Abstract

Although religion and spirituality have received relatively limited attention in the literature addressing people with disabilities, each is strongly associated with a host of positive outcomes, including enhanced quality of life. One way to participate in religious activities and enhance spirituality is to participate in a faith community. In this article, we report findings from a survey of 416 parents exploring the ways in which they and their children with disabilities participated in their congregations and examining factors associated with participation and inclusion in those communities. Consistent with findings from general social surveys, the majority of parents indicated their faith was important to them and many—along with their sons or daughters with disabilities—participated in congregational activities. Although parents reported their sons and daughters with disabilities participated in somewhat fewer types of activities than they did, this involvement occurred most often in activities involving peers without disabilities. However, parents generally were not satisfied with the level of supports provided by faith communities, and they highly valued a welcoming and supportive attitude by the community. We discuss implications for extending inclusive efforts into congregational contexts and suggest future research directions.

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