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Autism and the Holy Communion April 16, 2011

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, autism diet, humor, religion, special education, special needs.
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It was a tough year of religious education with “C”. Many cold and snowy Saturday mornings. Many bouts of his OCD with the doors making me crazy. One sweet old doormat lady 1:1 volunteer who was totally useless ill-prepared for working with an autistic kid.

There are 3 special ed boys making their communion this year out of the class of 12 kids. Because of his many food allergies, there would be gluten free Jesus on the big day! Thank God…I thought I’d have to make my own Jesus and have to admit I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Out of all these kids, mine is the only one known to the parish priests. No, not because I was a good Catholic who brought him to Church every week so he’d get used to it. I didn’t. I was weak. I caved to the public “skunk eye” pressure after one incident where he threw up down my back after a crying fit at Mass as a toddler. Yes, you can get the skunk eye in Church.

They know me, my husband, and our son because our daughter has attended the parish school for 8 years. And since I am one of those parents who volunteers for everything up at the school, they know us well. Which makes the following tale even harder to tell.

Cut to the Communion rehearsals.

The doormat, bless her heart, has no control over “C”. (He immediately sized her up last fall and zeroed in on her weaknesses. She was doomed.) I decide not to intervene to see if she could guide him through this rehearsal. Big mistake.

You see, “C” is obsessed with doors, so just getting him to walk into the church (instead of repeatedly opening and closing the big glass entry doors) is tough. Of course, if you blow that, you’re sunk and he will spiral into a fit of non-compliance. The other problem is that his sister acts in local community theater, so to him, the altar’s raised, 4-step platform is just a big stage calling to him. Loudly. And he can’t pass a stage. Not without bowing, anyway.

So, he breaks away and goes up on the altar! He is taking a bow to imaginary applause. He is even holding his arm up and out behind him, like stage actors do to give props to the pit orchestra. Just great…

Now it becomes apparent that I have to go get him down. As I head toward him with the look of death a serious face, he runs behind the altar and, looking up at the 80 foot tall crucifix hanging above him, blurts out “SUM OF A B-I-I-I-I-T-T-C-H”.

Could you freakin die? Seriously.

And I’m standing up there asking myself what the hell I was thinking putting myself him through this sacrament. Sure it’s funny now. It really is.  I have my own issues with God and the “why my son?” thing. So why is it that this Communion is so important to me, I wondered, while dragging my holy terror off the altar in a headlock.

The second rehearsal was more of the same. With a sprinkling of him declaring to the congregation “Face it. I’m just not good in church!” Ugh.

So when Communion day arrived, I was a wreck. I’d warned the handful of family and close friends (who still don’t really get it) of how bad it could be, in the custom invitation I’d sent out. I worried big time about the fancy navy blue suit, crisp white dress shirt, and (gasp!) tie and (another gasp!) dress shoes. He is, after all, a kid who can (and does) undress himself in 5 seconds or less, every chance he gets. I envisioned him coming down the aisle barefoot,  in his wifebeater undershirt. I also worried he’d spit out the “church food” as he called it. Yep. Church food.

Turns out, he made a fool out of me. Walked down the aisle like a GQ model down a runway. I mean, he really worked it. He sat through the whole four hour Mass like an angel. And when it was time to receive his gluten free Jesus, he was precious. Took a couple little bites and swallowed hard like they were stuck in his throat. I had his shoulder in the Vulcan death grip the whole time, but his curiosity over the church food trumped the appeal of the stage. Take that, you Skunk Eyes.

God truly has a sense of humor.

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Comments»

1. Rhodolite - April 17, 2011

That is hilarious. Kids in general are hilarious. I remember, eight years ago, a middle school boy in my eldest daughter’s class who I think was not special needs responding to his church teacher’s question

“Do you know any good songs?”

with the chorus of The Drinking Bone.

I’m glad y’all survived Communion!

2. infertilerevolutionary - June 25, 2011

my sister is profoundly retarded and takes off her shirt in public all the time. it’s less amusing now that she’s 30. i used to be very embarrassed by this but now i think there is a lot of value in exposing “normal”people to people like her.

hopeauthority - September 30, 2011

Sorry for the delayed reply. I love the tone in your response and its message. I see my daughter feeling as you do when her brother is 30. At 13 though, its still hard for her, but I try to look at the wonderful character-building that has come from all this. She’s a remarkable, compassionate, loving sister. And while she may be embarrassed at times, she would defend him to the death if someone even looked at him wrong.

3. mtaheny1 - February 23, 2016

Best. Autism. Story. Ever!

hopeauthority - April 9, 2016

Thanks! It’s one of our favorites. Of course the time he pulled Santa’s hat off was a good one, too…


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