A Part or Apart? Disability and Inclusion in the Faith Community Photographs and Discussion Materials by Jane Strauss
A Part or Apart?  Disability and Inclusion 
in the Faith Community
A Part or Apart?
Why is it even a question?
Our family and others are families with a difference -- but not too different.  In many communities, based on recent statistics, we make up 20% or more of the population.  We have family members with disabilities.  And we are often excluded from the parts of the community -- churches, syna-gogues, and mosques -- that many see as including all believers.

    This exclusion takes many forms: "please do not bring your child back to Sunday School. She is not able to be mainstreamed"  in a situation in which boys whose parents were on the Board were jumping on the tables, and she was only flapping her hands and walking around. Or "Maybe your child is not ready to be here"  when the child can not learn how to be there without being there....or "wouldn't your family be happier in a different congregation?" Never mind that the child excluded from Sunday School was mainstreamed in all other settings and has since earned a BA with honors and an MA with high honors, and works for a corporation whose HR has no idea she was ever thrown out of Sunday School.

 

"....you have done an absolutely wonderful job with the entire book. You've used several appropriate examples from Islamic texts and teachings perfectly in context and with obvious respect."   

            Emma Apple, The Muslima's Oasis  
"Using images to speak beyond mere words, Jane shows us how those with autism and other conditions can -- and must be -- a part of the community rather than apart from humankind. A must see and read for anyone wishing to learn more about successful inclusion of those with differences in our society."
 Stephen Shore, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor of Special Education, Adelphi University
 Internationally known author, consultant and presenter on issues related to autism

"This thoughtful study guide, like the book it accompanies, appeals to both the intelligence and the heart and addresses a previously unmet need.  Its flexibility, inspiring outlook, thoughtful questions and great selection of supplemental readings make it ideal for faith communities and others seeking to include and appreciate all kinds of people. Thanks for writing it!"

Karima Vargas Bushnell
Adjunct Professor, Metropolitan State University
Sufi Muslim, and Circle Guide, Nur Ashki Jerrahi Circle of Ishaq

"I have not seen anything like Jane's work in the disability field...Jane connects with people on an emotional level and moves them to think about their own behavior and actions."

  Shelly Christensen, Program Director, Inclusion Program
Jewish Family & Children's Service of Minneapolis

This is a black and white image of a young teen boy having his face painted to look like Spiderman.
This is a large black and white image of a young boy looking closely at a Torah yad or pointer made of silver.
   A Part or Apart  grew out of our family's experience -- and maybe yours, or your cousin's, or the family down the block.  It and its coordinated study guides pose the questions many don't think to ask, of how, when people are held to be made in the Divine image, those who are different are widely held to be lesser, and they and their families excluded.  It also asks what we can all do to effect change, and create faith communities in which all can participate and be included.
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   "In my opinion this is a *must* to explore and read for everyone .. ...Inclusion is only as difficult as those who haven't tried to create it make it be... Hats off to Jane, and we all are blessed to have someone with such deep insight combined with determination to pull this together in such a poignant manner... not many    things leave me at a loss for words upon reviewing them... initially this did. I have not seen anything done in this manner previous but certainly look forward to more to move the hearts and minds of those that truly can make quite the difference if they choose to. Beautiful job, exceptionally well done, and a very much needed tool, long overdue in *all* our communities."   Marlene Steckel, Advocate, Philadelphia, PA