Inclusion Fusion 2012: Technology and Special Needs Ministry

November 12, 2012


Technology is such an important component of special needs ministry.  Many people use it.  The question is, “Are you maximizing the capability of technology?”  I thought I was until I watched Chris Nelson’s presentation on Technology and Special Needs Ministry.

And you know what?  It was free!  I’m “attending” the free online Inclusion Fusion 2012 Web Conference and I’d encourage you to check out the list of over 30 great presentations on all things related to special needs ministry.

Let me give you the highlights of Chris Nelson’s presentation.  Chris is the Ministry Team Leader for the Special Needs Ministry at Traders Point Christian Church.  A rapidly growing special needs ministry.  He is also the Director of Operations at Delivra, a Software as a Service company based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Chris speaks about technology and special needs not just as a professional in the field of technology but also as a father to a son with special needs.

Here’s a few ideas that Chris shared about the use of specific technology:

TV/DVD combo:  Chris encouraged viewers to build a good video library.  Chris stated that they use specific clips of of the Veggie Tales to support their Sunday School/Bible Story lesson.  Chris added that the Shawn the Sheep videos, which do not have any spoken words but only gestures are great videos for calming kids down.

iPhone/Smartphone:  take pictures of kids engaged in classroom doing positive things and text pictures to parents!  This helps parents to see that their child is enjoying himself and puts parents at ease.  For parents without smartphones, take pictures of kids being engaged and show parents when they come in for pick-up.  Another idea is to take pictures of kids engaged in the curriculumprint them out and give them to parents during pick-up.  Chris recommended 2-3 photos per child.

I thought that this idea was especially useful for those of us who have nonverbal kiddos.  They are not capable of sharing with their parents what they participated in during special needs ministry.  Pictures can help their parents to see that their children are engaged and having a fun time.

iPad/Tablet:  Chris shared how he captures 15-second videos of misbehavior when a child acts out.  After the child has calmed down, he then uses the short video clip to help the child to SEE what his behavior looks like and to discuss more appropriate alternative behaviors.  This strategy ties into a strength that many children have: their visual modality.  Chris added that it’s also good to use video to capture when kids behave well so they can SEE what that looks like too (and to show parents!).

Chris shared that we should not be hesitant to use the iPad/Tablets with kids.  Let kids USE them.  Often, there is a tendency to not want to let kids use tablets or limit their use because of the fear of damage to the iPad/Tablet.  He suggested that when you purchase one make sure you obtain Replacement Plan for the Tablet.  This is especially smart for “high risk” situations or kiddos where the tablet could be damaged.

Apps can be great tools too.  Chris talked about a couple of cool apps that he has found very useful.  One was a Pocket Pond type of app (quiet, calming, soothing sounds) Chris shared how he has been able to use this app for a young boy who has difficulties transitioning into the room.  Sometimes with very disruptive behaviors.  The app helps to calm this young boy down.  In one example that he shared, Chris was able to take the young boy’s picture after he calmed down and send it to his mom and dad so that they could see that he had calmed down and know that their son was doing fine.

Make sure you catch Chris’s story that he shares about how he was able to use the iPad to explain the “Peace of Christ” with a young boy who desired to have more peace in his life.

I’ll be blogging about some of the other great presentations so make sure to come back to our blog.  Better yet, why not register for Inclusion Fusion 2012 can watch some of the great presentations from the comfort of your home (or work!).

Michael Woods.


About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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