Jessica Ariela


Children with intellectual disabilities are often treated as having less value. Increased awareness of holistic personhood, however, brought questions to the need to facilitate spirituality in these children, besides facilitating the development of other aspects. Previous studies argued that children with intellectual disabilities have potentials to develop spiritually despite the very few studies addressing the spirituality in children with intellectual disabilities. This literature review, then, aims to explore methods and interventions to facilitate spirituality in children with intellectual disabilities, through a comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the themes drawn from existing literatures and research studies. After the analysis and synthesis process, four themes emerged for intervention methods to facilitate spiritual development in intellectually challenged children, which are: narratives (from Scripture and personal narratives); symbols, liturgies, and rituals; arts and kinesthetic learning; and community, group, and social support. Further research studies, especially using quantitative methods, are encouraged to be conducted in the future in order to assess the efficacy of each method of interventions.


Spirituality; Spiritual Development; Intellectual Disability

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19166/nc.v6i1.1398

Full Text:



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th Ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

Astramovich, R. L., Lyons, C., & Hamilton, N. J. (2015). Play therapy for children with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling, 1(1), 27-36. https://doi.org/10.1080/23727810.2015.1015904

Calvin, J. (2007). Institutes of the Christian religion (Revised edition). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.

Dennis, R. (2002). Seen and heard: Using playback theatre to explore spirituality for people with intellectual disability. Applied Theatre Researcher, 3(8/5). Retrieved from www.theatroedu.gr/portals/38/.../DENIS_Seen%20and%20Heard.doc

Easom, M. & Irwin, D. (2007). Serving learning disabled students in Christian schools: A program management manual for teachers and administrators. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.

Francis, M. R. (1994). Celebrating the sacraments with those with developmental disabilities. In E. Folley (Ed.), Developmental disabilities and sacramental access: New paradigms for sacramental encounters. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

Hauerwas, S. (1995). The church and mentally handicapped persons: A continuing challenge to the imagination. In M. E. Bishop (Ed.), Religion and disability: Essays in Scripture, theology, and ethics. Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward.

Jones, S. L. & Butman, R. E. (Eds.). (2011). Modern psychotherapies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

McRay, B. W., Yarhouse, M. A., & Butman, R. E. (2016). Modern psychopathologies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

O’Hara, J. (2014). Culture, spirituality & psychopathology: Personal reflections from clinical practice in intellectual disability psychiatry. World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review, 9(2), 47-52. http://www.wcprr.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/06/2014.02.47-52.pdf

Park, C. L. (2005). Religion and meaning. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Parks (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 295-314). New York, NY: Guilford Press

Saroglou, V. (2011). Believing, Bonding, Behaving, and Belonging: The big four religious dimensions and cultural variations. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 42(8), 1320-1340. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022111412267

Thomas, C. N. (2008). The relationships between cognitive deficits and spiritual development (Doctoral dissertation). http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.wheaton.edu/dissertations/docview/304818473/ abstract/CD8022FB34D5478APQ/1?accountid=15021

Vogelzang, A. (2001). Liturgical celebration with people with a severe mental disability: Giving the Gospel hands and feet. In W. C. Gaventa, Jr. & D. L. Coulter (Eds.), Spirituality and intellectual disability: International perspectives on the effect of culture and religion on healing body, mind, and soul. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1300/J095v05n02_11

Watts, G. (2011). Intellectual disability and spiritual development. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36(4), 234–241. https://doi.org/10.3109/13668250.2011.617731

Webster, J. (2004). Religious education for children with severe learning difficulties: Constructing a framework, finding a medium, exploring a story. Support for Learning, 19(3), 119-124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0268-2141.2004.00333.x

Zhang, K. C. (2010). Spirituality and disabilities: Implications for special education. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 48(4), 299-302. https://doi.org/10.1352/1934-9556-48.4.299

Zhang, K. C. & Wu, D. I. (2012). Nurturing the spiritual well-being of children with special needs. Support for Learning, 27(3), 119-122. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9604.2012.01528.x


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Jessica Ariela

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

favicon Faculty of Nursing | Universitas Pelita Harapan | Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang, Indonesia, 15811 |