Are mentally disabled members supposed to be with their own age group in Church classes?

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Dear Gramps,

I would like to share with you a message received from one of our sisters in a unit within our stake regarding mentally disabled adults attending classes. This sister is Primary President of her unit. A sister in her Branch last Sunday brought a couple of adults from a care home who are mentally disabled. They have the mentality of a 3- or 4-year-old child. This sister was insistent that they attend Primary and was very adamant about their staying in Primary. The Primary President explained to her that they needed to be in the class of their age, not the class of their mentality.

I have searched the manual (I am in the Stake primary presidency) pertaining to teaching the disabled and our new handbook but have not been able to find anything in writing which substantiates my thoughts. Is it written somewhere that disabled people are to be with their own age group in classes?

Sandra

 

Dear Sandra,

As you have seen from the manuals and handbooks, there is no stated policy for class assignments to mentally handicapped individuals. Undoubtedly they should be placed where they can best be served. A mentally handicapped adult, although limited in ability to understand, may feel quite uncomfortable in a class of little children. (And the little children might feel uncomfortable and inhibited with such a person in their class.) But if treated with kindness by those around him or her, the handicapped person may feel the love and acceptance of others. If there were significant interest in teaching the gospel to an adult of limited capacity, it would seem that the teaching could much better be accomplished on a one-to-one basis than in a class of children.

However, these suggestions are made without any knowledge of the particular people or circumstances. In such cases where differences of opinion exist, it would seem always a good idea to refer to the bishop of the ward, and let him make the decision of the proper disposition of the circumstance.

Gramps

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Are mentally disabled members supposed to be with their own age group in Church classes? - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
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A sister in her Branch last Sunday brought a couple of adults from a care home who are mentally disabled. They have the mentality of a 3- or 4-year-old child. This sister was insistent that they attend Primary and was very adamant about their staying in Primary.
  • Susan Craig

    Having worked with the mentally disabled, I can tell you that they DO need to feel loved. Although they may not be able to return your expression of love, they have eternal spirits and can still feel such things, and they truly are special.

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