Book review: '(dis)Abilities and the Gospel'

Published: Saturday, July 30 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"(DIS)ABILITIES AND THE GOSPEL: How to Bring People with Special Needs Closer to Christ," by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons, M.S. Cedar Fort, $16.99, 249 pages (nf)

When parents prepare to have children, they expect to change diapers, get very little sleep, see their child cry and snuggle their baby. Most parents, however, do no expect their child to have mental or physical disabilities.

Raising children with disabilities comes with many unexpected lifestyle changes and questions. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of these questions revolve around gospel participation and church attendance.

How can parents help their child feel included? How can parents help teachers and leaders understand the needs of their child?

Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons’ book “(dis)Abilities and the Gospel: How to Bring People with Special Needs closer to Christ,” is full of suggestions, tips and hope for those who are seeking ways to bring their children to Christ.

This book is a helpful reference for parents, but should also be required reading for leaders and teachers who have children with disabilities in their classes or Scout troops.

In 249 pages, the authors offer teaching strategies and advice for Primary, Young Men and Young Women groups, Scouting, baptism, temple attendance, church callings, teaching prayer and scripture study, and missions. Several chapters are written to families on how to survive sacrament meeting, family home evening, holidays, and build relationships between parents and children and siblings.

Although the book was written using LDS Church meetings as examples, the information does not apply to LDS Church members alone. The suggestions are useful to any congregation or group with members or participants with disabilities. The book provides a glossary of Mormon terms to make applications and translations easy.

Several pages share personal stories from parents on how they confronted the issue on whether their child with disabilities was prepared or able to be baptized.

Each page teaches love, patience, determination and respect for the "special spirits" that are part of your church family. This book will help parents and teachers come up with plans that will help the children in their ward family be participants in the gospel.

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