Religious Education for persons with disabilities

U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Statement on People with Disabilities

There are a range of programming options to consider for each person who comes seeking religious education — check out this chart:
Continuum models for religious education

Austism resources:
(Austism Spectrum Disorders: ASD)


1. Newman, Barbara J., Autism and your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Grand Rapids, MI 2006
This is an indispensable resource - one you should own!  This is not specifically designed to assist classroom teachers but is rather a general overview of ministry to persons with ASD   $29.99+
2. Ashcroft, Wendy; Argiro, Sue; Keohane, Joyce, Success Strategies for Teaching Kids with Autism,
Prufrock Press, 2010.
This book is written for professional teachers and demonstrates a method known as “ABA.” While “ABA” is beyond the scope of parish catechists there are some practical tips that can help catechists provide a positive classroom for a child with ASD .
3.Boon, Richard T.; Spencer, Vicky G., Best Practices for the Inclusive Classroom, Prufrock Press, 2010.
This book is written for the professional school teacher and spends considerable space detailing specific subject areas that are not related to our work in religious education. However, the initial chapters are a wealth of information on a variety of disabilities with specific recommendations of teaching strategies that are scientifically designed.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Links:

1.  Autism Society of America
This is a great site for general information about ASD. There is a section for family members - so be sure parents know about this for support.
2. National Catholic Partnership on Disability
Be sure not to miss the sections on the right side of the screen “Autism Resources” and “Ministry Toolkit.” There is a wealth of information on this site (forms, etc.)
3. Autism World (Effective Strategies for teaching children with ASD)
10 teaching tips to create a positive learning environment.
4. Getting Inside the Heads of Students with Asperger Syndrome -
This is an article written by a man with Asperger describing what it is like from the “inside.”
5. Inclusion Faith Practices for Children with Autism -
A brief two page article summarizing our responsibility as a community of faith.
6. One page graphic of major symptoms of ASD
Designed as a visual aid to assist people in understanding some of the key elements of ASD.
7. Teaching Strategies
The one-page flyer referenced in #7 is expanded to show specific teaching strategies for each of the identified elements of ASD.
8. 22 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders 

9. PARENTS: Autism Service Dogs

10. PARENTS: Water Safety Guide

11. PARENTS: Autism and Addition

ADD / ADHD Resources:
(Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)


1. Iseman, Jacqueline S.; Silverman, Stephan M; Jeweler, Sue., 101 school success tools for students with ADHD, Prufrock Press, 2010.
While the text is written for use by school teachers it is full of tips that can be used in any setting. It is full of useful charts, forms and checklists.
2. Wojtaszek-Healy, Madonna, The ABC’s of A.D.D. for Catechists, Rooted In Love Press.
This is a short 13 page pamphlet but it is full of wonderful advice and quite readable by any catechist. $2.50 per copy
ADHD Links:

1. ADHD Aware
Run by and for people with ADHD, our purpose is to empower children, adults and families affected by ADHD, educate those who impact us, and enlighten all people as to the courage and competence of our singular community.
2. Attention Deficit Disorder Association
This is a diverse site involving advocacy of all kinds. The “Resources and Support”  button on the left is full of excellent background information - little directly related to how to teach.
3. Dr. Hollowell (who has ADHD) tips for teachers: watch this 1:30 minute video for a unique view.

4. ADHD and Exercise
This is a commercial site but contains interesting information for parents of children with ADHD. It can also help catechists with classroom management ideas.
5. Suggested Classroom Interventions 

6. PARENTS and Catechists: Environments for Children with ADHD Liturgical Resources:
(For persons with Developmental Disabilities)


1. Foley, Edward, ed., Developmental Disabilities and Sacramental Access, The Liturgical Press, 1994.
This is a work of serious scholarship. The chapter on  “Affectivity and Symbol in the Process of Catechesis” is worth the price of the book.

1. USCCB Guidelines for the celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities

2. Sacramental Adaptive Resources - Loyola Press

Learning Disabilities:
(Resources for Leaders, Catechists and Parents)


1. Patton, Sally, Welcoming Children with Special Needs: A guidebook for Faith Communities, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 2004.
(available online at:
2. Cherne, Jacqolyn, The Learning Disabled Child in Your Church, Concordia Publishing House, 1983.
(This is an older text, consider an interlibrary loan from your local library)

1. Learning Disability Association of America

Since 1963, LDA has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals with cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources. These services make LDA the leading resource for information on learning disabilities.

2. Understood: for learning and attention issues

Be sure to see the tab: “How Does It Feel to Have Reading Issues” – listen to the young lady relate her experience, and be sure to take the simulation.

3. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities

Good definitions of various disabilities.