Every child and young person needs support to help them learn or engage with activities. Some need additional or different support from those of the same age to ensure that everyone benefits from all they participate in. We want to address some of the important questions around these needs. Welcome to ‘All inclusive’.
I’ve been asked a few times for book tips to help with understanding, supporting and working with children and young people with additional needs. So, this month I thought I would put together a list of some of the books that I’ve found helpful over the years. There are many more that I could have added, but I hope these help you and the people you serve too!
Please note, some of these books are only available second hand now, but there are lots of both in-building and online places where you can still get them. If you are looking for a specific title and can’t find it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see what I can do!
General accessibility and inclusion books
Many churches are largely unaware of the presence and needs of people with learning disabilities in their community. They may be unprepared to welcome people with learning disabilities and ill-equipped to teach and disciple them in the Christian faith. They can be unaware of how much including people with learning disabilities will enrich the church experience for all church members. This book will address all of these issues!
Gordon Temple and Lin Ball
This rich resource book for church leaders, congregations and small groups challenges us to get to grips with what the Bible says about disability – and what the Church could do in response. Themes of understanding, inclusion and interdependency are explored through discussion, prayer, worship, hands-on activities and listening to the authentic voices of disabled people.
Creating an accessible community which reflects God’s heart for all people is so much more than ramps and physical access. This book explores how we can enable everyone to have a deep knowledge of God’s love – a love that surpasses the things we can cognitively know or explain. A love that does not depend on our own ability, but entirely on the character of God. A love that sees value in each and every individual, no matter what the world sees.
Autism specific books
This book was written by an autistic boy when aged 13, telling his story and describing the world as he experiences it. Helpful in catching a glimpse into an autistic child’s mind, there’s a bestselling film based on this book too.
Written by adult who identifies as autistic and also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sensory processing disorder (SPD), the book shares the related stories behind some of her highly acclaimed and successful worship songs. Kat is a friend and this book helps in understanding what makes her tick. Although based around her songs (which are great), the book also gives real insight into her neurodiversity.
Inspired by the author’s own experiences with his own son, this is a moving, hilarious and most of all true-to-life story of love, family, Minecraft and autism.
Michael James runs his own forest school in Somerset. He has more than 15 years’ experience working as a support worker for autistic people and is a member of the Forest School Association. I think there is much here that can inform the Church.
Books to help families of children with additional needs
A beautifully practical guide to living a life of joy, especially when that seems hard to find, this book invites you to see God’s everyday blessings, discovering that in giving thanks for the life we have we can find the life we always wanted. A helpful resource for parents.
Rachel’s personal and evocative narrative exposes the heart of being forced to live an unexpected life. Her story will make you laugh and cry as she shares her experiences of grappling with healing, forgiveness, grief and her faith. A parent’s story that will be helpful to other parents.
A real-life story of difficulty, disability and hope. It covers issues such as self-image, self-worth, loss, faith, perseverance and mental health. Questions at the end of the book help to start conversations around these topics. It is suitable for readers in KS2 and is a great resource for either children experiencing disability or their siblings.
…and finally, there’s a book that I wrote!
This practical guide provides useful advice on how to make church a space where autistic children and young people can thrive. It urges children’s, youth and families’ workers to be agents of change within both their own ministries and the wider church community, building a better place of inclusion, belonging and spiritual development for all.