LDS or Former LDS, Only, Please!


#1

I most humbly request that only LDS or former LDS please answer these particular questions for me:

What is the LDS attitude toward, and treatment of, the disabled, both officially and practically? Does it matter when and how the person became disabled, i.e., was born that way or was permanently injured in a industrial accident, for example? Does the kind of disability matter (Down Syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or deafness, etc.)? Does the LDS church provide services for the disabled?

I am simply asking these questions out of my own ignorance, not to start a fight. Thank you to all who respond in helping me to understand the LDS religious culture better.


#2

[quote=jgcase]I most humbly request that only LDS or former LDS please answer these particular questions for me:

What is the LDS attitude toward, and treatment of, the disabled, both officially and practically? Does it matter when and how the person became disabled, i.e., was born that way or was permanently injured in a industrial accident, for example? Does the kind of disability matter (Down Syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or deafness, etc.)? Does the LDS church provide services for the disabled?

I am simply asking these questions out of my own ignorance, not to start a fight. Thank you to all who respond in helping me to understand the LDS religious culture better.
[/quote]

I am a former LDS. I can tell you that the LDS Church runs it’s own social service agencies in every stake (like a Catholic diocese). Also they long designed their chapels for ease of access–I believe that when the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed, the LDS Church hd very few chapels needing to be retrofitted for compliance. Mormon missionaries have often and for a very long time received at least some training in American Sign Language–not EVERY missionary, mind you, but a significant number do have at least a rudimentary knowledge of ASL.

In Mormon theology all human beings pre-existed as spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and Mother. In the premortal existence, after one of our spirit-brothers, Lucifer, rebelled and led one-third of our spirit brothers and sisters in a rebellion–hence becoming Satan and the demons–those of us who remained held a sort of ‘family conference’. Heavenly Father revealed to all of us great many aspects of His plan for us on Earth and the parts we would all play in His plans. We were made aware that hardships and tribulations would occur as a way of strengthening us and teaching us to rely upon our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. Many of us were told that we would either be born with handicaps or would suffer inury which would handicap us later in life. We actually used this family conference to ‘choose’ our families–our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses, etcetera, and we discussed with one another how we would seek to help each other in the event that one of us knew ourselves destined to suffer some sort of special infirmity or handicaps.

For this reason, Latter-Days Saints SHOULD look upon the handicapped as people whom they freely chose, in the pre-mortal existence, to come into contact with as an opportunity to learn and to grow. They should be kindly and helpful toward them and see the difficulties of the handicap not as a burden but as a blessing and an opportunity to learn and to grow. Of course–LDS vary as greatly as do Catholics or any other group, and not everyone is so patient nor so loving as their Church doctrine should predispose them to be. And, theology aside–some Saints do grow weary or discouraged by such afflictions, in themselves or in those whom they must care for. Some LDS grow neglectful, some may be abusive, and so forth. These are purely human and individual reactions to such situations and the Church would not condone them.

I don’t know the degree to which LDS Family Service helps those with handicaps within the LDS Church. As I understand it, especially outside of Utah and nearby Mormon strongholds, LDS Family Services tends to mainly be a liaison organization which helps Mormons locate other sources of help within their community–LDS/F-S does not itself offer much help, at least not in most places. On the other hand I don’t actually know much about this so mebbe someone else will weigh in with more information. Hope this helps!


#3

I was a very happy member of the lds church for 30 years but I am currently attempting to enter the R.C.I.A program. My oldest son has Autism. I can not speak for the church as a whole but my ward was not very supportive. My son could not handle all the stimuli in sacrament meeting so we ended up siting in the foyer. Since he looks very normal we of course ended up with a lot of the normal stupid comments that happen everywhere. Why don’t you control him. He just needs better discipline ect. When we needed help their was no church services to help us. Not even when we needed warm bodies to help with some of his therapy the ward was not willing to help out. There were no social services available in our stake due to our remote location. The worst incident is when they released his sunday school teacher, and replaced her with a 19 year old inexperienced teacher. We tried to explain james, we offered to have her come over and get some training. James started running away from church to get away from class. He ran away 3 times before we pulled him from sunday school. The first time we found him drentched shivering in the rain huddled in the back of some ones truck in a different parking lot. The second time they noticed right away and he was caught on the main road standing in traffic. The third time was the final straw for me. The teacher did not even notice he had left her class. I was siting in Relief Society when I saw him run by the window. I imediately bolted out of relief society and grabbed him before he got to the river. I asked if I could go to his class. Request refused it would set a bad example for the other parents. I asked that he be given a one on one assistant or that a assistant be called for the class. Again I was refused. SO I took him out of class and we stopped attending church because this running away had become a BIG problem as he started running away from every situation that was bothering him.


