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(Posted August 19th 2016 @ 2:35 PM by: Melody Reever)
We recently attended a Fragile X conference. Fragile X Syndrome is what my son has. Like autism, it can cause a person to have difficulty communicating with people, as well as a diagnosis of intellectual disability. Often the parents and grandparents of these individuals may be genetically predisposed to having social anxiety, and some of them may also have a tremor disorder similar to Parkinson’s. Despite these challenges, families come from far and wide to attend this five-day conference. They flock from every state and even other countries.
And while they are there, it doesn’t matter if their child melts down in the middle of the hallway, if they refuse to go into a room, or stop and squeal at the top of an escalator. No one looks twice when someone stumbles due to lack of balance, walks a little more slowly, or if their hands are a bit shaky. There are sessions especially for the individuals with Fragile X, and as they enter the room the presenters say, “If you don’t want to do this activity, don’t worry; you don’t have to.” At one point in the afternoon I walked down the hallway and saw someone sitting on the floor outside a room, peering through the door enjoying the session from the hallway where they felt safer. There were individuals who grunted or squealed at me, and I attempted to respond in turn. It was lovely. A place where there was understanding and acceptance.
When we all returned home, someone tried to explain the conference to those who had not attended. She described it as almost a “church-like” atmosphere. What a great analogy! Special needs aside, church is a place of love where people are kind and encouraging, overlook challenges, and meet people where they are in an understanding way.
There was a chorus that we used to sing when I was a little girl that said, “I love the thrill that I feel when I get together with God’s wonderful people.” I often feel that way when I wander into the ABLE Ministry UPCI Facebook page. It isn’t that everything is happy and cheerful, but there is nothing like gathering with like-minded saints, even if it is just online. There is a thrill in knowing you are not alone, what you feel is normal, and that there is someone else out there facing the same struggles.
If you know of anyone who is affected by disabilities, give them the gift of being connected: the ABLE Ministry UPCI on Facebook.