A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Of Autism and Worship

Should a church get a restraining order to ban the attendance of a family if they have an autistic child who appears uncontrollable?

What do you think?

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7 Comments:

At 6/5/08, 4:00 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

Doesn't it depend a lot on whether you believe the reverend or the family? They seem to have widely varying stories.

 
At 6/5/08, 4:53 PM, Blogger Fred said...

No. If it's a problem, then accommodations should be made. I have a hard time believing a church would do that.

 
At 6/5/08, 10:52 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

As the parent of an Autism spectrum child, our church has been our home and sanctuary. They have opened their arms to us, and treat our child with kindness and respect. That's what a church is, a family of believers. Families don't kick out members just because one of their kids happens to be born with special needs!

 
At 6/7/08, 12:14 PM, OpenID kherbert said...

People deserve to feel safe in their church. That means they aren't spit on, knocked to the floor, don't have their started and gunned without their permission, and young girls are not forced to sit on the lap of a 13 yo young man.

The family needs help, the child needs help, but the safety of other children should not be sacrificed because of this child's needs.

Accomendations have been offered but the family's demands are impossible to meet. THey don't want anyone sitting in the pew with them in front of them or behind them.

Catholic Masses are often packed to the rafters as is and this family wants to take the space that could easily sit 30 - 40 people.

This family needs intervention before the child faces criminal charges for assaulting someone.

 
At 6/7/08, 1:19 PM, Anonymous rho said...

AFter having two autistic young men in the same class period this year, I think differently about this than I would have a few years ago. One of the boys is very big, is preoccupied with violence of any kind, and believes that if someone around him is doing something wrong, he should "take care of it" as he says. We have tried all year to get him to understand that he is NOT to take care of it, as he has tried to hit and take down a few kids. He is also stalking a girl two years younger than he is; writes her letters, calls her, and she is afraid of him. We are all fearful of a time when he sees her with her boyfriend and what he will do. None of this makes him a "bad" boy, but it does make him dangerous as he does not have the ability to understand what we are trying to get hiim to see. That part of his brain just doesn't work.
So I would say, after seeing how big the boy in the church incident is, that other people's safety and peace in church DOES matter- the attitude I got from the parents of the autistic boys was almost that their kids had MORE rights than the other kids.
With more and more autistic kids being mainstreamed in our schools without sufficient aides and help, this all is going to be a big problem. I have downs' syndrome children in my regular Eng I classes, without sufficient in-classroom help (she has an aide who makes sure she is safe and gets to classes, but is not able to help her much academically-more like a babysitter than anything else), and I am supposed to modify everything for that child, give her all the help she needs, and still teach the other 30 kids in the room, many of whom also need a lot of help, or who are behavioral problems. We have an excellent school for children such as these, where they learn real skills and have lots of staff to work one-on-one, but because of transportation issues, the parents won't send the kids there. It makes me glad I am near the end of my teaching career and not starting out!

 
At 6/7/08, 1:25 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

After reading all of the information provided at the link, a few things stand out:

1) the church claims that they have offered all sorts of accommodations. I don't know if that means that they have multiple masses each Sunday, but the first thing I would have tried if I were the priest is to get them to come to a smaller service.

2) the sheriff went to the trouble of meeting her at her driveway to inform her that they were going to enforce the restraining order, of which she had already been served. That is significant.

3) No one is listening to the young man with autism! He is having anxiety attacks during the Mass. In my experience with children with autism-spectrum disorders, especially those with limited communication ability, these meltdowns mean something-- it is their attempt to communicate. And this family resorts to TYING HIM UP at times. Good Lord! I think that is an indication that he is not getting adequate therapy, and that they are not getting the help and guidance that they need.

They are probably exhausted and overwhelmed, and in a time like that, church is more important than ever. But it would be nice if those who constantly demanded accommodations from others would also consider the needs of those who are being affected. But, obviously, they do not have control of him, because they are not trying to really understand him.

 
At 6/20/08, 11:32 AM, Blogger Goldie said...

First of all, hi, I'm coming back after a two-year blog break, good to see everyone again.
I agree with you. I wrote a post on your post, but decided against it. Bottom line you're right, accomodations should go both ways and there were ways to resolve this peacefully, if the family had cooperated just a little. Also wanted to add, as you may remember I have a son on the spectrum who has shown incredible improvement lately, but was having problems when he was younger - I would die of shame and humiliation before I let my son pose that kind of threat to other people.

 

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