A Special Reason To Be Grateful

Not long ago, a wonderful woman came to visit me at the Apostleship of Prayer. She is helping her son prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation, and she wanted to show me the materials she was using. Here they are:

Adaptive Reconciliation Kit by Loyola Press
Beautiful. The vibrant colors, the simple text, the attractive art--everything draws me in to these materials. They are part of Loyola Press's offerings for students with special needs.

Loyola Press's adaptive kits have been on my mind a great deal this month, because September is the month Pope Francis asks us to pray for people with mental disabilities. My reflection this month is about my own brother, Mark, who enriched many lives through his challenges. And each September morning, as I rise and pray my Morning Offering, I remember Pope Francis' prayer intention, keeping his prayer close to my heart throughout the day. Today I give thanks to Loyola Press for their excellent materials for children with special needs.

Just look at that kit! Granted, I am a kit junkie: growing up, I loved to collect complete sets of things, color-coordinate my school folders, etc. I guess I still do. The Reconciliation kit particularly impressed me with its flip book containing sequential pictures showing the effects our actions have on others. The step-by-step illustrations lead children through a logical, yet heart-centered approach to understanding personal relationships. Honestly, I wondered if every child preparing for Reconciliation wouldn't find this helpful.

After seeing the Adaptive Reconciliation Kit for myself, I went online to Loyola Press to see their other adaptive catechetical materials and was enormously inspired.

Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit by Loyola Press

A few years ago when the Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit was new, Real Life at Home blogger Angie Kauffman reviewed the kit. Here are a few of her comments:
I was really impressed with the thought that went into this kit. It brings up several things that might be of concern to kids with Autism about Communion, that I might not have thought of. In the removable piece “How to Take Communion” board, one of the items is standing in line, for example.
 In the I Receive Communion book, there were two things that I really loved that showed a lot of thought. One is that it tells the children that sometimes the priest gives Communion, and sometimes it is a man or a woman, and then follows that up with “It’s OK. It is still Jesus.” The very next page also acknowledges what I think a lot of parents with kids with Autism (and some other special needs) worry about, “Sometimes I don’t like the taste.” But, then the next page says, “But I eat it all up.”
Kauffman explains in her review that she has a master's degree in special education, and she also has a son with autism. She and I agree the kit is very expensive, but that the quality of the materials and thoughtfulness of the content are well worth the expense.

David Rizzo is the author of this fabulous adpative kit. Here's what the Loyola Press site says about Rizzo: 
David Rizzo is a physical therapist who works with children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. He is the author and presenter of a professional rehabilitation seminar entitled "Autism: Where neuroscience meets clinical practice." David and his wife Mercedes have four children, one of whom, Danielle, has autism and is non-verbal. Dave and Mercedes developed picture-based materials and activities to explain the sacraments to Danielle to help prepare her for Holy Communion.
Loyola Press now also offers an Adaptive Confirmation Preparation Kit, complete with a music CD, conversation starters, and a flip book showing practical ways to live as Jesus' disciple. My oldest son is preparing for Confirmation in our parish this year. He's a junior in high school on a standard academic track, but I'm secretly wishing Loyola Press would send me a sample of this kit so my son and I could check it out. (Now that I've written the words "secretly wishing" on my blog, I guess my secret is out. Your move, Loyola Press!) One of the great strengths of these kits--which is also, by the way, the greatest strength of all excellent literature for children--is how they distill mighty truths and mysteries into their essential elements. I'm sure that looking at adaptive Confirmation materials would bear fruit for even the savviest teens.

Please comment beow if you have used these kits or have suggestions for other ways to celebrate faith with children who have special needs.
Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Matthew 19:14