All people have a need to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of their life. How a person does this is individual. I would not presume to know all the avenues available for the development of his/her spiritual aspect, but it is important a person be given the opportunity to do so. I realize there is room for improvement in all aspects of the person’s life with a disability, but at least there is acknowledgment by society of the importance of the physical, psychological, emotional, and social needs. I agree as would most people these are essential to the health and happiness of a person with or without a disability, but if I added spiritual, would people agree to its importance or list this as a minor issue. I imagine it would be a mixed response, but it should not be, by not addressing the spiritual aspect of an individual, he/she will not be able to achieve his/her optimal in the other areas of life. It has been stated not only in religious circles, but in medical and scientific research, when a person’s ‘well-being’ is addressed an energy helps in the healing process. Well-being is the spiritual aspect of the person, if it is easier to relate to by using well-being, please feel free to replace the word spiritual with well-being if you like.
People working in disability rights, and agencies delivering services to people with disabilities, may not share this view of spirituality, seeing the complete person as physical, psychological, emotional, and social. Because of this view, agencies both public and private are violating the rights of the individual. At times, agencies both public and private use ‘separation of church and state’, or it is listed as a ‘subtopic’ under ‘leisure activities’, or as a therapeutic alternative to choose reducing its importance, or even eliminating it all together. If given the option to choose I believe the majority of consumers would give service providers a list of ways he/she could develop his/her spiritual aspect. Of course this would mean allowing consumers the option to have a spiritual category as part of their care plans, or service plans with input from the consumer as to how they would achieve their spiritual optimal. Both public and private service providers, members of this society, would have to revise their narrow view of spirituality as church attendance to include a world view. A world view definition of spirituality, can take on many faces, many ways to be achieved. The definition is a holistic approach to life, meaning it has to reflect the culture or cultures of the individual as well as the; physical, psychological, emotional, and social aspects of the person.
Spirituality is defined by the individual needs, not what society defines as ‘well being’, giving the person control on how to achieve well-being. The definition of ‘well being’ includes the inner life of the person, or what makes them both want to smile and cry.
It can be the ability to share what your inner most dreams are with another person, or what energizes you, and then you are expressing your well-being or spiritual aspect. This look at spirituality can be found in various writings at http://en.wikipedia.org
No matter how you define it, it is important in all people’s lives and is not always allowed to grow in the life of the person with a disability.
In order to take a holistic approach agencies both private and public have to ‘hear’ and implement what the consumer’s needs are with openness to diversity toward a person’s life. There are many ways to look at the spiritual aspect of the person and there are many avenues to achieve spiritual growth, just like when approaching other aspects of a person’s life.
I strongly believe the basic rights of people are being violated when spiritual needs are not given the same attention as other needs by advocates or service providers. It should not be ignored just because someone has a different concept of spiritual, or in many cases have decided not take care of their spiritual needs. I equate this with an agency worker or advocate delivering care to a person with a disability stating that they personally do not believe a balanced diet is important, therefore it will be allowed as a topic of concern to the client. Does this sound rather stupid to you? Well, when I hear someone from an agency say that they are not obligated to include spirituality when working for a person with a disability it sounds rather stupid to me. As you may have guessed, I have no patience with individuals within agencies or organizations claiming ‘the best interest’ of the client say there is no need to address this issue. It is an important aspect of the individual’s life and it is a right. The agency must provide resources to address the spiritual needs of the individual, just like all the other aspects of the person’s life, it is the obligation of agencies both private and public to provide these resources or information on avenues to achieve spiritual growth no matter what the individual beliefs of the employees or management.
I am aware there are many people, both in the private and public sector working to increase the awareness and further the understand of the importance of the spiritual or ‘well-being’ of a person with a disability. However, again I must say I believe spiritual or well-being has to be given equal time along with addressing the physical, psychological, emotional, and social aspects of the person with a disability by those that provide services for people with disabilities.