Priest Bans Autistic Boy From Church

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, May 20, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Priest Bans Autistic Boy From Church

    Mom Told She'd Be Sent to Jail if She Brought Autistic Son to Church

    BERTHA, Minn.
    May 19, 2008 —


    A Catholic priest has filed a restraining order against the parents of a severely autistic 13-year-old boy in an effort to keep him from attending the church in Bertha on Sundays.

    The Rev. Daniel Walz alleges that Adam Race's unruly behavior endangers others who attend the Church of St. Joseph.

    Race's parents have ignored the restraining order, calling it discriminatory, and Carol Race, Adam's mother, was cited by police and is due to appear in court on Monday for violating the order.

    "He said that we did not discipline our son. He said that our son was physically out of control and a danger to everyone at church," Carol Race said. "I can't discipline him out of his autism, and I think that's what our priest is expecting."
    Carol Race said it all started last June, when Walz and a church trustee visited the Races at their home address the behavior of Adam, who stands taller than six feet and weighs more than 225 pounds.

    In an affidavit, Walz said the church "explored and offered many options for accommodations that would assist the family while protecting the safety of parishioners. The family refused those offers of accommodation."

    Carol Race said the family of seven, which has attended St. Joseph since 1996, typically sat in the cry room or in the back pew to keep avoid disrupting the services and did not hear a complaint from the parishioners until Walz showed up at their home in June.

    Even after the restraining order was served, the family continued going to the church and would leave during the closing hymn to avoid contact with others, Carol Race said.

    The Diocese of St. Cloud issued a statement saying the petition was filed "as a last resort out of a growing concern for the safety of parishioners and other community members due to disruptive and violent behavior on the part of that child."
    Walz said the boy's behavior worsened over time, telling authorities that Adam has been "extremely disruptive and dangerous" since last summer.

    According to Walz, Adam struck a child during mass, nearly knocks elderly parishioners over when he hastily exits the church, spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights when he is being restrained.

    He also one time assaulted a girl by pulling her onto his lap and, during Easter mass, ran to the parking lot and got into two vehicles, starting them and revving the engine, Walz alleged.

    "There were people directly in front of the car who could have been injured or killed if he had put the car in gear," Walz wrote.

    Adam's parents have to sit on him and sometimes tie his hands and feet to get control of him, Walz wrote.

    Carol Race has an answer to each complaint.

    She said her son makes spitting faces but doesn't spit and acknowledged he has occasional problems with incontinence. She says that she and her husband sit on Adam because their weight calms him down, which is why he pulled the girl onto him.

    She also said they do use soft straps to bind Adam's hands and feet on occasion because it calms him, as does the revving sound of engines, which is why he started the cars.

    Some disability advocates are getting behind the Races.

    "It's unfathomable and concerns me that we've taken a situation with special needs and we're making it into the criminal matter," said Brad Trahan, the founder of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation in Rochester, who has asked the bishop of St. Cloud to rescind the restraining order.

    Carol Race just hopes the ugly back-and-forth doesn't tarnish the image of the church.

    "The church isn't bad," she said. "But it's what some individuals do within the church."
     
  2. B_Mademoiselle Rouge

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    I saw this news story. I dont know the whole story but i do know that this child hasnt had the proper therapy to deal with his extreme form of autism.

    There are ways to get through to these types of children if they are approached early enough with consistent intervention.
     
  3. ManlyBanisters

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    *Waves hands in the air in horror*

    Oh no no!! A priest did something that some people think is unreasonable. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!

    Look, I feel for the kid and his parents but if the parents can't control a 225lb 6' person from the kind of aggressive behaviour described, in public, then they should immediately seek help in getting him to a stage where they can control him and until then they should stay home with him.

    Do they take him to the cinema? Would there be an outcry if a cinema manager sought a barring order against someone behaving that way, would that be reported in the same way?

    And the 'headline' is sensational, "Priest Bans Autistic Boy from Church" - but then we find out this is not some little '6th sense' looking kid but a hallumphing great person of 6' and 225lbs - he's got be at least 15 - the very fact that they don't report his age would suggest to me that he is at the top end of what one can call a 'boy' - late teens anyway.

    Sensationalist bollocks - I'd be well unimpressed if there was a similar situation in my church and the priest didn't take action.
     
  4. Principessa

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    The boy in question is 13 years old.
     
  5. Ed69

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    This kid needs some help/therapy before he's allowed out in public again.
     
