EXPLANATION: The Episcopal Church has a long and rich tradition of Full Inclusion, where "there are no outcasts" and all are welcome. Over the years, a number of General Convention Resolutions and the Episcopal Disability Network have worked hard to promote accessibility for those with physical disabilities. Today we have a much better and growing understanding of those who frequently are "invisible" among us: those with Developmental Disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ADD, and those with Intellectual Disabilities and genetic conditions such as Down syndrome.
At the 77th General Convention, in 2012, the following resolution was approved:
General Convention Resolution D068, “Move Toward Full Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities”
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the Church recognizes that all
people are children of God, regardless of mental abilities; and be it further
Resolved, That those with developmental disabilities, including but not limited to
persons with Asperger's syndrome, persons on the autism spectrum, persons with Down syndrome, and persons with ADHD, require different approaches to
education and pastoral care; and be it further
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention create a Task Force to study what
resources are currently available, and to create resources that can be used to help
educators and clergy to tend to this population, and to foster the unique talents
found in this population that should be embraced and encouraged.
The objective of the Task Force (Standing Commission on Health Sub-committee) on Full Inclusion is to develop “Resources to Encourage Full Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities.” In order to do this we intend to conduct a two-year process that will result in:
- the development of a statement of the challenges and opportunities posed by full inclusion of persons with the three developmental disabilities identified in 2012-DO68 (“Move Towards Full Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities”);
- a theological rationale for the full inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities in congregations;
- guidelines for pastoral care of persons with developmental disabilities and their inclusion in congregations; and
- materials for the Christian formation of persons with disabilities and congregations that include them, including liturgical resources.
In order to better educate and enable both the clergy and the laity of our congregations (particularly the volunteer Sunday School teachers who have little or no background in how to nurture and teach these children), this survey is part of the process of developing accessible resources for use in The Episcopal Church and also to support a change in our culture and attitudes in order that we may better understand and more fully include those with intellectual disabilities, and their families, in the life of the Church.