Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A tough decision

I saw a news story yesterday about a Catholic church that had to file a restraining order on an autistic 13 year old boy. The boy was causing so much disruption to mass that they felt like that had to do this for the safety of the rest of the church. The boy had knocked some people over and had hit another kid (along with some other highly disruptive behavior).

The news story was slanted toward feeling sorry for this family who could no longer attend this church. As I watched, I thought to myself, "What would I do as a leader of the church in this situation?" This is a tough decision!

How do you care for this boy's soul as a creature made in the image of God AND protect your church members at the same time?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. These are things we need to think through together as we seek to serve people for the glory of God.


Shannon said...

I really don't want to be the first one to comment on this, but I will go ahead and state my humble opinion. I think the parents of this child have been irresponsible. It should never have come to this. I cannot imagine the challenges that come with raising an autistic child, so my heart goes out to this mother. But surely she should accept her son's limitations. The best I can compare this situation to is a parent sitting in church and letting an infant or toddler cry during the pastor's sermon. Out of respect for the pastor and all those sitting around, the parent should exit the sanctuary until the child is quieted. I am 100% in agreement of children being in church with their parents. But we should always respect all those around us. This situation is far greater than a crying infant. This is a 225 pound person who is capable of much more than being an interuption. I would suggest that the family members and friends alternate staying home with the young man.

laura said...

having a brother-in-law with special needs (he has downs syndrome) has given me a little bit of insight into how difficult it is for parents raising a child with different needs than the rest of us. these parents need to be embraced and discipled as much as anyone does. granted, keith rarely has problems where he interupts at church or has problems, but i know when he was younger this was more of an issue for my in-laws. the mother in this particular story did push her child too far by expecting that he be able to sit for a long period of time, etc. and appologized for the time he struck a child. exiting during a disruption is exactly what the mother should be doing when her son disrupts- and i don't know if it mentioned that in the story. i can't imagine insisting on a restraining order, though. what kind of message does this send to the community? to God's children- He made that child! perhaps staying home is the only good option for this family (taking turns keeping the young man) but so many people are blessed when they are able to demonstrate God's love to "the least of these"- my daughter has an autistic child in her class at sunday school and i know that there have been difficulties with his behavior in the past. did i take her out of the class because of it? no. i have gently explained to her of her friend's limitations and that God made him that way doe His own glory. she is quick now to help her friend- hold his hand to calm him down(usually doesn't work with autistic kids, but does with this one) and quick to include him in activities and games with other children. i am so thankful that his parents bring him to church- he is a joy (difficult at times!) but we have learned so much from this family. ok, i'm off my soap-box.