Priest Files Restraining Order Against Parents of Autistic 13-year-old

This story about a Catholic priest filing a restraining order against the parents of an autistic 13-year-old to keep them from attending church on Sundays in Bertha, Minnesota, is why resources like this are more than needed—-and a spirit of inclusion and mutuality.

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    • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

      I wonder why they feel the child’s behavior poses a danger. There were no indications in the article that the child had been violent in the past. Sounds like they are simply afraid because of his appearance and way of being. And that is definitely discriminatory.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      That’s my reading of it too—-the articles kept emphasizing the child’s size and weight as if those should be grounds for him being “threatening” or some such.

    • Billiken

      Wow. So much for “Suffer the children to come to me”. Fortunately, we have found a parish with priests that understand the effects of our daughter’s autism a little better, working towards a first communion. Shameful

    • http://club166.blogspot.com Club 166

      It would appear that this priest needs to go back and read the Bible a bit, in order to remember what he needs to do to be considered a Christian.

      Joe

    • http://theautisticme.blogspot.com/ C. S. Wyatt

      This story is news on local talk radio, on TV, and in the papers. The problems were mounting for some time. Parishioners were shocked, and I believe with apparent good cause, at the two reported incidents with cars and the grabbing of a young lady by the boy.

      Walz alleges that Adam struck a child during mass and has nearly knocked elderly people over when he abruptly bolts from church. He also spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights efforts to restrain him, Walz wrote.

      The pastor wrote that Adam’s parents often sit on him during mass to restrain him, and sometimes bind his hands and feet, pulling a rope under the pew so his father can control the line from behind.

      Walz wrote that Adam once pulled an adolescent girl — an exchange student staying with the family — on top of him, grabbing her thighs and buttocks. And, at Easter, Walz alleged, Adam ran from the church, got into the family van and started it, then got into someone else’s car, started it and revved up the engine.

      Local media have interviewed several members of the church, with quite similar stories. Either the entire church is lying / paranoid, or there is a problem.

      I honestly doubt the people interviewed by WCCO, KTSP, KTLK, et al, are lying to hurt this young man and his family.

      The church officials are refusing comment, which I understand from a legal perspective. However, the membership seems quite unified that there is a problem and the parents were not addressing it well.

      I think it is impossible to know who is “right” in this instance, but I certainly have questions based on the reporting we are seeing and hearing locally.

      At the last presentation I gave a young man with autism said he was involved in a “legal misunderstanding” after grabbing a girl. The boy said his school was also facing a potential lawsuit. Trust me, that’s not the sort of misunderstanding a church wants.

      – from Minnesota
      (I tried to respond via my iPod… but that didn’t seem to take.)

    • http://autismisred.blogspot.com Andrea

      It seems to me that one factor is a lack of understanding on the part of the parishoners and the priest. Honestly, I think it is part of his responsibility to gain that understanding of things like the calming effects of deep pressure in order to help these members of his parish instead of treating them like irresponsible pariahs. We’ve avoided taking our children to church because we fear similar situations – that people will just not get it. The church we’d attend has a great religious education program during services, but I couldn’t dream of leaving him for over an hour.

      Thanks, by the way for posting the info about that publication the other day!

    • http://club166.blogspot.com/ Club 166

      Just because the media report something doesn’t make it so. And just because the majority of parishioners can’t see past the “scary big weird kid” is no reason to think that their perspective is correct.

      Shame on them all.

      Joe

    • TomsMom

      This may sound odd but I can see why some folks–ignorant of autism–would be intimidated by Adam. I expect that folks will be intimidated by Tom as well, who is big for his age (6) and likely to tower over both parents by the time he’s 13. (At the moment, Tom’s capacity for self-regulation runs about 1/2 hour; as a result he has not made it through an entire service as yet, and he will most certainly require quite a bit of accommodation in religious education classes and sacrament initiation most probably, my presence throughout!)

      That being said, I sense that there has been a major breakdown in communication between parents and parish. I do not agree at all with the pastor’s choice of legal action, and I suspect that the “accommodations” (not specified) offered and the parents “rejected” were similarly isolating/ostracizing. On the other hand, I find it surprising that the parents claim to have had no negative feedback from their fellow parishioners–it’s just not believable. Somebody’s complaining, and I suspect putting lots of pressure on the pastor. He should not be taking sides in this but bringing the complainers and the family together to discussion the situation, IMHO.

      Education is the best way to conquer fear and misunderstanding: and it’s not going to help everyone so that pastor had better be prepared to “lose” some congregants who simply won’t adapt. Accommodation also runs both ways: although from the family’s point of view it is reasonable and efficacious for the parents to sit on their 13-year-old son during a service, it’s going to disturb some people to witness that. Plus, as he grows, will it continue to be an option?

    • passionlessDrone

      Why don’t they all just pray real hard to see if God can make it so that the child can get through a service?

    • http://gennaulapedia.blogspot.com Chris Gennaula

      I honestly believe that a disruptive child at a mass is not disruptive in the eyes of God. I also know that judgmental stares during a service can escalate behaviors.

