We have been so blessed to be a part of a very loving and accepting church. I remember the first day we brought Gess there. She was 3 1/2 years old and we left her the nursery while we went to church. I had visited a few times without her and confirmed that they didn't mind if a 3 year old went back there. They did say up to 3 was fine but made sure I knew that older kids went back sometimes as well, even if they didn't have special needs. They really made me feel at ease.
So anyway, after we dropped Gess off at the nursery we headed down to the sanctuary. Low and behold, as soon as we sat down we saw Gess running in right behind us. She apparently was able to unlock and open the door! She always was good at escaping! Thankfully the nursery worker was right on her tail and able to get her back with no trouble. Well, the very next week when we took Gess to the nursery a change had been made. They put a lock in place that Gess could not reach! I was so touched. We were just visitors. We had not joined or anything yet and they still took the effort to meet her needs.
The nursery worker, who is now a dear friend, was amazing. As a fellow homeschooler she is the one who led me to Handwriting Without Tears. They were playing with instruments and Gess and her took the sticks and started making some letters with them. She thought the blocks from HWT would be great for her and boy was she right! She was always very sensitive and asked great questions, like how much I wanted Gess to participate. Did I want her to try to make Gess sit in the group or was her getting up and wandering off alone OK too? It is a blessing to have a group of people that cared enough to do what we wanted.
Gess has grown to be a tremendous part of our church. From making her AWANA leader cry when she realized how great she was at reading and memorizing verses to walking around the sanctuary shaking everyone's hand as one of our best morning greeters, Gess has impacted our church in a very positive way. They have certainly impacted us too.
I know not every one is as blessed as we are. I have heard horror stories of how people have been treated. If your church is struggling figuring out how to include your child, you might check out my previous blog Socialization and Inclusion at Church. I share a great resource that might help.
Today we celebrated our nation's independence with a hog roast picnic after church. We had a blast! I truly love spending time with with the people there. They are the definition of what a "church family" should be. I think that was the best game of volleyball I ever played. Not because I was good at it, but because everyone was having fun together. As always, Gess fit right in and was welcome in middle of all the madness!