Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vatican Conference to Address Autism

The pope is scheduled to attend a Vatican conference on autism.

I'm sure my lack of invitation was an oversight. :)

Simcha Fisher writes:

If you have a family member with autism, or if you are on the spectrum yourself, what would you say to the Pope? What would you like your fellow Catholics to know about what it's like to a member of the Body of Christ who is on the autism spectrum -- either while you're at Mass or other church functions, or just in general?

I think the Church might do well to recommend that each diocese have a "Special needs" mass, one designed for autistic kids and other kids with issues.

It would be a quick mass, with minimal everything, especially music, homily and incense-- the 20 minute version.

Perfect behaviour would not be expected. Children testing the echo would be normal. Kids reacting to the stained glass would be normal.

It would be at a later hour. Because goodness knows it's hard enough to sleep when you have autistic kids. It could be a Saturday vigil Mass.

I remember one time I took my oldest girl to Notre Dame Cathedral when she was about 5 or so. She decided it would be fun to test the echo.

There must have been a 1000 people at that Mass. Literally. I brought her to the back of the Church, but even in back, there was lots of echo and she was screaming and really have a grand ole time. The usher came in to see what was wrong, but I wondered if he was just annoyed at her screaming.

I took her home after twenty minutes. It was a little embarrassing because of course I'd sat out in the front, so I had to go all the way to the front, with her screaming, get our things, and leave the Church.Nobody was mean to us, but it wasn't a good setting for her.

I don't bring my kids to mass until I think they're ready to sit for an hour. There's no point really, as they have no understanding. I don't feel guilty about it.

If there's one thing I wish the Church would get involved in, it's social services.

There are many, many gaps in social services and autism. It would be great if someone were to found an order dedicated to helping special needs children.

One big gap is the lack of housing for autistic adults, or respite for their parents.

Maybe you remember this story of the mom who left her son at a government office because she didn't know what else to do.

The Church should be active in cases like this. Picture a large house where an order of brothers live, and they take in adults needing care on the weekend, so that parents can recover. Or a housing unit where brothers live, and they live with autistic adults who could make it on their own in the world with supervision.

I think handing all social services to the State was a big mistake. We really do need the Church to fill in those gaps. I sometimes wonder what will happen to my girls when my husband and I can no longer care for them.  If there were an order of nuns who could take them in and use them, say, as cooks and housekeepers, that would be a huge load off my mind.

I'm sure there's a lot more to be done. The Church could play a huge role in helping families with their problems with autism.