Autism in Church: What Would Jesus Do?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by heartoflesh, May 21, 2008.

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  1. heartoflesh

    heartoflesh Puritan Board Junior

    There's been a big to-do over the last week here in the Twin Cities about a Catholic priest barring an autistic child from attending mass. The "child" is actually 13, weighs 225 pounds, struck a child during mass, fought efforts to restrain him, pulled an adolescent girl to his lap and revved the engine of someone else's car, among other things. The priest claims they had tried working out a solution with the family, but after the family repeatedly ignored any attempts at a reasonable solution they were forced to put a restraining order on the child. The family tried to show up anyway and the sheriff had to get involved, and now it's a big local story.

    http://www.startribune.com/local/19085694.html?location_refer=$sectionName


    Anyway, I added "what would Jesus do" because this has been quoted in defense of letting the family and the boy continue attending, in the same fashion as before with no restrictions. What do you think? Should he stay or should he go, and yes, what would Jesus do?
     
  2. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Great question.

    First off, Jesus would probably heal him if it was back in the day of establishing the coming of the Kingdom.

    It's important to note that the boy is not being prohibited from worship because he has autism, he is being prohibited because his parents can not or will not restrain and control him. Whereas he is a danger to himself and others and disrupts the orderliness of worship, he should be kept from worship unless or until the parents can find a way to control him.

    If I had a leadership role in this church, (it's Roman Catholic, fat chance of that) I would seek a volunteer or volunteers to go and set with this boy while his parents worshiped. This way we seek to fill the needs of the parents to worship. The priest can also go to the house and administer the sacrament to the family.
     
  3. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    Yes, I'm quite sure this will be snatched up as preventing him to worship because he has autism. The ACLU will be along swiftly to infringe upon their religious rights and promptly breed their lovely brand of persecution.

    What Bob said sounds good to me. It seems as if they've already attempted this, only to have the parents ignore them. What it seems like is the parents are trying to be self-made martyrs in order to sue the Roman Catholic church and get some money out of them for NIED or something like that.
     
  4. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS in this and any person who claims deffinately what Jesus would do is insane and most likely made a fake Jesus in his/her mind. I would hold to the same principal that most presbyterians do: if the baby is crying they leave and take care of him/her until he/she is calm. If the child is acting up he has to be taken out. at 13 and autistic its nearly impossible to control him/her (in a traditional church setting like that). This is why I tend to be cautious about being very zealos about the regulative principal.
     
  5. danmpem

    danmpem Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know if the parents are really trying to be "self-made martyrs". My mother used to direct a preschool for children with autism for many years; some families have endured so much trouble from society and various institutions just because their children have autism that when a legitimate issue is raised, such as the child being mainstreamed into a classroom or brought to church, it is immediately treated as discrimination, intolerance, or harsh indifference. While some parents might treat the situation as something it is not, it's understandable for me that over many years of only encountering that sort of thing, that the parents would immediately react if it were so.
     
  6. puritanpilgrim

    puritanpilgrim Puritan Board Junior

    It's really difficult to tell what should have been done without more information. I work as a behavior specialist and one of my students is autistic. A 200lb child is very difficult to restrain. I'm not saying the child's behavior can't be worked out. It is just much different from dealing with a normal child. It's not a easy as just spanking more, grounding or taking things away. They have difficultly processing reality. Honestly, I wish he was in my class so I could work with him.
     
  7. heartoflesh

    heartoflesh Puritan Board Junior

    I generally agree that it comes down to whether the person is a danger or a distraction. Which begs the question: Do we have a right to eliminate distractions, and if so, what qualifies as distractions?
     
  8. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I think the child should not be there until a solution is worked out. Maybe some RCC who specializes in special-needs issues can earn some merit helping these people. ;)
     
  9. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    This is interesting. My Wife and I have a Nephew with an illness that has part of an autistic spectrum.:popcorn: Would love to here from some PB Pastors.
     
  10. Quickened

    Quickened Puritan Board Senior

    You know when i initially read the opening post i thought i had the answer. After reading through this thread and really thinking on it I can see how wrong i initially was.

    I like bob's response of having some people sit with the boy as the parents worshiped. I think that is a good start. Anything after that is really beyond me.

    I was initially thinking that he should be removed from the situation but what do i know. Good posts in this thread
     
  11. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I wonder if he's able to read and benefit from social stories. Someone could write one for him about church and what's expected there and why. An interesting catechism problem, but it's the wrong church.
     
  12. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    He should be on some serious medication. If they cannot control him by other means that is just all there is left. Even if you train them to the best of your ability from very young, once they hit puberty it is a whole new ball of wax. If he does something really harmful it could be really bad. (Of Mice and Men)
     
  13. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    * Giving a BUMP * due to the interest my Wife and I have on this, again I would like to see some feedback from Pastors. (Ignore the fact this case is a Roman Church.)
     
  14. Vonnie Dee

    Vonnie Dee Puritan Board Freshman

    I have actually been in a similar situation. Except in this one the family was looking for help during the service so they could all worship and church wasn't work like everyother activity they attended.

    At the time I had worked for about 6 years as an aide for children with special education needs. Sometimes this included a child with Autism. One thing that this set of parents did was ask for help and then provide as much guidance as needed to see success in this partnership.

    This child was super sentive to sensory stimulation. If the lights hummed too loudly or the children in class were too loud, he would crash. However, thanks to his parents cooperation we knew his signals and were able to remove him from the situation before he got to the place where the child in this story you mentioned was.
     
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