Free to Dance: What the Church Should Know About Disabilities


Seventeen-year-old Samantha Jackson sits alone in her living room, making sounds only she understands. Samantha has severe autism, a developmental disorder that manifests in many ways, including the inability to develop language.

“Because she can’t communicate well, she gets very, very frustrated,” her mother, Karen, explains. “As you can imagine, that was even worse when she was younger.”

When we ask her if she has had any negative experiences with Samantha in public, she erupts in laughter, wondering where to begin. Karen may laugh now, but dealing with this behavior is no joke.

Seven-year-old Ty Jessop also has autism. His parents share their experiences on a video blog – like the day Ty had a meltdown in the middle of an Ikea store – on the floor, screaming.

Once she was able to get him to the car, his mother, Katelynn, could barely speak through her tears.

“Oh my Gosh, you guys,” she sobs in the video. “That is like the worst, like the worst experience and I can’t… I know it won’t be his last meltdown, and I know that it’s normal, but it’s just so hard.”

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Dawn Goeb