#4

Continuing. This habit was so bad that I ended up sleeping on his floor to keep him from running away at night. It took us months to get it under control. Months were I was worried for my sons life almost every day. Again no help or even contact from the church. After all since you can’t see the disablity it can’t be there. My bishop when I requested a meeting told me that parents just need to be more firm and that I was the problem. HOW I WISHED THAT WERE TRUE. The 80 hours a week of therapy was torturous on him and me. I wished that my parenting was the problem because frankly it would have been easier and much less expensive to fix. I would have loved to miss the hours on the bus with a 5,3,1 yr old on my lap as I shuttled from occupational, physical, speech therapies. I had always assumed the L.D.S church would be there for me but it wasn’t I thought I could go to an understanding bishop but he has his own failing and could not be that for me. Eventually I appealed to the stake president after we got the running under control and I wanted to start going to church again. He made the bishop find an assistant for my sons class. It took the bishop 3 months to find someone who was willing. I am not sure if it was because no one wanted the calling or he was just hopeing we would go away at that point. His pride had been bruised by my going to the Stake president.


#5

I guess in many ways my story has a happy ending. They called a diffrent teacher for his class who came over and we were able to quickly train. My son not only stayed in class but was her most behaved student. After two months we were able to drop the assistant in his class. I still caught flack from the bishop because my family was not sitting in the approved location for sacrament but I just ignored the request at my temple recomend interview. ALL the therapy has really paid off for us as my son now 7 is very normalized. He is a normal classroom without an aide, and it often takes new people up to two weeks before they detect that he is just a little odd. Life is much easier now that we only have 5 therapy hours a week and have transportation. The good parts about all of the strugles is that it takes allot of stress to even phaze me. I am working as a police dispatcher now and my stress tolerance is so hight that even all the disasters that traumatize a community hardly make an impression. This helps me at my job becuase I don’t get flustered. SO there is no bad that can’t become good. I also got appointed to my States Governor’s council on disabilities and special education where I served one term. So that is my story take from it what you will.


#6

Jodi,
My heart goes out to you with the problems you have had. I think the LDS church does better than most with helping each other, but it always depends on the individuals who are doing the helping. When I was a single mother with 6 children to raise, the LDS church did not do a very good job of helping me and my children to stay active. My problem was that I was hurt by a bishop who was less than helpful, and gave me wrong advice or no advice at all. I left because of my hurt, and my children were not raised LDS because of that. Now 2 are active LDS, and the other 4 are not. After 20 years I came back to the LDS church.
I am the compassionate services director in our ward, and it is a new calling, so I am still learning my job. It is my job to make sure new mothers have meals brought in for their family for at least 3 nights after they get home from the hospital. If someone in our ward passes away, it is my job to make sure they have food for the family after the funeral. This week I had a new responsibility of arranging for sisters to go into the home of a 90 year old sister, who needs daily care with light housekeeping and yard work, until someone can be hired to take care of her. If someone is ill I arrange meals and help for that person.
Of course we encourage people to take care of their own families as much as possible, but we are there if they call, or we see the need. My husband (who is Catholic)had brain surgery April 2003 and suffered a stroke as a consequence, which paralyzed his right side. The Elders quorum and the missionaries came to our home and built 3 wheelchair ramps before he came home from the hospital. All at no cost. When he learned to walk a little with a cane and walker, they came and tore them all down and carted them away. They have handicap parking as required, and the buildings that we have been to, are all easy access.
I think in your case it was a matter of finding the right person for the job, and unfortunately it took awhile. Individual wards and individual personalities make a difference.
It will be the same in the Catholic Church. Tkdnick, has told me his parish has much better music than the parish my husband and I attend. And as far as helping out with my husband’s ill health the Catholic Church has been very uninvolved. It is like we are just one of the cattle, and there is no personal caring. My husband was in a Catholic hospital and even there, his own parish was not notified of his condition. The people that came by were different ones every week and they said a memorized prayer and left a card and went on to the next room. It did not feel like there was personal involvement or caring at all.
On the other hand our home teacher came 15 miles(30 round trip) every Sunday afternoon to visit my husband and brought flowers or a little gift sometimes. Our bishop and his counselors visited several times, and it was always very personal, they knew his name and what we were going through.
I am so glad your problem finally got resolved in a good way, and your son is doing so well now. The best of luck to you in your life and in your search for truth. :slight_smile: BJ


#7

In my experience the church works hard to help those that are handicapped. I was once a counselor in the bishopric and we had several handicapped members in our congregation and we made every reasonable effort to accommodate them.


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