Seriously, I'd like to know your answer.
On Wednesday, I'll be speaking to a group of folks at a family ministry conference. One session is about the basics of special needs ministry (including starting and sustaining one), and the other session is about successful outreach events that serve the entire family, primarily focusing on respite care.
(Quick Webster moment: Respite care is kind of like a parent's night out or a mother's morning out event. I know most Christians can name a church in their area that offers one of those programs. However, this kind of event is designed to offer time away for caregivers of those with disabilities, usually - though not always - children.)
I know about articles like this one that liken the stress of a mothers with autism to combat soldiers. I know about studies like this one that show that family-focused care can make more of a difference than medical care for the individual child. (Granted, that one is about colic not disability, but the principle still applies.) I've read stories - like this one in which a mom describes stress so extreme that she "broke" and once hit her son (who has autism) a couple years ago - of heartache and exhaustion and feelings of hopelessness and depression and anger and more.
(You should read that last one. Really, you should.)
I love the list here sharing five realities for special needs parents: We're tired. Our brains are constantly busy. We're lonely. We know more about our child's condition than most doctors. We're fragile. (Thanks to Amy Fenton Lee to posting it on The Inclusive Church's Facebook page)
All of those tidbits offer great insight into why we ought to meet families affected by disability where they are, which is often a place of survival, and meet practical needs. But I'd love to know what YOU think about this topic.
What would you - as a church leader, a special needs parent, someone who cares about people with disabilities and their families, a volunteer at a respite event - tell the leaders I'll be addressing next week?