Church for the retarded

The Church:  The Gifted and Retarded Child

Given the date of this publication I am impressed that someone was actually addressing special needs children.  Although this book might be important in a religious education collection, it really doesn’t belong on a public library shelf for the typical library customer.




  1. First I wanted to attack the anti-PC in the title, but then I saw the date the book was published. I guess it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to the term retarded.

  2. This looks like it might’ve been one of those far ahead of its field books back when published, but now is only barely remembered by the current generation of work in the subject.

  3. What would a child with an above average intelligence need that is different from an “average” child? I guess all my CCD classes in the 70’s and 80’s were integrated, and I didn’t know it!

  4. Laura–my thinking when I read that was that children of above-average intelligence are likely to question some of the logical inconsistencies in Bible stories, which the average Sunday School teacher might not be prepared to deal with. Like if you’re the kid who’s going, “But a whale’s throat isn’t big enough to swallow a person, and anyway, Jonah wouldn’t have had any air to breathe, and if he’d gotten around that somehow, the whale’s stomach acid would have eaten away at him, and…” and the Sunday School teacher is all, “Please, just shut up and color the picture!”, you might be inclined to get fed up and stop going to church when you have a choice.

    Obviously you can have questions about religious teachings and still be religious–Jesuits and Rabbis spring to mind as examples–but I can imagine it would take some special techniques. But I’m just guessing; I haven’t read the book.

  5. I agree with Laura. While a child with above average intelligence certainly needs more in the classroom, I’m not quite sure what they would need extra in religious education, unless it’s that they would potentially be more likely to question things.

  6. @Laura – Adults whom are themselves often of “average” intelligence have a hard time relating to or even recognizing a gifted child.

    Take me for instance – my 2nd grade teacher approached my mom one day and said, “Jami doesn’t think like other children. She’s retarded and needs to be in special ed.” (Yes, she used the word “retarded.”)

    Because of several incidences at my school, including a friend of mine being stabbed by another student with a rusty nail and the principal not allowing him to call his mom, I switch schools for 3rd grade.

    My 3rd grade teacher approached my mom with a picture we had to do of The Statue Of Liberty. Her words were, “Jami doesn’t think like other children.” (Mom started to freak.) “She needs to be tested for the gifted program.” She then showed mom the picture. On the side where SOL is holding up her arm with the torch, I drew her breast on that side higher then on the other side. She then went on to say that “Average children draw her breasts as on the same level. They don’t notice that one raises up when the arms are raised.”

    I was later tested with a 140 IQ. I know people have a hard time believing that because of my poor spelling and math skills. However my reading comprehension was beyond what many of my teachers could handle. It always upset them when I noticed things that they never had in years of teaching the same material.

    So yeah, the gifted child has a need for understanding that many adults just cannot grasp.

  7. Hmm…my CCD teachers just told us that we have to take things on faith when anybody questioned Bible stories and such. Perhaps that was the easy way out, but maybe I was just lucky to get such folks. On the other hand, my mother’s family was a big Irish Catholic one with nuns and such, so nobody would think of yelling at me to just color my page.

  8. @Laura – Well, I wasn’t raised Catholic and I went to public school but I figured the story still fit. Some adults just don’t “get” children smarter then them.

  9. Alex – You just described the reason I stopped going to church at age 5. My Sunday school teacher got completely fed up with all my questions and assertions and told my mom I was a problem child. So I took my questions to the Reverend who gave me equally unsatisfactory answers but at least didn’t seem annoyed (most of his answers amounted to “Well what do YOU think?” to which I replied, “I don’t know that’s why I’m asking YOU”).
    At that point I told my mom that I wanted to sleep in on Sundays because people got annoyed whenever I asked questions…truth be it told the whole thing wasn’t working out for me.
    I was convinced before that I had the best mom in the world but when we started staying home I was quite sure.

  10. I’m actually rather impressed with this title, for the time it was published. My son and I have been turned away (politely, but clearly turned away) from RE courses because he has autism and their Sunday School teachers are unprepared for any child who isn’t “normal.” I’ve found a number of books published in the last few years covering this topic, but had no idea something like this was published so long ago and actually bases its concepts on evidence, not just faith and prayer.

    It also didn’t surprise me that they included gifted with other special needs; in education programs, gifted education is covered along with learning disabilities and physical handicaps.

  11. Oh, yeah, I gave the sisters and priests some fun times in Catholic grade school in the 70s. Fortunately for me AND the teachers, I was part of a clump of particularly gifted kids who arrived all at once (a half dozen of us, in a cohort size of about 60, so we made a noticeable splash), so they had to get their acts together and figure out how to deal with a bunch of little brainiacs. They couldn’t just dump the one smart kid in a corner with next year’s textbook. 🙂

    That said, I find it amusing that the book lumps both types of “special” kid together. “That one can’t learn his Bible verses, and that one over there keeps arguing with me about the interpretations! Help!”

