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Children with special needs frequently face obstacles and barriers to inclusive participation in various activities among their peers; most commonly due to mental, physical, and/or social limitations and deficits (Mathur & Koradia, 2018). One activity in particular impacted by such barriers is participation in spiritual activities within a church (Jacober, 2007; Lee, 2010).

While several highly successful special needs ministries have been established globally, many churches currently either lack appropriate evidence-based volunteer and staff training, adequate resources and accommodations to meet each child’s needs and functional capabilities or are unable to provide any accommodation services. (Avis, 2019; Jacober, 2007; Lee, 2010). This then impacts not only successful inclusion into spiritual health activities and overall effectiveness of the ministry, but the quality of life of both the child and their family (Avis, 2019).

The purpose of this project was to aid in the overall provision and development of special needs ministries nationwide through partnership with a pre-existing special needs ministry. This program aimed at enhancing and revising the special needs ministry for increased accommodation and effectiveness through evidence-based volunteer training/education, enhancement of the classroom curriculum, development and implementation of youth community gatherings, and provision of occupational therapy resources to edify accessibility and inclusion within the ministry.

Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2020


Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Spring 2020 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on April 23, 2020.


  1. Avis, H. (2019). American churches are failing congregants with disabilities. Evans, C. (2019). Five ways to help students with special needs.
  2. Jacober, A. (2007). Ostensibly welcome: Exploratory research on the youth ministry experiences of families of teenagers with disabilities. The Journal of Youth Ministry, 6, 67-92.
  3. Mathur, S., & Koradia, K. (2018). Parents' attitude toward inclusion of their children with Autism in mainstream classrooms. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 4(2).
  4. Opp, A. (2019). Occupational therapy in early intervention: Helping children succeed.
  5. Rosenburg, L., Maeir, A., Yochman, A., Dahan, I., Hirsch, I., (2015). Effectiveness of a cognitive-functional group intervention among preschoolers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A pilot study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69.

Occupational Therapy’s Role in Spirituality: Partnering with a Special Needs Ministry