In today's twin cities paper, and on a couple of radio talk shows, I read/heard about a situation in a small MN parish, in which a family has been asked (first verbally and now via a restraining order) to refrain from bringing their autistic son to Mass. He is 13 years old, but is over 6 feet and weighs over 200 lbs. He is disruptive and from the accounts I heard could be unintentionally dangerous. Now, I only know what was in the newspaper article, and what was relayed on the radio by the mother of the autistic boy, and of course the opinions of the hosts and several callers. I invite everyone to read and listen for yourself.
The links to the radio audio files can be found in the podcast links below, just click and then look for Dan Barriero and Ron Rosenbaum for 5/17 with the appropriate descriptions-- you can download the relevant audio files. The newspaper story link is also provided below.
Here's my take; I would really like to hear from others. First, the family of this boy seems to be full of love; they are enduring the struggles of having two autistic children and have taken in a foreign exchange student. I think I heard that they have five children. On the radio the mother seems to clearly take her Catholic faith seriously and desires to share this with her son. This really is a beautiful thing. Second, this boy needs (just as we all do) the grace provided by the Eucharist, and thus needs access to it. I cannot really imagine the challenges the family faces, but I believe I can at least empathize with the situation. But...
But, both in the short excerpts in the paper, and in her responses to several callers' suggestions and criticisms, she really did seem to be stubborn about not accepting compromises that involve not having her son attend the Mass, in the sanctuary. This particular church apparently has two crying rooms, and her response was that her son becomes even more uncontrollable in the "open spaces." (?) She also indicated that her son would not do well if they tried to change the routine that they've established over the last several years. I also think the family has a severe blind spot about how the boy's size and actions affect others and put them in danger. In a really stark example, they let him start the family car after Mass (uh, yeah...) and then he jumped into someone else's car and revved the engine. Her response? He's drawn to engines.
Well anyway, there is more detail, about the priests actions, and the local school system (similar issues), etc. You'll have to take a look and listen for yourself.
The only additional solution I could come up with, was having Communion delivered to their home. I understand the value of having the whole family attend Mass, but there is a common sense point where the needs of the remaining parishioners have to count, too.
Comments or thoughts??