Including Special Needs Children – Fr. Demetrius Nicoloudakis

From Father Demetrius Nicoloudakis, Pastor of St. Matthew’s Orthodox Church in Leesport, PA:

I would just like to put this out there. If your children are not around special needs children at school and have never been taught that not everyone is the same. Then maybe you should take 10 min tonight to explain this to them. Even though they may not be around these children at school, they will encounter them in their lives, as it should be.

In the light of recent events, on the exclusion of a child who has autism from participating in a school trip and a child with Down Syndrome being kicked out of dance class because she couldn’t keep up, I feel the need to share this. There are boys and girls that nobody invites to birthday parties.

There are special kids who want to belong to a team but don’t get selected because it is more important to win than include these children. Children with special needs are not rare or strange, they only want what everyone else wants: to be accepted !! For all the wonderful children out there.

The Church’s Website: St. Matthew’s Orthodox Church

Healing and Community in Orthodox Christianity -Part 1, A Seminar by Fr. Demetrius Nicoloudakis; A Video Series

Parts 2 – 9 can be found here: Healing and Community in Orthodox Christianity, Parts 1 – 9


Kathleen Bolduc’s Ministry to Persons with Disabilities

Kathleen Bolduc is a mother of six children, three girls and three boys, the youngest of which is on the autism spectrum. She has written four books on ministry with persons with disability, with a focus on those on the autism spectrum. And while she is not an Orthodox Christian, her devotion to Christ is fervent. She is truly an inspiration for those of us seeking to lovingly relate to persons with disabilities, and is also instructive to that end.

Her website:

Disablity Inclusion Ministry

See also: Kathleen Bolduc’s Books

Kathleen Bolduc discusses the inspiration for her book, “The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities” on this You Tube Video:

On Mental Health Referrals by Orthodox Clergy

To Access:


Father Isaac discusses the dynamics of the relationships between lay people and their spiritual fathers. Lay people tend to idealize their priests, and . . .

Jesus Healing the Sick,

by Gustav Dore.
from Wikipedia

. . . priests, if they accept the extent of this idealization at face value are vulnerable to becoming narcissistic. And, because of their advanced learning and their primary position in their parish, the temptation lurks around the corner to liken themselves to monastic spiritual elders. This unfortunate development in certain Orthodox Christian priests will make it unlikely that they would recognize mental health problem that require expertise that they do not have.

Of course, there may not be accessible Orthodox Christian professionals with such expertise in the area in which the troubled person lives. And so the issue of trust in the guidance of a non-Orthodox or secular professional becomes an issue to spiritual fathers, whether narcissistic or not. Will my parishioner be guided into spiritual harmful practices? Will he lose his Faith?

But some mental health problems simply cannot be adequately addressed from within the local Orthodox Christian community. The Holy Spirit can work outside the Church, as every human being is made in the image of God. And in any case, the Orthodox Christian faith is not the focus of psychological therapy. Those, then, who help the troubled person’s other issues, peripheral to the faith, complement the efforts of the person’s spiritual father.

Fr. Isaac recommends that mental health recommendations be studied and dealt with in Orthodox Christian Seminaries, National Church Administrations, Orthodox Associations and Professional Organizations, Dioceses, and local Parishes, and he gives specific suggestions for each of these.

V. Rev. Isaac Skidmore holds an MDiv from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and a PhD in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria CA. He is an adjunct instructor in the clinical mental health counseling program at Southern Oregon University. He practices as a licensed counselor in Southern Oregon, frequently working with people who are exploring issues of faith, meaning, and identity. He served as rector at Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church (OCA) in Ashland OR during a decade of its growth as a mission parish, where he remains attached as auxiliary priest.

Three In-Depth Papers in regard to Christian Involvement with People with Disabilities

In regard to our involvement with people with disabilities, there are things we can learn from the perspectives of non-Orthodox Christian scholars who have addressed these issues in some depth. Here are three papers for consideration.

To Access:

Virtuous suffering and the predicament of being handicapped. Towards a theology of the ‘disabled God puffing in a wheelchair’

Daniel J. Louw, a professor from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, discusses supplementing a theology of the cross in regard to people with disabilities with a theology of ability. He references St. Gregory the Theologian among others. 14 pp.

To Access:

The biblical view of humanity and the promotion of the rights of persons with disability

Dr. Peter White of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, discusses disability in the light of the Holy Scriptures, explores the basis of human rights in regard to persons with disabilities, and the Christian Church’s missionto persons with disability, which includes discipleship and advocacy. 9 pp.

