Counseling Those With A Disability

Today's guest blogger is Anne Dryburgh. Anne is a missionary in Flemish speaking Belgium since 1991 doing evangelism and biblical counseling.  Her post today involves counseling a woman who has a disorder called Dyscalculia, an inability to comprehend mathematics or a dyslexia with numbers. Our counsel reaches into every area of life! 

Sue was the youngest of three children. Her older brother and sister were top of the class and excelled in everything. Mark became a medical doctor and Karen a statistician. Sue, in sharp contrast, could not do simple mental arithmetic or read musical notes. Her siblings, mother, classmates, and teachers ridiculed her. Their frustration and disappointment were clear. Sue cheated her way through school. To compensate for her inabilities, she became the class clown.

Into adulthood Sue believed that she was stupid and lazy. If only she would work a bit harder, then she would “get it.” But she never did. She could not understand recipe measurements, read music, or travel directions. She believed that she was stupid.

Then, aged 57, she had a eureka moment. Someone asked her if she had ever been tested for Dyscalculia. Sue had every symptom of this disability. At age 57, her whole life experience fell into place. At last she understood. She wanted to grieve for the way that she was treated as a child. Now she knew why she was different to everybody else.

Sue can have a new life ahead of her. This will require seeing herself as God sees her. It means that she is not the village idiot and is not less than others. Instead of accepting other people’s judgment of her, and behaving according to this judgment, Sue needs to only believe what is true of her in Christ and to live in a holy way. It will involve learning to relate differently to those people in her life who are used to treating her as stupid and pushing her around.

Sue can accept that she has a disability. She will never be able to do certain things and can get help to make the most of her situation. She also has an opportunity to become more Christlike by dealing with her heart. She will need to face and deal with the underlying anger and resentment toward those who treated her badly. She may need to talk to them, explain her condition, and forgive them. Rather than trying to win people’s acceptance by people pleasing, she can love them in Christ. She has hope in Christ that she can handle her disability in a way that glorifies Christ. Now she can think about herself and relate to others biblically, understand why she has these problems, and can deal with the frustrations involved. 

Anne was born in Glasgow, Scotland.  She presently meets with a number of women individually, helps with Bible study groups, and is involved in a counseling center. Her training involves a BA in biblical counseling, an MA in Christian counseling, and am pursuing a Phd in biblical counseling, all from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. Anne is also a certified biblical counselor with I.A.B.C.