      From the Star Tribune article: “The Races and their five children typically sat in either the church’s cry room or in the back pew to avoid disrupting other parishioners since they began attending in 1996, according to Carol Race.”

      Compassion is needed here. The Star Tribune article suggest that some of the incidences are being blown out of proportion.

    • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com liquid zeolite

      What happens to someone who makes noise and causes a scene at the library? They’re kicked out or asked to leave as most there would like to be able to concentrate, reflect, etc. Same thing for church. People don’t go to the library or church to hear or watch an out of control child. I blame the parents of the Autistic child. They have to realize that their child’s condition excludes them from certain activities. Church, Opera, live performances, etc. They’ll be asked to leave so that the others who are attending can enjoy the performance without interruption. The nerve of this family to press the issue is beyond me and suggests they’re autistic as well.

    • Linda

      The church and the priest could not have handled things worse. The priest at the very least should model compassion and understanding. The parents are not the problem nor is Adam. Church should be a place they can receive unconditional love. Appalling.

      And, the church goers should mind their own business and remember to “Judge not” and “There but for the grace of God go I.”

    • Regan

      Apparently there’s a strong difference of opinion.
      I was going to suggest that this looks like a situation where a good mediator might be of use, but it seems that that was also an unacceptable option. At this point it seems like the court is going to have to unfortunately sort it out.

      The question I have is–does Adam want to be at service in the current form and is the sacrament meaningful to him? Are the alternatives as black or white as drawn on either side? We seem to be arguing rights, but he is the person at the center.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Thanks to CS Wyatt for all that background.

      When he visited the US back in April, Pope Benedict made a “statement to disabled children:

      “God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts…….Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.”

      http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/pontiff_blesses_disabled_child.html

      I think that legal action was not necessary. A mediator could certainly have helped the situation and, of course, more education of all parties prior to things getting to this point.

    • nhokkanen

      I know the mom. She loves her son. She works hard to understand him, keep him safe, healthy and comfortable.

      She has a complicated balancing act. She has worked hard to keep fellow churchgoers safe. Where I work, an elderly woman is hospitalized because a neurotypical person knocked her down at church.

      The mom is listed on the Neurodiversity site for winning a Diocese inclusion advocacy award in 2005… the same year the new priest came to her church.

      The mom knows theology. She asks for Christians to open their minds and hearts.

      She has written a rebuttal to the statements made in the priest’s restraining order. Many situations were misinterpreted because he doesn’t understand autism, and is probably under pressure by passive-aggressive “Minnesota Nice” congregants.

      Perhaps this flashpoint could have been avoided if fellow Christians had simply asked, “How can I help you?”

    • Jen

      According to my understanding of the catholic faith (to which my partner belongs, but I do not, so apologize to anyone if I have misunderstood or give offense) is that you are obligated to attend mass and receive the sacrament of communion. Therefore, the priest is denying this child/young man the right to be in a state of grace, by denying him the right to receive communion. What sin has this child committed (other than having autism) that warrants his being excommunicated? Because that’s essentially what this priest’s actions have accomplished.

    • Redtown

      Let’s be real here.

      “….Adam struck a child during mass, nearly knocks elderly parishioners over…, spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights when he is being restrained. He also… assaulted a girl by pulling her onto his lap and….There were people… who could have been injured or killed…”

      Adam’s parents call his banning from the church “discriminatory”. You bet it is. There’s such a thing as RATIONAL discrimination.

      Of course, “Some disability advocates are getting behind the Races,” just going to show that there’s no end to Political Correctness, all public safety and common sense be damned.

      We’re not talking about general discrimination against all handicapped people here, but just a particular individual with dangerous and disruptive behavior.

      Some people have cited the Bible and God’s love of everyone. But what would Jesus have actually done in this situation? He probably would have affected a miracle cure of Adam by “driving out his demons.”

      Unless this church can affect such a miracle cure, is it unreasonable to ask Adam’s parents to accomodate everyone else’s rights to public safety and undisrupted worship? As it is, it seems they’re more set on making a political point.

    • http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com Joseph

      The nerve of this family to press the issue is beyond me and suggests they’re autistic as well.

      Liquid Zeoline: At least this time around your comment did not consist of off-topic spam, aside from your handle.

      Please refrain from using ‘autistic’ as an ad-hominem attack. That is completely bigotted on your part.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Don’t feed the trolls.

    • http://www.marlabaltes.blogspot.com Marla

      Truly awful. Discrmination indeed.

    • http://autismville.blogspot.com/ Autismville

      Thank you for the quote from Pope Benedict. Says it all…

    • Regan

      National Catholic Partnership on Disability
      (Also other links to other topics)
      The Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities was approved by the general membership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on June 16, 1995.
      http://www.ncpd.org/Sacramental%20Guidelines.htm

    • waxhaw5

      As a Catholic with an autistic child, I am freaked out by this (!) though comforted by the knowledge that our pastor would never act in this way. We have a wonderful sped program for Faith Formation, and had a special mass just for our kids yesterday, which was FUN! I will admit, however, that until then, I had not taken my son to mass since he was tiny because I was worried about how it would go, so I have to give this family a lot of credit for going where I dare not tread. After yesterday’s mass, I was emboldened to consider going weekly, thinking that the repetition would lead to constantly more appropriate behavior. (It’s a huge church, nobody would notice one child yelling, “Don’t kill me!” during reflection, right?)