  6. B_jacknapier

    B_jacknapier New Member

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    I wouldn't want a fat teenager pissing in my church either
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    Maybe it's god's way of telling everyone involved that the church is evil...:biggrin1:
    Perhaps. Most, but not all, can benefit from the right therapy. It's entirely possible that this child was one of those for whom nothing is effective. We just don't know.

    Yank those heartstrings, baby! Wanna rile up the masses? Ban a poor, innocent little waif from Mass!

    If the parents feel that strongly, perhaps the boy should be home-churched. Wanna bet he's in special education classes better equipped to deal with him? What would make the parents think that church would be any different from school, in that respect?
     
  8. ManlyBanisters

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    I stand corrected (on that point). You obviously make bigger 13 year olds than we do. Maybe you should stop putting all those hormones into your beef cattle :rolleyes::wink:

    Still - 6' / 225lbs is a significant chunk of human being at any age.

    What's your opinion on this, NJ? You've posted the story but you haven't commented.

    I still haven't read any background - but in the above article it does say the priest offered alternatives to the family, though it doesn't say what those alternatives were. Perhaps he offered some kind of home blessing / mass etc..

    I wuold agree that it is unlikely the boy is in a standard school environment - maybe there parents figure church is just one hour (whatever) a week and he should be able to behave for it. It seems fairly clear though that he can't. For everybody's sake they should work on that first and worry about bringing him to church later.
     
  9. Qua

    Qua
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    Thank you MB, for sharply nipping the typical "OMG PRIIIIIEEESTTTSSS!" responses that typify reactions to such stories in the ass. I'm so sick of it. Almost makes many Catholics in the U.S. feel they're deliberately put at the wrong end of the political correctness machine.

    "Shit, we've made almost everyone a 'protected' minority or interest group, but humans live on differentiating and hating on those different; comparison andcontrast. Who's left to fulfill the basic human tendancy of contrast? Well, Catholics are conservative [not really, but yay stereotypes...how non P.C.], religious, old, big establishment...everything our movement hates. They'd make a great choice for our scapegoat, since the P.C. movement relies on being P.C. to everyone but those who are white and disagree with the basic notion of political correctness itself."

    God, I hate people.
     
  10. Deno

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    I would think the needs of the greater out weigh the needs of the few ideal would go along way here. Why would the family discount the churchs willingness to offer additional means for them. The shear fact that the family wants it one way and one way only shows that they don't have the talents to deal with an autistic child.
     
  11. HyperHulk

    HyperHulk New Member

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    I wonder where those restraining orders were when the catholic churches found out about the priests who were molesting children? Instead they moved the priests to different churches and never took legal action against any of them. But this kid the go to court for. The hypocrisy will never cease to amaze or sicken me.
     
  12. Deno

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    LOL, maybe they think that people will be afraid he's possessed by a demon.
     
  13. AlteredEgo

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    I wonder what accomodations the church offered. Having a few autistic friends, I tend to believe the mother. Sitting on them does calm them (my friends) down. Restraining them does calm them down. We don't use ropes or straps, but rather a futon mattress. Roll 'em right up in it, and sit on 'em. My friends are functional enough to obtain privacy and ask for this to be done. Sounds like the boy is functional enough to know what calms him, but hasn't yet learned to get those needs met without disturbing others.

    This family doesn't even sit in the main sanctuary, and they leave before the dismissal. (Catholics are supposed to wait until acolytes snuff all of the candles after the priest dismisses them.) What more could be asked?
     
  14. naughty

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    Workin' up a good pot of mad!
    Well,

    If we still have people who think a vegetarian meal is a salad, why should we be surprised at this situation. THere are some who speak of the greater good. They are in church! What a lesson to be learned for tolerance and patience with the disabilities of others. I am sure there are probably members who may be taken aback by his behavior, but perhaps this is an opportunity to reach out to a family who I am sure is already stressed to the limit while trying to give their son as normal a life as possible. Long gone are the days of hiding such children away never to be seen again. I think Rev. Walz needs to read 1Corinthians chapter 13. People generally dont care how much you know until they know how much you care.
     
  15. WifeOfBath

    WifeOfBath New Member

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    There are a lot of complexities to this situation that I'm sure we're not reading in this short article. It sounds like both parties have tried very hard, but they are at an impasse. I understand that the mother of the autistic child wants her son to have a routine (which is extremely important for autistic children) and the same rights as everyone else. I also understand that the priest and the parishioners want to be able to attend church without having to constantly attend to or worry about this child. I don't think either party is exactly wrong here. I think they are both trying to do what they think is best.

