich

long time church attendance

Everyone should always be welcome in church but when anyone has learning problems, like my 10 year old daughter it can be hard but I love her so much and so do others who are slowly getting to know her. I take a bag of things that help her, like stickers, colouring books and craft related things and snacks. She manages really will sat with me on a small pew as a family, but on occassion she may need to let of steam just outside and knows when she needs this and just goes outside for a while and I reassure her that it is ok and in a while we return. It has worked well and she enjoys being at church too.
—Guest marion

worshing with special needs

we have a son that talks all the time, we have looked and looked for a church that is sp. needs friendly and does't matter that he talks out,we have mdae a fidget belt, you can use whatever, something to chew on, keys to play with, you can go to any store that makes keys and ask for the throw aways, put this around their waist and it keeps them busey!! God bless ruth
—Guest ruth

Send them because they belong

My husband is a pastor of a small church, we have a son that have nonverbial disabilty. I remember when he was young and could not sit still and he was loud and he would sing and say thing repeating it. I thought the idea was to take him out. I started take him home. One Day, The Lord spoke to me . He said that Son had the right to be there. That he was his child. I relize that was wrong. He does have a right. They are God Children. I also learn that if you continue to work with them . They will end up witnessing to you. They are his children special and they have a right. Remeber that christ will help you see.
—Guest A pastor wife response

Go with the flow

Hi Everyone, Getting your child through worship services can be quite challenging, to say the least! I think that all of the suggestions have been good. It's a matter of finding out which works best for your child and your family, keeping in mind that what worked for one week, may need a different strategy for the next! I think it's always trial and error for these situations and you have to just go with the flow for that particular day. Once other members of the parish get to know your child, they may lend a helping hand.
—Guest Lisa

Worship services-Jewish

Our synagogue has a special needs service called "Koleinu" (Our Voices in Hebrew) that meets every other Saturday morning and is highly interactive and geared for children on the spectrum/other special needs. This gives the families a chance to connect with each other as well as with our tradition and prayer.
—Guest Michelle Wolf

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How Do You Get Your Child Through Worship Services?

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