Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FHE 6/25: Special Lessons

This talk, "Special Lessons" by Elder Ronald A. Rasband, centers on life lessons learned by caring for a child with special needs.  It really hit home for me with Caida's struggles with epilepsy the last 5 1/2 years.  When you have something like that strike in your life, you really do learn many small but powerful life lessons.  I had a hard time deciding exactly how to approach this talk this week (which is why you're getting it late); the first part of Elder Rasband's talk focuses a lot on having faith through adversity, while the second half of the talk really struck me as a call to action of sorts--to be superheroes in serving others!  Seriously, the word "superheroes" just kept running through my mind as I read.  :)  Anyway, I'd thought about going both ways, but really I wanted to focus on this idea of compassionate service for those in need, knowing the worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God.  We sometimes think our families will just learn how to treat other children with special needs (or any different circumstances), but explicitly talking about these things--and ultimately about how much Heavenly Father loves us ALL--is absolutely necessary if we want to ensure our children and families are compassionate and accepting of all.


  • What lessons have I learned from my biggest trials?
  • We know the worth of souls is great in the sight of God--what does that mean?  What is the worth of souls to us?
  • What experiences have my children/family members had with special needs?


  • “A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. …“Eventually the time will come when each ‘spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame’ (Alma 11:43). Then, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfected in Him.”1
  • "Some might ask when faced with such suffering, how could Almighty God let this happen? And then that seemingly inevitable question, why did this happen to me? Why must we experience disease and events that disable or call precious family members home early or extend their years in pain? Why the heartaches? At these moments we can turn to the great plan of happiness authored by our Heavenly Father. That plan, when presented in the pre-earth life, prompted us all to shout for joy. Put simply, this life is training for eternal exaltation, and that process means tests and trials. It has always been so, and no one is spared. Trusting in God’s will is central to our mortality. With faith in Him, we draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few."
  • "President James E. Faust, my boyhood stake president, said: “I have a great appreciation for those loving parents who stoically bear and overcome their anguish and heartbreak for a child who was born with or who has developed a serious mental or physical infirmity. This anguish often continues every day, without relief, during the lifetime of the parent or the child. Not infrequently, parents are required to give superhuman nurturing care that never ceases, day or night. Many a mother’s arms and heart have ached years on end, giving comfort and relieving the suffering of her special child.”"
  • "Paxton’s family has learned they are surrounded by countless heavenly and earthly ministering angels. Some have quietly slipped in when needed and silently slipped out. Others have been at the door with food, doing the laundry, picking up the siblings, calling with encouragement, and especially praying for Paxton. Thus another special lesson learned: If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters? The offer, while well meaning and often given, “Let me know if I can help” is really no help at all."
  • "One night early in Paxton’s life, we were in the neonatal intensive care unit of the wonderful Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, marveling at the dedicated, undivided attention given by the doctors, nurses, and caregivers. I asked my daughter how we would ever pay for this and ventured a guess at what the cost would be. A doctor standing nearby suggested that I was “way low” and that little Paxton’s care would cost substantially more than I had estimated. We learned that much of the expense for care given in this hospital is covered by the generous gifts of time and monetary contributions of others. His words humbled me as I thought of the worth of this tiny little soul to those who were so carefully watching over him. I was reminded of a familiar missionary scripture that took on new meaning: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”
    I wept as I pondered the limitless love our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have for each one of us, while learning in a powerful way what the worth of a soul is, both physically and spiritually, to God."


  • "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus"
  • "I Am a Child of God"
  • "I'll Walk With You"
  • "Every Star is Different"
  • "We Are Different"


  • Don't Judge a Kiwi by its Cover by Jenny Smith: "Pass around the kiwi fruit. Make the point that the kiwi has a rough, unpleasant, hairy, tasteless exterior. Ask the students the following questions:1) What makes the kiwi fruit seem unappealing? (It's exterior.)
    2) What are some outward features by which we judge others?
    3) Who might be "kiwi people" around us?
    When the fruit has been examined by everyone, peel off the skin, and slice up the inside to share. Make the following points:
    1) Under it's unappealing exterior, the kiwi is an exciting, delicious fruit.
    2) The kiwi is one of God's creations. Do you think God loved it less than a shiny apple or perfect strawberry? Why not?
    3) You may feel you have a kiwi-like exterior. How does God feel about you? Read 1 Samuel 16:7.
    3) People around us might be like this kiwi -- unappealing on the outside. How must we treat "kiwi people" around us? (By looking at them as God does -- focusing the good that's on the inside. Read 1 Samuel 16:1-7)"