    I had a friend whose brother was severely retarded as well as autistic, and it was very difficult to take him in public. He was put into daycare so his mother could work, but eventually he couldn't be kept there because of his needs. I know how hard it was for his mother because she had to work full time and try to care for a child who was a teenager in many respects and a toddler in many others. I also know that he got aggressive at times and he needed a lot of care that he simply couldn't get without a full-time caregiver. Mom tried. The daycare tried. I think this case is probably similar.

    The teenage years are very hard for autistic children and their families. Hopefully as he grows up he will learn ways to cope better as will his parents. In the meantime, there's so much being done to foster education about autism for the general public-- though it seems to stress the young children more than the teenagers and adults.

    It's sad that this situation came to the point where it needed police intervention-- and in that regard I think the mother was acting rather irrationally and not with the best intentions of her family and her son in mind. I understand her wanting to fight for her child, but it seems like this is a battle she wasn't going to win, and maybe she should have tried to find alternatives before she alienated herself and the rest of her family from their church.
     
  16. B_Mademoiselle Rouge

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    I've got to chime in again here

    My child is very high functioning autistic. As an infant and toddler there were many places we couldnt take her because of her outbursts. She had much more severe autism back then. We had a right to take her to church, movie theatre and to quiet restaurants. The thing is, if she had a bad day or a bad "season" we didn't put her in those stressful situations. Not only was it stressful for us and her- we didn't want to put undue stress on the other people around us.

    Now i can take her anywhere with me, but i do remember the days when we had to miss church, leave birthday parties early and leave a restaurant before our food even arrived. It's part of the job- being prepared to up and leave if things get out of hand. It's not the church's job to make the situation ideal for a kid that can't be picked up and removed from a situation like a small child could be.

    His physical stature makes this situation that much more difficult. Male autistic children are more prone to physical outbursts of violence because of their lack of communication is frustrating. He also has what i call the "Lenny Syndrome" (Lenny from Of Mice and Men) where his strength could seriously hurt someone inadvertantly.

    I do not blame the church for putting their foot down. Just because they preach the gospel doesnt mean they have to put up with abuse in the church from a kid that can't be controlled in public. People expect churches to be perfect and to not have boundaries too.

    There is a responsibility on the parents part to ensure their child is the best he can be from therapeutic intervention and ideal parental environment. Letting a child loose like a bull in a china cabinet because it's legal doesnt make it right.

    If you want to have a new understanding about how autistic children can be corraled into behaving with proper techniques....check out the movie below. It really touched my heart. It's called AUTISM: THE MUSICAL HBO: Autism: The Musical
     
  17. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    If ever there were a candidate for home ministering....

    Where is the pastoral service in this very special boy's life?
     
  18. ManlyBanisters

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    Well - thanks WifeofBath and Red for being the voices of reason here. There is probably far more to this on both sides - that's very true.

    Pecker - the priest went to the famility and offered them alternatives - I'm fairly certain 'home ministering' as you call it would have been among the options. Both here and in other countries I've lived every single one of the Catholic Churches I have attended have had a system whereby the priest, or nuns, or sometimes lay members of the parish bring the host (when asked) to the disabled or otherwise housebound members of the congregation. Full Catholic Mass can't be said - but as damn near as they can get it can be done as well. I'd be hugely surprised if that had not been offered to this family.
     
  19. AlteredEgo

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    Maybe it was offered and rejected. That would be very sad.
     
  20. WifeOfBath

    WifeOfBath New Member

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    This is a very important point. I wonder if the mother and father of this boy are truly accepting their son's autism because they are repeatedly trying to push him into a situation that is stressful for him. Sure, at some level you need to push your children to do things they don't want to, but if they truly accept who their son is and what his limitations are, they wouldn't repeatedly put him in a situation that is obviously so stressful that he can't control his outbursts. I think a lot of parents with children with various disabilities want so badly to have a normal child and a normal life, they neglect to see what some of the realities of their situation are. It's simply not fair to the child to expect him to do something that he's obviously not capable of doing right now and put him through so much stress.

    I notice parents of non-disabled children do the same thing. I don't know how many times I've been in a mall and a child is screaming because they are obviously tired or otherwise can't cope with shopping any longer. Instead of taking into account that their kid is 4 or 5 and can't handle all the walking and noise and boredom of the mall as well as an adult can and get out of there, the parents scream at the child for being "bad." It's the same with a quiet restaurant-- sometimes young children simply can't cope with sitting at a table for an hour. As a parent you have to know your child's limitations and work within them. Sure, you have to teach your children how to behave in those situations, but you have to do it at an age-appropriate level.

    It seem like you recognize your daughter's limitations and you've also addressed them so that she isn't as limited in the right way (read: not screaming at her in the mall to shut up). Good for you.
     
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