As we journey deeper into our Eucharistic Revival, let’s be mindful of our responsibility to call all of God’s people to the Table of the Lord, especially those with disabilities! Recently, the National Community of Catechetical Leaders (NCCL) hosted an online conference that focused on inclusive catechesis that engages learners of differing abilities. One session in that conference featured the work of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) and was presented by the Executive Director of NCPD, Charleen Katra (co-author with John Barone of The Adaptive Teacher: Faith-Based Strategies to Reach and Teach Learners with Disabilities).
Over the years, Loyola Press has worked closely with NCPD to develop the highest quality faith formation resources for engaging children who have disabilities. In fact, the groundbreaking Adaptive Finding God program was developed in consultation with the NCPD and, along with the Adaptive Learning Kits for sacramental preparation, features many of the tips and strategies that NCPD advocates for use with those with disabilities, including:
- blended learning that uses technology and hands-on materials
- shorter segments of instruction
- smaller groups of learners
- the incorporation of music and movement
- multisensory approach (the engagement of all five senses)
- use of visuals and three-dimensional objects
- maintaining a routine
- reliance on simpler and fewer words
- small, handheld objects (fidgets)
With reference to the Eucharistic Revival, catechists and families can utilize the above tips and strategies when using the award-winning Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit and its components and the associated Loyola Learning Tools to bring children with disabilities to the Table of the Lord. The Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit (also available in Spanish) enables people with autism and other special needs to participate fully in their faith, individuals who otherwise might not be able to receive the Eucharist. This teaching tool is a first of its kind; it helps individuals meet USCCB Eucharist requirements for individuals with disabilities to distinguish the Holy Eucharist from ordinary food and to receive the Eucharist reverently.
Let’s use all of the tools at our disposal to invite, welcome, and accompany those with disabilities on the journey to the Table of the Lord!