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Good Finds! Terminology for a Diagnosis Manual

November 11, 2010

Diagnosis manuals can be a tremendously helpful reference tool for the team of special needs ministry servants.  Church staff and good hearted volunteers are often unfamiliar with special needs vernacular or common attributes associated with any given diagnosis. Tonya Langdon, Special Needs Director for Skyline Wesleyan Church (Rancho San Diego, CA) developed a manual of common diagnoses for her church’s special needs ministry.  Langdon shares that volunteers frequently refer to the guidebook when a new student enters the ministry or when a ministry servant wants to better understand a particular child’s behavior or needs.  And by simply providing a special needs diagnosis manual an important message of special needs acceptance is emanated throughout the greater children’s ministry.

When developing a diagnosis manual (or any communication piece related to special needs) it is extremely important to use medically correct and socially acceptable phrasing.  Churches may want to ask someone from the special education field for help developing a manual.  In the meantime, I recently found an excellent website that churches may use for the purpose of developing a volunteer training guide or diagnosis manual.  So…today’s “Good Finds!” is a link to the special needs section of  This website provides a list of well-written definitions for many special needs diagnoses as well as a helpful special education acronyms list.’s Special Needs Diagnosis Index’s Special Education Acronyms

Note: Some diagnoses may not pop up automatically in the above two lists.  For example, you may have to type in “Autism Spectrum Disorder” into the search field on the right side of the webpage.  ASD is not included in the above diagnosis index, but the site does provide an excellent definition if you use the search bar. UPDATE:  See comments section below for navigation tips for finding ALL the relevant diagnoses!

In addition, the below link provides brief  (but great!) behavior management tips and other short tidbits related to special needs.  This information might be helpful as a part of a special needs volunteer guidebook.  Be sure to properly credit the source if you use it!’s The ABC’s of Behavior Management

From → Resources

  1. Terri Mauro from just emailed me to tell me that Autism Spectrum Disorders are provided in the index – look at the bottom of the second page:

    Be sure to keep scrolling down past the ads and to look to see if there are more pages of diagnoses associated with a certain letter in the index.

    Thanks Terri Mauro and Special Needs Children for providing this GREAT resource!

  2. Lisa P permalink

    McLean has a pretty nicely laid out booklet for their volunteers that goes through different diagnoses also.

    Click to access DifferentlyAbledREV42409MBCwebonly.pdf

  3. Lisa P –

    Thanks for giving the link to McLean’s “Differently Abled” Guide. That diagnosis manual is actually the first one I ever saw – and it is VERY well done. I am so pleased that McLean has decided to make this available to everyone. McLean has invested so much in their ministry and many are receiving the blessings! ~ Amy

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