Individuals with Special Needs

People with disabilities are God’s special gifts to our world.

Click on the links below to download documents which will explain how your parish can fully embrace and assist these dear ones.

Guidelines for Celebration of the Sacraments for Persons with Disabilities
A resource of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability

Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities
A resource of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability

Catholic Deaf Community 

Adoption: Christian Homes and Special Needs (CHASK)
An organization to encourage families with special needs children to find Christian homes

Prenatal Partners for Life
Dedicated to providing families expecting a child with special needs or a difficult diagnosis, or who have just delivered a child with special needs.  Links families together with similar diagnoses.

Pastoral Statement of U.S. Bishops on People with Disabilities

Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities

National Catholic Partnership on Disability

Mental Illness Assistance

The Archdiocese of Denver is aware of the spiritual and supportive needs of persons with serious mental illnesses such as bi-polar disease, major depressive illnesses, schizophrenia, and personality disorders, among others.  Since mental illness not only affects the individual with the disease but also family members, the needs of the entire family can and should be addressed.

For comprehensive , community-based psychological services, contact: St. Raphael Counseling (855) 377-1359 or (720) 377-1359 – locations in Denver, Littleton, Ft. Collins, Northglenn and Loveland

Practical websites assisting families with Special Needs Children and Adults:

Tenants Rights and Housing Assistance for the Disabled

Managing Your Child’s Transition to Adulthood

Transition to Adulthood: Home Remodeling for Young Adults with Special Needs

Special Needs Checklist: How Disability-Friendly is Your City?

The 9 Most Hazardous Chemicals for People With Special Needs

Vocational Training for Adults with Special Needs


Definition of Disabilities

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disability is defined as follows:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more of the major life activities of an individual such a walking, speaking and breathing;
  • A record of such an impairment;
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment

This is a high-level, very general definition.

It is helpful to be more specific and define the areas of disability more concretely.

A good working definition of the various types of disabilities is found in That All May Worship from the National Organization on Disability.

This document defines seven major types of disability:

Mobility Impairment: A person with mobility impairment has a physical condition that necessitates the use of a wheelchair, walker, cane, braces, or crutches.

Vision Impairment: A person with vision impairment may be totally blind or have such a low amount of vision as to impact normal life activities.

Hearing Impairment: A person with hearing impairment may be totally deaf or hard of hearing to the point that it impacts their ability to communicate.

Mental Illness:  A person with mental illness has a biological dysfunction in the brain that may cause serious disturbances in the way the person thinks, feels, and relates to other people. These are brain-based illnesses that are usually treatable.

Developmental Disabilities: A person with developmental disability has a lifelong condition which may have occurred at birth, in childhood, or before the age of twenty-two.  These conditions that comprise developmental disabilities include: mental retardation, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, sensory impairment, cerebral palsy, autism, and traumatic brain injury.

Learning Disabilities:  A person with a learning disability has a constant interruption in the basic, brain-centered processes that affect listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes calculating.  This person normally has average to above-average intelligence.

Chronic Illness:  A person with chronic illness has an illness that persists for months or years and interferes with the everyday ability to function.  Among the types of chronic illnesses are: psychiatric disorders, HIV/AIDS, seizure disorders, respiratory conditions, diabetes and other metabolic disturbances, head trauma, sickle cell anemia, cardiac conditions, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neuro-muscular degenerative diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, the many forms of cancer, arthritis, chronic back pain, lupus, osteoporosis, glaucoma, retinitis, cataracts, and other visual impairments.