In his book “Foundations for Orthodox Christian Education” Dr. John Boojamra of blessed memory lays out the key means by which persons are socialized. This, of course, includes persons with disabilities.
Addressing the personal development of persons with disability, including those with intellectual disabilities, proceeds on the same basic foundation that applies to everybody else. They, too, are made in the image of God. Yes, adjustments must be made, but not by putting them in another category. The word “special” must not be taken as “different.” It should mean that they are to be recipients of greater honor, as both St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:24 and St. James in St. James 1:9 affirm.
Consider these statements from the book:
The family and the Church, in that order, are the matrix of socialization. (P. 10)
Orthodox Christian socialization is, in general terms, the process of human growth toward the uniting of oneself and others to Christ and His Church.
Those who have not, (or perhaps never will) reach the stage of abstract reasoning learn by experience, by watching- it is therefore imperative to include them in Church events. (pp 42-43)
Prayer by rote is one of the steps to sharing in the adult world. (P. 50)
Self-worth develops through accomplishment, acceptance, and a sense of belonging to both family and Church . . . the Church’s symbols and their constancy are assimilated; later, concepts [may] grow. The growth beyond egocentrism is facilitated by the shared experience of [these] symbolic structures, [whose] Divine depth invite eternal growth and discovery of the image of God inherent in every person.
The sensual- art, music, vestments, color, and tastes, experienced in the Liturgy- is the way (p. 53) Christ became flesh; touch is essential. Liturgy, fasting, prayer, and service, at Church and at home, socialize a person into [active citizenship] in the Kingdom. (p. 55)
Two key ingredients for socialization in the family: 1. the father’s commitment to the Faith and to love; 2. a loving relationship between the husband and wife (p. 80)
The Church and the lateral relationships it provides undergirds its families. (PP. 91-93)
Parish-based family-centered catechesis, balancing cognitive and affective elements, and addressing family efforts to worship, play, learn, and serve together, are a priority for the liturgy after the Liturgy if the parish is to be healthy, cohesive, and growing. (pp. 95-97)
The Church could be a clearinghouse for family support specialists; workshops by such specialists would be helpful. (P. 170)
A Memorial: John Boojamra ☦1999
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