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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Oxygen for Mom

Yesterday's post scared somebody:

Hi Sister, this post has got me worried. My son was baptised, but although I regularly attend mass, (his father doesn't as he is not Catholic and not interested), I don't take my son very often. He is autistic and has limited understanding and no verbal communication as such. He won't sit still for long and shouts out when he feels the urge and tries to run off. Should I still be taking him and explaining things anyway, in the hope that he may understand something. The priest is a little impatient with anyone out of the ordinary, which has put me off a bit.

You have nothing to worry about. You're doing the best that you can. And hooray for you to get yourself to Mass! 

It's just like when you are on an airplane and the stewardess tells you that, should that oxygen thingy drop down, you should put your own on before helping any one else, including your own child. Why would she say that? Because if you pass out you won't be able to help your own child.

And this is EXACTLY like that. You are keeping your oxygen mask on. Taking your son once in a while is as much as you can do.

The people in yesterday's post not only did not put on their oxygen masks, they refuse to believe there is any problem with the plane. You can't see oxygen (and those bags don't inflate). Keep watching your movie. 

They were planning on lying to the priest so they could get what they wanted, a ceremony in which they have no belief, to please an old lady and to quell the fear brought on by a dream. What a sad mess.

I think for you, though, it might help you a lot to go have a chat with the priest.  Many people just have no clue when it comes to autism or the autism spectrum. So many people believe that if you just disciplined your child he would behave himself. That if he won't eat something because of the texture or color, you should just not feed him anything else and "he'll eat if he gets hungry enough".  Not an autistic child. No he won't.

Think about what you need the priest to know. Can you explain your son's behaviors in a few sentences? Don't put him on the defensive. Tell him your concerns about wishing to bring your son to church but fearing that he will become too disruptive. Don't mention the impatience on the priest's part. Let him comfort you. I believe he will do that.

I can understand that you feel put off. You certainly have enough on your plate. But let's give the priest the benefit of the doubt about his level of understanding.  If I were a gambling woman I'd lay a large bet that the priest doesn't understand autism or doesn't realize your son is autistic.

By the way, we've chosen St. Joseph Cupertino as the patron saint for autism.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,
I'm really tired of being nice all the time, and I'm ready to snap and say something mean.

Lynn Reynolds said...

Thank you so much for such an understanding and kind response to this poor mom. Having a son on the autistic spectrum (though not as severe as hers), I can relate to her dilemma.

I would just also like to mention that some churches do have specific programs aimed at children with developmental disabilities. If she continues to feel like her priest would really prefer her to stay home, she might want to contact her Archdiocese and see if they have any information on which parishes offer programs for special needs children.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sister, and thanks Lynn as well.

Katney said...

I am not finding the website I have been to before, but did find this one with a booklet to print out and use with your autistic child. http://www.diopitt.org/pdfs/religious-formation-booklet-children-autism

The one I was looking for has a bundle of resources for parents and catechists for religious education and autistic children. It is from a foundation in New Jersey. I will keep searching, but may not find it till I am home to my own computer next week.

There is a book, too, for parents and others concerned with children with autism and other handicaps in the church. I was reading it and lent it to a godmother of a handicapped child. She would have returned it but lent it to her sister who has an autistic child. Again, I can post the title, but am away from home.

Katney said...

Here is another article with some resources:

Found it! This resource from many faiths is full of help to include autistic children in Mass and faith formation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Katney, I have book marked it.

Anonymous said...

Hi sister! I love your blog and now I finally have a question for you!
I feel compelled sometimes quickly pray for those I pass in my car on the street. Since these people are nameless and faceless to me is the fleeting prayer Even worth it?

I love when an intense prayer moment happens and words just start flowing. Does the quick intercessory prayer carry the same weight as an intense prayer?

And what about perseverence? I feel bad when my intercessory prayers feel so light And insignificant...they lack perseverance, often only one quick prayer offered even if the situation is rather grave.

Am I doing something wrong? I find myself discouraged with intercessory prayer because they seem weak and feeble.