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6 Ways to Integrate a Special Needs Ministry at Your Church

Intentionally building a program for individuals with special needs provides your church an opportunity to share the Gospel with individuals of varying abilities and allows them to fully grow in their faith. It also lets the families of those with special needs feel supported, knowing their loved ones feel comfortable and confident in their environment, and are valued members of the church family. The church is called to special needs ministry.

The following projects we worked on for Chapelstreet Church’s Masterpiece Ministry and Parkview Community Church show how design can help support a special needs ministry:

Sensory Rooms

These rooms provide a range of stimulating experiences that can be designed for groups or individuals. They can include swings, weighted blankets, mini-trampolines, exercise balls, and squeeze toys. Some sensory rooms also incorporate special visual features, such as lava or colored lamps, water fountains, and dimmable lights.


Chapelstreet Church, Geneva, Illinois

Parkview-Sensory Room

Parkview Community Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

“We have new families come in and check out our space and say, ‘Wow! You made this just for us!’” –Jamie Valenti, Director of Special Needs, Chapelstreet Church.

Quiet Rooms

These small, comforting spaces with soft, oversized furniture provide a calming, peaceful environment for those who might need short-term respite from larger, more active rooms.


Chapelstreet Church, Geneva, Illinois

Soothing lights, sound machines that play various sounds, and essential oil diffusers can be helpful additions for those with visual, auditory, and olfactory sensitivities.

Strategic Check-In Areas

These specially designed drop-off areas allow families to check in with leaders or volunteers in an organized and confidence-inspiring way. These check-in zones can help parents feel less overwhelmed when arriving to church, and give volunteers the peace of mind when working with individuals.


Parkview Community Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Oversized Restrooms

These restrooms are intentionally designed to accommodate wheelchairs and may include adult-sized changing tables. Because of their height, size, and stability, loved ones can manage diapering needs of any sized person.


“You need the right furniture in the room, but you also need space to move in the room.” –Jamie Valenti, Director of Special Needs, Chapelstreet Church.


How you design and utilize your space is crucial in supporting those with special needs, as well as communicating your understanding of their world and your desire to meet them in effective and creative ways.

Each church’s special needs program will be unique and the space should mirror that, so it should be approached with intentionality. Talk with the families and special needs experts to get their advice and wisdom in this area before starting out.

Is your church looking to incorporate a special needs ministry? Let our design experts help you create a space that supports individuals of varying abilities. Let’s talk!

This was a guest post by Lynn Pickard of Aspen Group.  The Aspen staff includes architects, project managers, field superintendents, and other design and construction professionals working together as a unified team. We believe this collaborative approach brings forth the highest level of innovation and integration and creates a true partnership between Aspen and the churches we serve.

Scores of churches have benefited from our ministry-focused planning, design, and construction process. The goal of each church building project is to create a facility that radically enhances ministry effectiveness. I cannot recommend this group enough!!! Click HERE to learn more about this great organization and start a conversation with them today!

This article on special needs ministry originally appeared here, and is used by permission.