People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities* have the right to choose their own expressions of spirituality, to practice those beliefs and expressions and to participate in the faith community of their choice or other spiritual activities. They also have a right to choose not to participate in religious or spiritual activity.
Spiritual or religious activities are seldom recognized as an important aspect of life or included in individual planning for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Some individuals may need assistance to participate in their chosen spiritual activities or faith communities.
Individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families also face a mixed response from faith-based communities, even though many faith communities have established model programs and strategies for including people with disabilities. Spiritual resources and faith communities are an underused resource in the community for people to exercise choice, develop relationships and social networks, demonstrate respect for cultural and family backgrounds, and serve others.
Board of Directors, AAIDD
July 18, 2010
Board of Directors, The Arc of the United States
August 23, 2010
*“People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities” refers to those defined by AAIDD classification and DSM IV. In everyday language they are frequently referred to as people with cognitive, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities although the professional and legal definitions of those terms both include others and exclude some defined by DSM IV.