Students show up where they’re wanted. This is true for all students—including those with developmental disabilities. But what does it really look like to create a ministry environment that attracts and engages students with special needs? On this episode, join ministry leaders for a conversation with special education expert Melinda Anderson all about engaging students with special needs in your community and equipping leaders to effectively serve those with developmental disabilities.


In 2016, 1 out of every 14 kids between the ages of 3-14 have been diagnosed with some kind of developmental disability. (3:00)

What is a developmental disability? (3:45)

As a ministry leader, if you don’t have a background in special needs, it can be very intimidating to step in to this area. (7:00)

What is inclusion when it comes to special needs students? (8:30)

Do students with special needs need to be included in regular programming or have their own program? (10:00)

How do you include your students with special needs in your youth ministry? (10:30)

What is an IEP? (11:00)

As the adults in the lives of students with special needs, we need to align the language we are using to help them win. (15:30)

One of the things we get wrong in student ministry is when we make students with special needs our mascots. (19:00)

If the goal is inclusion, we must make them a part of our group. (19:30)

Parents of students with special needs have unique challenges. (24:00)

Students flock to where they’re wanted. (26:00)

How would you train a Small Group Leader to lead students with special needs? (28:00)

View each special needs student as a student first, and never assume they don’t know what you’re talking about. (28:30)

We have to teach our leaders to let go of all expectations of how a student will receive what you’re teaching them. (29:00)

Tap into the resources that exist in the local school system. (32:00)

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