Bill Gaventa is discussing. Toggle Comments
Notes as she is talking following John Swinton.
I am Italian. Our organization is Kairos, born out of friendship. Fostering communities of belonging through attention to the spiritual.
How about if God is doing something amazing in inclusion, and that we who think we are doing it are the ones who need to be included.
Project just completed. In our work with faith communities, we really did not have a voice of the people with intellectual disabilities.
Outcomes and Paradoxes.
Breaking down barriers. Knowing what and how to do it. Many people in secular world know how to make make things accessible, but did not know why spiriutlaity was important. Churches, knew why spirituality was important, but did not know how to translate complex ideas into understandable communication.
EveryBody has a Story: Capital B is intentional. 30 people. TCLE, the cycle of life experience. Invited people from families, from schools, a college, residentail, day center, and faith community.
Every single person had an intuitive sense of their inner being. The more people joined in the focus groups, through pictures, etc., outpouring in response to “somebody wants to hear.” Story to tell, someone to receive it –sense of belonging.
Found utter poverty of space for this to occur, even in faith community. Life was planned and prescribed. Poverty of places to outpour their story.
In residential home, required to honor spirituality…Homes felt they were doing right, church felt they were, but there was no space for meeting. One person, “I want to go to church” said so quietly, as if afraid.”
Staff said, “He has autonomy. He can choose.” So autonomy for home and in church became form of denial.
Lack of opportunity to choose authentic settings and relationships andpeople with whom individuals wish to relate. Always going in and doing to. Found incredible stories of hope. We also found heightened loneliness. Feeling different. Even in body language. A need to please and always be happy. If someone was sad, someone would said, “Now come on. Be happy.” Do something to be happy.
Agreement-Relationship. To have a relationship, it is indespensable to have an agreement before the relationship occurs. By agreement, we intent the consent of both parties, not enforced embrace.
To have an agreement could seem almost impossible because of differening language, Barriers of communication. Some difficulites in empathizing. Relationships are based on need, not will. People know how, but not why. Functional relationships.
This could leave person with intellectual disability searching. I don’t have space to tell people who I am. If people are needy, vulnerable, lonely, reach out. very vulnerable. Invitation could be abused. Forced hospitality? Being given too much to do. Need to slow down, listen to my story, pay attention to me, take some notice of me.
Paradox of Effective Agreement:
Found incredible stories. Hope for change. Joy for life. Constant need to narrate the story of the person.
Research shows people with intellectual disabiltieis often excluded from religous and spiritual Paradox exists in our structures and rituals. Barries are made of words, familiar ways of doing things, the need to achieve a “learning outcome..”
Who is autistic? How authentic is our theology.
Effective relationships was born through hospitality. A possible solution to breaking down barriers of words and usual ways of doing things, Religious community can be a place to be. When will people lever really come together? Create a space for the story. Where in the community do we provide space for the story to disappear and the paradox begins to disappear.
Training for bishop, on effective agreement. Bishop decided to learn. Paradigm shift, what it means to be human, all are speakers.
What is the solution to the paradox?
How to stop the how and why? Facilitate a meeting of people. so the “dis” could be dissolved. Every action a human understakes has the potential to communicate informatino to another person under the right circumstances. Most communicate verbally. 80% of communication is non-verbal sensory human communication.
We therefore very often listen and do not look, or look and do not listen. Jesus: Eyes and ears, but do not see and hear. We think we are creating a space for story to be told, but often a prescribed way of being and doing things. So we do miss out on important people and people who belong to the human story. Without them, our community and body is incomplete.
P- Perceive the language of the body, how a person relates to environment, peers and team
P-Pay attention to how communication was initiated, sounds, words, movements. How did they initiate communication.
A – Absorb, learn from gaining new information as to transcend ourselves and change. The ever self transcending God.
C- Communicate effectively in tune with the way of being.
“PPAC” it all in.
Incarnation theology, creation theology. Learning the language of the Body, Its about belonging. What does the breathing in and breathing out of God (see Don Senior’s presentation) …Re-turn to the self.
Not a reaching for God, With God all the time, God is with us all the time.
“Jesus with me all the time, talks to me. Sometimes, someone else is talking but I know it is him.”
An experience of Kenosis. Empty self completely to take on form of servant. Just keeps on growing. Work in progress. New resource coming out: Everybody has a story. DVD…encourage peole wiht intellectual disabiltieis to reflect spiritually and theologically on what is important in their lives. To release the voice and bring it to the front.