  12. Even “average” children have questions about religion, though. When my sister was about 3 years old, she asked our minister if Baby Jesus wet the bed. Kids always want to relate what they hear back to their own experiences and issues that concern them.

  13. Kaeli – I have no idea what your religious affiliation is, or where you live, but there are people out there doing religious education for special-needs children. The one I have heard of is SPRED:

  14. @WeedingGirl – My mom told me as a child that Jesus “experienced everything regular humans experienced, so he even had the croup as a baby.”

    My mom’s teachings about Jesus used to tick off my Sunday school teachers whom preferred to think of him as too good to even go to the bathroom. But according to my mom’s teachings, Jesus would’ve even suffered from irregularity from time to time. So he could know the human condiction.

    I came to the conclusion that a lot of the Bible is allegory and misinterpretation – some of the latter being on purpose. After all, if you go way back you can find references to God as “the mother” as well as “the father” of us all. So I can totally see some woman-hating priest removing all references to God as a “She.” I don’t question God’s existence, seen too many things that to me proves there is a God. I just question what human beings, whom are flawed, say God wants. For all we know God could just want us to discover the perfect way to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

  15. Kaeli–True.

    Is it bad that it bothers me that they’re combined, though? I mean, if you think the difference between an average 100 IQ and 140 is bad, how much more drastic is the difference between 140 and 60? Sure, they’re the same level of different from average, but they are WORLDS apart from each other. I realize that by combining them they aren’t saying they’re the same, just that they’re both different, but seriously, what do they have in common beyond that? When you have a 10 year old who can barely recognize letters and a 6 year old who can read real books with ease, what would ever make you think they should be dealt with the same way? One requires lots and lots of repetition, the other requires lots and lots of new materials of increasing complexity and on a variety of subjects.

    Well. I guess both require patience.

  16. And by “the difference between 100 and 140 is bad,” I mean that it’s significant. I’m not quite sure why I used bad, to be honest.

  17. it’s not the p.c. crowd you are offended by the use of the word retarded. I never understand where the p.c. argument holds any water. It’s really about listening to people with special needs. They are saying that they detest the word retard. Surprised? They actually get when people are mocking them and are asking you to stop. Why isn’t that enough.
    On another note I don’t get why someone even posted a picture of this book. What’s the point?

  18. Our church began ministering to children (and the families of said) who at that time were medically labeled “retarded.” The time would be close to the publication date given. At this time doctors were still recommending parents institutionalize the “retarded” child so the family could “go on with their lives.”
    Our church let a few moms meet and start a school for their children at the building. Later the moms were able to start a public school affiliated school for them in an unused country school building. I grew up with these kids as my Sunday School classmates and took them as a matter of course. I, in fact, got in trouble for hiding one of my friend’s shoes during SS, because he had been throwing them.

  19. @jami: I’m blanking on the exact chapter and verse (and the exact wording of the passage), but there’s a part in the Bible where we learn that “food goes in, poop comes out”. I remember saying to my wife “Awesome! Even Jesus pooped!”

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I have Asperger’s, so much of the Bible just doesn’t hold up to my logical way of thinking.

    God’s able to create the entire universe out of nothing, yet he requires dust to make Adam. Apparently that must have been all of the special “human-making dust” God had, because he couldn’t use whatever dust was laying around to make Eve. So he has to rip out one of Adam’s ribs for that (yet no rib-removal needed for the female animals). There are still people to this day who think that men have one less rib than women (newsflash: they don’t).

  20. Okay I’m breaking my no-comments stream to comment on this one:
    I have an IQ of 148 and stuff like this IS needed to know how to deal with kids.
    I cannot tell you how many times my parents have out and out threatened me with punishment(I’ve had teachers do it too!) when I ask too many questions that they don’t know the answer to, and they get overwhelmed and upset.
    Luckily I did get a lot of answers in college(Go science-anthropology classes, go!), but I can imagine a less….steadfastly inquisitive child succumbing to the “don’t ask questions, shut up” mentality that most adults have when it comes to me.
    That said, I’m not sure a -religious- book is really the best place to tackle something like this. A lot of times religion just gives the “well that’s why you take it on faith, little timmy.” answer and that was always the same answers my parents had–“just because” or “because I said so”.

    Even as a kid I knew that was an unsatisfactory answer. Needs new information and SEPARATE books–the two are nothing alike, even if they both need special attention the attention isn’t the same type.