Monday, August 18, 2008

Spiritual Inclusion: What are your experiences?

A recent article, Disruptive behavior by autistic kid stirs furor, discusses how a priest in Minnesota recently banned a 13-year-old boy with autism from his church after parishioners complained about his behavior. The priest claimed that the youth was disruptive and dangerous, although the boy's mother felt that the congregation's claims were exaggerated.

The article goes on to discuss a broader issue - when is it/isn't it OK for people with autism and other disabilities to be disruptive in public? What responsibilities do parents have to the public at large, and what responsibilities do congregations and other facilities have to include and accommodate persons with disabilities?

An article in the Oregonian, Portland houses of worship try to include challenging members, offered a local view of the issue. This article was quite a bit more optimistic, and features examples of positive inclusion of both children and adults in worship communities in the Portland area.

What has your family's experience been in the spiritual arena? Have you been able to include all your family members in spiritual practices, rituals, places or worship? What kind of comfort have you found - or wished you could find - by such inclusion?


Anonymous said...

When we moved here and I met with our pastor, I explained Brian's situation. He was very accepting of our family and wanted to help us in any way he could. We've had some trouble just getting Brian to church (that's another story), but the leadership (youth pastor and pastor) are very accepting of our situation. I like the idea of creating a 'job' for him. I will have to think on that!

As far as other situations, I think the one mom said it best that "we all play in the same playground". I try to 'push' Brian as much as I can, but then, I also realize that if Brian's level is pushed 'too far' then it makes everyone else's experience miserable, then I do remove him from the situation (and do more prepping next time). I want him to be accepted by his normal peers and experience things they do, but I also realize that Brian has unique circumstances. I also hope to 'teach' parents that, their kids are going to have to deal with kids on the spectrum in the future. How else are the kids going to learn how to deal with people who are 'different' if they don't have to deal with them everyday (ie. inclusion). Obviously, I am a HUGE supporter of inclusion.


Carol said...

It's such a balancing act, isn't it? What I find most frustrating is when I THINK I have adequately prepared Sayer for an outing but it turns out differently than I expected. Lately, situations that I anticipate will be challenging are easy, and the ones I think are no-brainers turn out to be very difficult.

Pam said...

Hello, to our family, involvment in a church community has made a huge difference. The help is way beyond the worship service: we have had pastors attend IEPs with us (school people and I have to say, myself, behave nicer around clergy), we have had church members attend planning meetings, we have found peer buddies to come to our home for our son, and a retired minister has met Geoffrey on Saturday mornings for a walk for nearly two years.............I do recommend that families pitch in, too: my husband has helped with teen car washes, I have volunteered on committees and in nursery, etc.
I would also like to invite our audience in Vancouver,
Washington, area to what my church calls "Open Sanctuary". It is like an open house that runs for three consectutive weeks on Wednesday nights starting on September 17. 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm., drop in anytime within the hour to visit and make friends and participate (if you wish) in small labyrinth walk and craft. First Presbyterian Church, 4300 Main Street. Hang in there, everyone, Pam

Carol said...

Thanks for your ideas, Pam. I never thought about having someone from a church or temple go to an IEP meeting but that's a great idea!