Intentional space for freedom of expression, so as to help people to develop perspectives on their lives that are spiritual and for some, deeply religious.
Jesus did that. Amazing story telling and sharing. Living together well and allwong each others story to inspire. Love paid out in action: Hesed.
Why do you think you are in this world? Because I am. If God is the “I Am,” then every body is.
Cristina Gangemi’s handout
Enabling Communities to Meet the Spiritual and Religious Needs of People with Learning Disabilities: Cristina Gangemi, Vincenzi and Harris
Approaching disability from the viewpoint of relational philosophy and an educative approach, one which explores spiritual development through a relational model, we have discovered that people with an intellectual disability are not enabled by society and institutions to choose the kind of relationships, activities and people with whom they wish to relate.
This situation occurs for two different reasons:
1. People with learning disability often have differing language and cognitive skills. This could lead to barriers of communication and to possible inabilities to empathise or discover different forms of communication and language.
2. People with an intellectual disability can therefore; enter into relationships that are based on needs and not on will. This situation could create the need for authentic friendships. This neediness could place them in a vulnerable position.
Therefore, to enter into an effective agreement and an authentic relationship, one would need to develop new communication skills. This, coupled with empathy and a deeper understanding of the spiritual, inner self of people, will create a space for sharing life stories and a possible solution to the paradox.
To achieve this, a paradigm shift must occur:
From a culture of care to a culture of effective and authentic relationship, that is based on understanding and respecting difference. It is important that differences are not deleted but that they are accepted and respected within the human story.
Every action a human being undertakes has the potential to communicate information to another person or persons under the right circumstances. The greatest majority of humanity is able to competently communicate verbally. We very often do not consciously recognise and/or pay attention to the approximate 80% of human communication that is non verbal and is perceived by the visual sense and not the auditory.
We therefore very often listen and look but do not see. As a consequence, we ‘miss’ important communicative information and understanding.
During the process of our research, we begin the very necessary journey of looking and seeing, so as to develop an empathic appreciation and understanding of how a person with an intellectual disability (LD) with limited or no verbal skills, communicates.
Armed with this empathic understanding and knowledge of an individual, we are now better informed and can begin to develop a ‘shared medium of communication’ (SMC) with that person. A SMC is the judicious use of communication practice, principals and methods that are understood by that person and their interactive partners.
Many professionals and others who work with or spend many hours in the company of individuals who present with a ID, develop this empathic approach to communication. The same are usually able to then develop and sustain the necessary SMC. This process is not so easy for the person who has not had the benefit of specialist training and/or long term exposure to, or experience of the ID person/s That being said there is ‘middle ground’ whereby an empathic, equal and humanistic situation in respect of a naturalistic SMC can develop between interactor and person with Learning Disabilities. It is the development of this situation that is most important for the success of achieving effective agreement
Our research has discovered that people with an intellectual disability have an intuitive sense of their inner being and an urgency to narrate their life story to others. Our research partners, with intellectual disabilities of varying nature, showed a natural and contemplative approach to life. The expression of one’s inner spirit, we have discovered, is fundamental to their psychological and spiritual wellbeing. It has also been evident that they experience a poverty of opportunity in finding places and people with whom they can express their spirituality, in a way that is both meaningful and authentic. One of the reasons that this poverty exists could be that, whilst some people may know how to achieve an effective agreement and practice a Shared Medium of Communication (SMC), they may not fully understand why Spirituality and Religious Practice are important for their lives. It may appear that religious communities are able to meet special needs within their particular settings and that facilitating attendance fulfils a duty of care. In turn we have found that religious communities may ‘understand why’ spirituality and religion are important but may not ‘know how’ to make their services accessible to people with intellectual Disabilities. An outcome of our research has been the development of a practical resource/ programme, which seeks to create opportunities for the development of effective agreement and authentic, hospitable relationships. This practical course provides space for spiritual expression, builds self esteem, tackles loneliness and fosters communities where all people belong, no matter their ability or cognitive skills. Opportunities to engage in the life stories of people with disabilities therefore, leads to a spirituality ‘of being’ rather than ‘of mind’, ‘of presence’ rather than ‘of ability’ and provides an opportunity to be attentive to the other, reciprocal in exchange ad to engage in a real, authentic encounter,
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