Impact Feature Issue on Faith Communities and Persons with Developmental Disabilities

AAMR Statement on Spirituality and Religious Freedom (sidebar)

The following policy statement was adopted by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) in 2001. It is excerpted here with permission:

Spirituality is an important part of human experience that may be expressed both through religious practice and through expressions of personal meaning and values. Spirituality and religious preference should be part of any holistic, interdisciplinary assessment of individual and family needs, interests, and strengths.

Spirituality, spiritual growth, and religious expression are rights that should be honored by supports from service systems and religious communities that respect a person’s history, tradition, and current preference or choice.

Faith communities and other community expressions of spirituality may also need support and assistance to build their capacity to welcome and include people with disabilities and their families.

The need for meaningful supports that respect and honor spiritual needs and religious preferences in both service systems and faith communities represents an important opportunity for partnership and shared responsibility between provider agencies, advocacy organizations, and religious communities.

Training and education regarding spiritual supports for people with mental retardation and their families should be provided within both public agencies and spiritual communities.

The complete text of the policy statement can be found on the AAIDD Web site.