Also, from the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization – Hidden and Forgotten People: Ministry Among People with Disabilities, 35 pp. See below:

Click to access LOP35B_IG6B.pdf

Children with Special Needs and the Orthodox Christian Family

From the Department of Christian Service on The Orthodox Church in America Website, by Father Steven Tsichlis. To access:

Children with Special Needs and the Orthodox Christian Family

As he went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?”  Jesus answered: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”   ~ John 9:1-3

Fr. Steven’s exhorts and encourages families with children that have disabilities to weather the storm with the aid of the Parish Church community and it’s spiritual father.

Also from Fr. Steven Peter Tsichlis: Why Are Priests Called Father In Your Church?

Fr. Steven, speaking at a Church Retreat at St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, California:

“The Lord’s Prayer: Praying & Living As the Lord Jesus Taught:”


The Explosive Child: A New Approach For Understanding And Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

First, The book: 

About Dr. Greene: Dr. Ross W. Greene


Ross W. Greene is an American clinical child psychologist and author of the books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings. Greene developed the model of intervention called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS). He has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Greene is founding director of the non-profit Lives in the Balance, and developed and executive produced the documentary film, The Kids We Lose.  . . .

The CPS Website: Lives in the Balance: Fostering Collaboration – Transforming Lives – Inspiring Change

Dr. Greene’s Website: Dr. Ross Greene (and his four books) His You Tube Page: Dr.RossGreene

There are four more videos on Dr. Greene’s You Tube Page

International Orthodox Christian Charities Trains Refugees as Volunteer Healthcare Workers

To access the story:

International Orthodox Christian Charities Trains Refugees as Volunteer Healthcare Workers

Baltimore, MD (April 10, 2018) – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the humanitarian and development agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, has passed the eight-month mark in implementing services for people with disabilities in Azraq refugee camp, Jordan, along with healthcare education for other residents of the camp who are training to care for fellow refugees with vision and hearing needs. 

In addition to these basic services, IOCC’s Azraq project is training 10 refugees in community-based rehabilitation. This internationally recognized approach to supporting persons with disabilities promotes their involvement in their own care and integration into society. The method was initiated by the World Health Organization in 1978. To implement it in the Azraq camp, IOCC has collaborated with Al Hussein Society, a local nongovernmental organization that specializes in serving people with disabilities.

In parallel programming, IOCC has trained 45 additional volunteers in and around Amman, both Syrian refugees and Jordanians, in the fundamental tenets of screening and assessing visual and hearing impairments. These volunteers can now assist others through the project.  . . .

Not only are refugees with medical needs receiving treatment, but others also have an opportunity to help people with disabilities in the camp.

WebMD: Mental Health

To Access:

WebMD: Mental Health

WebMD has 13 blogs, each of which is devoted to aspects of health. In addition, there is a pulldown menu which offers practical steps to take in caring for one’s health, including a way to subscribe. The Mental Health Blog focuses on the maintenance of mental health.

WebMD also has a You Tube page: 

You Tube: WebMD

It includes playlists related to mental health, such as Teens and Stress with Soledad O’Brien:

And PTSD with Soledad OBrien:

Continue reading ‘WebMD: Mental Health’

Orthodox Christian Network: Disability

Three articles and a Webinar that focus on persons with disabilities on the Orthodox Christian Network:

To Access: OCNetwork: Disability

The Orthodox Christian Network features Podcasts, Videos, Radio 24/7, and three blogs: Children’s Word, Daily Prayer Team, and Pemptousia Partnership. There is also a page entitled “Orthodoxy Explained.” You could learn a lot at OCN, and also receive inspiration to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

What we believe:




The Mighty: 17 ‘Toxic’ Habits That Can Seriously Affect Your Mental Health

17 ‘Toxic’ Habits That Can Seriously Affect Your Mental Health

by Monique Vitche

Number 1 is Focusing Too Much on Yourself; number 17 is Saying “Yes” to Everything

Number 6 is Staying in Bed All Day; number 11 is Neglecting Your Hygiene.

You will have to read this yourself to discover what she writes concerning these and the other 13. The descriptions are brief. This article will not require a whole lot of your time. But you may see your own habits listed here. As for me, I held onto number 9 for decades and decades until I was nearly 60! But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Also, I still wrestle with numbers 2 & 8. 

There are a lot of You Tube videos that address this matter. See

You Tube: Toxic Habits

But for Orthodox Christians, we know that we can do nothing without the Lord, which, of course for us means, “Pray!” We are also called to aspire to be saints, one step at at time. As the Lord Jesus said, “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5) He also said, in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 6, “Be merciful, as your Father in heaven is merciful.”  Sometimes  two steps forward, one step back. As we have all been told, “When you fall, get up.” (and press on)

A saying from the Church fathers:

“Being a saint doesn’t mean not to make mistakes, but to always see your own sins and try to abandon them because he who sees his own sins is greater than he who raises the dead.”

We cannot move forward if unless we see the need for it! 

More on You Tube from an Orthodox Christian spiritual fathers on toxic habits (sins):

and for good measure:


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