Accessibility, Special Needs

Special Needs Thursdays: Pagan Words

Being a parent of 2 kiddos with special needs, I want to write about that some, and I feel like picking a day of the week specifically for it is probably the best bet. This will likely not be an every week feature, but more an “as things come up” feature. Of course, if you have questions or are looking for Pagan-friendly resources for your children, let me know, and I’ll include your questions in my next installment


Communication is a big deal in our home. Neither of my children (Acorn, now 6, and Leaf, now 3) speak many words, and the words they do say are often unclear to people who don’t know them. We have all been learning sign language, but that has both pluses and minuses. We’re currently working with electronic communication devices (much like the device Stephen Hawking uses to speak), but it’s a work in progress.

I was not sure whether to be amused or angry when Leaf got her new device this summer – this was the religion page (2 photos so I could get everything):

wpid-20140811_200542.jpg   wpid-20140811_200548.jpg








Our speech therapist, who is Catholic, was actually kind of offended. If you’re Jewish, you get Rabbi and temple (not even synagogue). There are common Christian prayers, 3 different Christian religious leaders, and lots of Christian terms:

church, choir, God, communion, offering, angel, Bible, hymn book, crosss, pray, kneel, greet, praise, preach, and baptism.

I almost wish it was more like Acorn’s device he’s borrowing from the school district, which has nothing religious at all.

I’ve been working with others in a group (Pagans for AAC on Google Plus if you’re interested) to put together a set of Boardmaker images, and now I need to figure out how to get them on the devices.

Our current list includes:


Green Man, Herne, God, Goddess, Thor, Odin, Moon goddess


Beltane, Samhain, Imbolc, Ostara, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, Yule


Maypole, Altar, Candle, Chalice, Wand, Incense stick, Incense, Athame, Censer, Cauldron, Herbs, Book of shadows, Work book, Mortar (and pestle), besom/broom


Ritual, Elements, Priestess, Priest, Yggdrasil, Moon, Full moon, Sun, Pentagram, Pentacle, Witch, coven, circle


I know there are words we’re missing. I know that we will figure them out as we go along, but it’s still painful to suddenly need a word that they can’t say. Acorn’s current device lets us add words on the fly by taking photographs of them, so that’s a possibility too. We’ve printed these items out as individual picture cards for use at home around our family altar to help reinforce the vocabulary.

This sort of thing can help adults too – anyone whose voice doesn’t work the way most of ours do (whether through illness or injury) can use a device or pictures to communicate.

Anyone else have children with complex communication needs? How are you teaching Pagan topics?

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2 thoughts on “Special Needs Thursdays: Pagan Words”

  1. We had this issue when my youngest was little. She’s got CAPD (central auditory processing disorder) and is extremely dyslexic. Now though I’m finding issues for myself. I use a Speach to Text Program sometimes. I talk and it types. It does not recognize any terms that are not Christian or Jewish. None. It leads to frustrating typos and spelling errors.

    I’m really worried because I’m going to be doing Nano in November and I wonder how it will impact what I’m going to write

  2. Most of the time, you can train speech to text to handle non-standard words….

    We’re somewhat suspecting that my son has CAPD too, but apparently you have to be at least 8 years old and talk to be tested….and clearly that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

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