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  • Writer's pictureAna Barraza

Multisensory Prayer Altar

You might be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of tackling praying at home with your child(ren) with special needs. I would like to walk you through a practice I have used in my own home to anchor our prayer time. Hopefully, you will make use of it in your own home, too.


An altar with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jesus and four candles with an open Bible.
An altar with Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jesus, Bible, and candles.

GETTING STARTED

A good practice is to set up a multisensory prayer altar that your child(ren) can interact with making use of all senses. For this, you will need a small table your little one can reach. Other options could be using a coffee table, a large plastic bin, or even a big cardboard box. Next, set the table up in a quiet corner, or any other quiet nook that is in sight but not on the way. Maybe next to their beds or at the end of a hallway. Now, you could place a piece of cloth as a table covering or make one out of felt (no sewing required!). You could even match its color to the liturgical calendar’s. Maybe you just leave the table bare. See what works for you and your little one(s).


Plastic crucifix from the end of a plastic Rosary.
Plastic cross with beads.

IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Next, gather up some of the following items so your cutie(s) can touch and handle them. They might be sturdy or soft enough for their hands depending on your child(ren)’s likes and needs:

  • a wooden Cross or Crucifix;

  • a battery operated tapered or votive candle;

  • a Child’s Bible or a Bible board book;

  • a cord, plastic, or big beaded Rosary;

  • a little statue or a doll of Our Lady or a saint:

  • a laminated holy card of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Trinity; and/or

  • a small bell or child’s percussion instrument.

TIME TO PRAY

That is it! Now you are ready to use this prayer space either throughout the day or every morning/night to teach your child(ren) one new prayer item by modeling and/or guiding their hands. For instance, after everybody is ready to start the day or go to bed, gather at the multisensory prayer altar. Introduce one of the items with a simple prayer from your heart that could be said about such item. For example, “Thank you, Jesus!” or “Jesus loves us very much” while you take the Crucifix in your hands. Then, pass it to your child(ren) or help them hold it while repeating the phrase or signing it if you use ASL (American Sign Language) with your child. Keep adding items and simple aspirations to your prayer moments each week/day as you see fit.


ENCOURAGEMENT

Remember that God made you the parent of your child(ren) giving you specific graces for the beautiful mission of leading them in their prayer life. May the Holy Family be your inspiration and strength as you set up your very own multisensory prayer altar for your little one(s) with additional needs.

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