About us

The Religion & Spirituality Division of the AAIDD (American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, formerly the AAMR, American Association on Mental Retardation) is an interfaith, interdisciplinary association of professional ordained and lay people who journey with persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

Our Mission

Our Mission is to share resources which foster opportunities for spiritual growth for persons with developmental disabilities while respecting their religious identity.

Our Goals:

  • To foster inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities and the sharing of their gifts and graces in the total life of the congregation and community.
  • To provide a forum for dialogue to creatively foster religious education programs that are life long and age appropriate.
  • To work cooperatively with all divisions of the AAIDD to enhance the spiritual supports available to persons with developmental disabilities and their families.


People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have spiritual and religious interests, needs, and gifts, but too often do not have the opportunity to express those parts of their lives. Agencies may overlook the importance of spirituality for their consumers, or not be able to help them be involved in religious congregations and other spiritual activities. Congregations of many religions often fail to welcome and include people with disabilities in their worship services and programs. It is the responsibility of both support agencies and religious organizations to work together to help provide the opportunity for spiritual and religious expression, depending on the choice of each person.




  • David Morstad
    Founding executive director of the Bethesda Institute, serving as its Senior Fellow until 2015, AAIDD Fellow.

Executive Committee:

  • Katie Anderson, Executive Secretary
    Spiritual Life Coordinator, Cedar Lake
  • Tara Clark, Financial Secretary
    Spiritual Life Coordinator, Cedar Lake
  • Deborah Fisher, Psy.D
    Strategic Change Consultant 
  • Rev. Rosemarie Newberry
    Chaplain, New Lisbon Developmental Center NJ
  • Dr. Sarah Hall
    Associate professor at Ashland University, AAIDD Fellow

Past Presidents: