My dear friend, Laura Deeken, was gracious enough to share about her special needs ministry with us in this post. After her husband volunteered them to work with the children at church, her heart found her true calling. As an SLP, Laura transitioned from a school-based role to a faith-based role. After retirement, she has now transitioned her business as well.
Laura has extremely helpful information for someone looking to start a special needs ministry on her new website, The Adapted Word such as:
- Where to Start in Special Needs Ministry
- 5 Things You Need for Special Needs Ministry
- Special Needs Ministry with Little or No Space
In 2016, I was going through a transition. I was bogged down in paperwork and had totally forgotten my why. My purpose had turned into timelines and crossing all the t’s, dotting all the i’s. It probably didn’t help that my younger child graduated and started college out of state.
During the summer, my daughter helped lead several Backyard Bible Clubs, including one set up for children with special needs. One evening, my husband and I attended. To my surprise, there were several children I had previously worked with in attendance, and I enjoyed catching up with them and their parents. Before I knew it, my husband had volunteered us to work with the special needs ministry at church.
This ministry was something I had avoided for years. After all, being a school-based SLP was my day job. Didn’t I need Sunday to refresh and learn myself? Plus, there was a Bible verse that made me cautious.
Matthew 18: 6 says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
I mean, wow. Who would want that punishment? Not me!
“God Changed My Life”
When I started volunteering with “His Kids” (the name of my church’s special needs ministry), the other volunteers became excited about what I could bring to the program. That was more pressure than a selling point at the time.
The second Sunday I was there, the lesson was about Esther. Afterwards, one of the girls was playing with blocks. I started playing with her and commenting with all the speech therapy things we say, relating her activity to the story and reviewing the story.
“Let’s make a castle for Esther.”
“Esther was brave.”
“God loved Esther.”
“Can you teach me how to do that?”
One of the volunteers was staring at me. She asked, “Can you teach me how to do that?” I have always thought that if I knew something, everyone else did. That statement – only the second time I volunteered – led to a new path.
At first, I just talked to the volunteers about the importance of repetition. Then, I created resources for them to use with the children. Both times, the volunteers didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until I typed out and printed instructions that the volunteers knew what to do.
God addressed my concerns in many ways. For my own Biblical learning, I was able to attend the first service and volunteer the second service. The lead volunteers led a small group which my husband and I ended up joining.
And the Bible verse? It still holds me accountable. God also taught me that if I have skills that I am not using, that is sin.
Special needs ministry became something I looked forward to. I could use my SLP skills without documenting every little movement and statement. It was more like play. Suddenly, being an SLP was fun again!
A lot has happened since summer 2016. God has allowed me to retire from the schools and guided me into a faith-based business, The Adapted Word. This journey has led to meeting so many wonderful people, learning a new world, and renewing my purpose. God has returned purpose and passion to my life.
Hi! I’m Laura, an SLP (speech-language pathologist) for 28 years and a volunteer in special needs ministry for 5 years.
My passion is using language through simple concepts and repetitions to teach children. My belief is that language disorders are prevalent through children with autism, Down syndrome, and intellectual disabilities. By simplifying language, repeating concepts, and serving with calm, positive attitudes, we can present The Gospel to all children more effectively.
I love greens and blues, I’m a lifelong Texan, and my family is my heart. I try to kick the Diet Coke habit every once in a while and fail epically. Although I grew up in the church, I didn’t truly understand the application to my life until I was an adult and had two fantastic preachers.
My store started as All Y’all Need on Teachers pay Teachers in 2012, so you’ll still see that name. I am currently transferring everything to The Adapted Word. Click here to see all the product downloads for free and for purchase. Email me @firstname.lastname@example.org.