  • There are a variety of activities you can do, but keep this great advice (from the experts) in mind:
Basic ideas to share with your child
  1. No two people are the same -- some differences are just more noticeable.
  2. A disability is only one characteristic of a person. People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
  3. Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
  4. Children can be born disabled or become disabled from an accident or illness. You can't "catch" a disability from someone else.
  5. Just because someone has a physical disability (when a part or parts of the body do not work well) does not mean they necessarily have a cognitive (or thinking) disability.
  6. Children with disabilities can do many of the things your child does, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.
  7. Try to use clear, respectful language when talking about someone with disabilities. For a younger child, keep explanations simple, such as, "She uses a wheelchair because a part of her body does not work as well as it could."
  • One way to help children develop empathy is to do (tactfully) disability awareness activities--have them sculpt play-doh or get through a simple obstacle course, or even performing simple tasks like tying shoes or finding their way to the bedroom, but they have to adapt it because they are blindfolded/can only use one hand/foot, etc.  Discuss how they initially felt about having to do it with a "disability," but then focus more on the fact that they used their creativity to find a different way to do it, and it still got done--beautifully! Focus on the beautiful and positive things that come from various disabilities--like sign language and braille, and the special lessons mentioned in the talk.
  • There's a story from the Friend (Tin Pot, 1998) about a girl who helps a boy with disabilities...and she learns that it's the flower that matters, not the pot you put it in.  (An object lesson, too!)  You could also (especially for younger children) find some books from the library about children with special needs and read and discuss them.
  • For older children/youth: Allow family members a few minutes to find a scripture of either someone with disabilities coming unto Christ or of a prophet expressing concern over his weaknesses (there are quite a few to choose from!).  You could show pictures from the Gospel Art Kit.  Discuss how the Lord takes care of our needs one-by-one, and no one is exempt from His love and compassion.  If we truly want to take upon us the name of Christ, we must deal with people one-by-one in love and compassion as well.
  • Also for older children/youth: Have a Q&A/panel discussion, or invite a family member with a disability to speak (if they're comfortable).  Children have so many great questions, both about the day-to-day stuff and how it all relates to the gospel, and allowing them to ask any questions and to hear about it all straight from the source can really make a big difference.  For example, my niece talks to her class sometimes about what is going on, how it makes her feel, etc., and once the kids can talk about it, they are MUCH more accepting of her differences. 
  • From the sunbeam manual: "Using familiar examples from your ward or area, discuss how to show kindness and love to those who have disabilities. Help the children think of specific ways they might help a person with a disability. How can we show love (or play, etc.) to someone who cannot see? How can we show love to someone who cannot hear? How can we show love to someone who uses a wheelchair or crutches?"  (Really, giving specifics and openly talking about these things takes away a lot of the "mystery" of it all.)
  • For younger children: have popsicle stick puppets or pictures of two children--one with a disability, one without--for each child.  Start by asking questions that get at their differences, such as "this child can use their eyes," etc., and have them hold up which child they think you're talking about...but end by moving into several questions that get at their similarities.  Point out that we all want friends, want to learn and grow and be healthy, have likes/dislikes, things we're good at and things we're not, etc.  Emphasize through this activity that people are more alike than different, no matter where they come from or what challenges they face. 


  • The last picture in the "Service" category on THIS PAGE is a good coloring page.  :)
  • There are some neat quotes to add to your files on disabilities from Church leaders HERE.
  • There is a very practical coloring book free to download HERE that teaches kids disability etiquette--concrete ways to be kind.  Along with that, there are some great activity ideas, discussion items, and book recommendations from the same people HERE--you have LOTS of secular resources for this!  :)


  • Make family superhero tee-shirts or capes! Discuss the principles of ACTION and SERVICE in this talk, and use the superhero costumes as a reminder to act. 


  • Chocolate coins (worth of souls)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting all of these resources together! You may want to add a link to the Church Disability website as well at: http://www.lds.org/disability