Monday, June 02, 2008

Fearful Exclusion

Mom fights church ban on her autistic son

BERTHA, Minn. - Carol Race thinks it's important for her 13-year-old son to be in church on Sundays for Catholic Mass.

Leaders of the Church of St. Joseph once felt the same way, but not anymore. They say Race's autistic son Adam is disruptive and his erratic behavior threatens the safety of other parishioners.

The northern Minnesota church has obtained a restraining order to keep Adam away, an action that has been deeply hurtful to the Race family and has brought them support from parents of other autistic children.

This isn't about a boy who might be disruptive. It's not even about the safety of the other parishioners.

It's about ignorance and fear.

If any of these so-called "Christians" actually knew anything about autistic children, I don't think this would even be happening. But why else would they go so far as to obtain a restraining order against a 13-year-old boy? They are sending out the message that children of special needs are to be feared and excluded from "normal" society. When the parents objected to being shut away like they had something to hide, the church immediately went and obtained a restraining order.

Now personally, I wouldn't have brought the boy to church in the first place. He's the same age and (from what I can tell, reading the article) ability level as Syrina. And I know she would find sitting through Mass damned near tortuous. She would get stressed out, and so would I, and what would be the point of that?

But I can't help but see, from what was said in the article, that this is all about the stigma and fear regarding children with special needs. Oh no, we can't have an autistic boy around normal people! They might catch cooties or something! (/sarcasm) They're not afraid that he's going to hurt anybody, they're just afraid that they might have to look at him. They might have to see an imperfect child. They might have to be reminded that life isn't always fair, and sometimes shit happens.

But they're also going to be missing out on seeing someone with perpetual innocence. Someone who will always look at the world with wonder and almost always brings happiness to those that know him.

And yet my mother wonders why I don't go to church anymore. Heh.

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