Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh Ye With Great Faith

I am on the list of Disabled Christianity . It is all about the need for Christians to reach out to disabled persons in our communities. They recently published an article about a miracle of faith. I hope you will read it.

We received a grant from The Hatton Foundation to do "Ethnographic Research" with families with special needs children. Last Sunday we came together to share our insights about the heroic nature of the people who are opening themselves to our probing questions.

Without exception, these folks are outstanding and hard working people. The reason each one gave for taking the time to be involved with us at least ten hours each month was, "We want to help other people." (And believe me when I say, these parents do not have the time to give ten hours each month.) They want to GIVE!

Gary Sweeten's July Report to The Hatton Foundation

We interviewed each family as a precursor to enrolling them in the project. We also asked each couple to fill out an extensive report on their situation, support systems, stresses and needs. Each family is then interviewed by a team of two persons. Every session is audio or videotaped so we can intensely review the family’s sharing. Emerging insights early in our process:

1. A strong desire not to be victims but victors that rise to meet the daily challenges of disability. This admirable attitude can, however, limit the family’s ability to seek available support.

2. The lack of coordination among treatment professionals. Families are sometimes left to their own devices to find and access assistance that is due them.

3. The immense financial costs of rearing a disabled child and the need for sensitive, well trained professionals in law, insurance, financial planning, etc.

4. The ignorance, avoidance and sometimes anger of professionals about the insights, strengths, pressures or needs of the child’s family. The approach of many professionals comes across as accusatory, punitive and distrustful.

5. The amazing level of resilience that families must possess to deal effectively with the medical, educational, insurance and personal systems while facing the pressures of caring for a family. The families that are responding best to those pressures have a great deal of help from family members, friends and church fellowships.

6. The importance of spiritual resources to the families but their paucity in the community.

7. The uneven availability of educational, medical, spiritual and psychological resources in the Greater Cincinnati area. (And, we assume, other areas as well.)

8. The importance of educating professionals and spiritual leaders about the benefits of understanding what the parents can contribute to the child’s and the medical, educational systems’ welfare.

9. The need for each family to have coaches, mentors and wise support systems in place to walk with them and advise them each step of their journey.

10. This new approach to research which actually asks the clients what they need is desperately needed by medical, educational, financial and religious systems to get the whole picture.

Go to my web page for more information.

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