One of the most important things a person can provide for any person and especially for a man or woman who is developmentally disabled is a safe harbor–a place where they can securely share their thoughts, feelings and emotions. Because of their intellectual development, many people within the mentally challenged community are also stunted in expressing their deep emotions.
There are only a few vehicles wherein this population where they would be expected or allowed to share their genuine thoughts. All of us are heavily invested in teaching this population Scriptural principles. Nonetheless, unless the precepts become practical applications in their lives, they will never learn them effectively.
Therefore, it is vital to give our members the space wherein they are allowed to share their thoughts. How we do this is not easy. Though the answers regarding a “how to” may seem simplistic.
- You must aske targeted and pointed questions.
- You must allow the members to share without interruption.
- You must allow the members time to answer. When a question is asked, the leader of the group will often wait a few seconds and then answer the question themselves. Waiting is hard but it reaps great dividends.
- You must be sure that the answer to your questions are not to complicated or a vehicle to showcase how smart the examiner is. In other words, don’t ask trick question.
- You must give the members many successes with their answers. If a person give a totally off the rail answer, rephrase it until you have found an answer with which they agree.
- When asking an opinion question, be sure that every answer is given validity. No opinion is incorrect. An opinion is owned by the responder–not the asker.
- Give the answers extra validity by writing the answers down on a board of some type.
- It is most important that the answering party knows without a doubt that the questioner loves him or her. It takes time and a great deal of patience to truly show that you love your members.
It takes an extremely secure person to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and emotions. We must understand that most people within the disability community are not secure. Many of them know full range of their deficiencies better than anyone else. They must be given a safe harbor to insure that they are able to receive the healing that the Holy Spirit wants to give through your ministry.