      In the MN instance, the priest (or an extraordinary minister) should be happy to administer The Sacrament at the parishoners’ home since they are “unable” to attend mass (due to his legal work). I’m sure this poor woman is holding her breath on that one.

    • Regan

      Followup on http://www.startribune.com/local/19059069.html?page=1&c=ythese events

      It all sounded pretty straightforward, until this quote,

      “…Adam’s parents sometimes tie his hands and feet with fabric restraints, which (Carol) Race said is a technique used by other families and school personnel who work with autistic children…”

      I hope that they can resolve this in a matter which can be positive for Adam, the family, and the congregation, but I take exception with the above statement. I think it’s appropriate to talk about what choices they have made for their son, their particular circumstances and their choices, but I would prefer that Mrs. Race not extrapolate mechanical restraint as a technique necessarily appropriate to autistic individuals, and suggesting that it might represent routine practice, esp. in a public context. I sincerely hope the statement was taken out of context, but if not, my critique stands.

    • http://www.retiredwaif.com retiredwaif

      Faith issues and autism are a fairly heavy combination. Bad memories.

      I remember finding the RCIA classes at the university so distressing (due to the antics of a religious educator who was gone the next year–I should have waited until 2006 to get religion!) that I was literally unable to attend, and another solution had to be found. In the end, it was an isolating solution, and left the impression that I wasn’t doing the “real” RCIA, and gave me very little preparation for the actual rituals and ceremonies involved, which resulted in my skipping most of them. To this day I feel I had a pretty piecemeal, barely-valid Catholic confirmation.

      I’m a small, soft-spoken woman who is “high-functioning” enough to pass under the radar most of the time, yet I was constantly told that my issues were “disruptive.” I repeatedly requested one simple accommodation: to be told specifically what would happen at a given class or event, in advance. Week after week, things happened unexpectedly (“Now we’re taking everyone’s picture for a poster!” “Now we’re all getting up in front of everyone at Mass!” “Now we’re going to take turns standing in front of the room and talking about our faith!”) that I could have completely dealt with had I known about them. Instead, I would feel blindsided every week, particularly considering that any stimmy sort of behavior–completely necessary in those situations–would be called “disruptive” and called attention to (we’re talking about little things like rocking, or folding paper).

      I missed every major RCIA event, with the exception of the confirmation itself, at which I was a complete crying nonverbal mess who essentially had to be guided through things, all due to this woman’s inability to let me know what would happen. She also, I later found out, did a lot of asking around as to what was “wrong” with me and if she “had to” include me in RCIA. Bitch.

      I made damn sure not to be in that situation again at my wedding; picture me sitting with the Rite of Marriage book, making up a social story. ;-) It turned out all right.

      My point is that one doesn’t have to look very far to find insensitivity to people on the spectrum in what I believe we now call “faith communities.” I have no idea what is going on with Adam’s parents, their cloth restraints, or these old people who keep getting knocked down in churches. I do know of more than one church where someone in charge has smugly declared them to be “exempt from the ADA!” a statement that is nearly unequalled for sheer missing-the-point. Religiously speaking, morally speaking, and otherwise.

      Kristina, you’re right to be concerned. Autistic males, in today’s climate, are often seen as soulless monsters, tragedies who need restraint. Women, who are littler, get less of this, but from what little I’ve experienced, I can only imagine its impact on a boy.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      The use of any kind of physical or mechanical restraint needs to be considered and applied very carefully and, of course, with the individual circumstances very much in mind. That said, I more than share Regan’s concerns.

      I have been viewing this issue of the priest’s filing a restraining order and the Races’ son’s presence in their parish church in terms of social justice. Because it is a religious house of worship that is under discussion here, I think that the ethical issues of inclusion and equality and acceptance are more in play than ever and I am very uncertain as to the priest’s need to take legal action.

      Being myself a parent who has tried with mixed results to take my son to church, I fully understand the difficulties that the Races have gone through. Most recently, we have sought to prepare Charlie to attend church by careful and structured teaching—a slow process.

    • http://autismspectrumdisorders.bellaonline.com Bonnie Sayers

      I saw a quick segment on the news this morning on this. I think the comment by Regan is the one to focus on. Does this boy understand going to church and does he want to be there. IS the boy verbal?

    • http://mayfly mayfly

      This is a hard situation. Being part of the body of the church is so important. Did they try having an assigned seating near exits, perhaps in chairs separated from the pews? Perhaps the parents could take their son outside at the first sign of trouble for how long it takes before rejoining the service. Did the clergy talk about visiting the family as part of their pastoral duties? Was their any effort by the parishioners to include the family in activities outside of church?

    • Chuck

      “Does this boy understand going to church and does he want to be there. IS the boy verbal?”

      The second question you asked is irrelevant to the first question you asked.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      I think they’re questions that need to be asked as we try to figure out what is going on here.

      From KSTP.com,

      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.

    • Susan M. Bersee

      These comments hit very close to home for my family. We had stopped attending church because our youngest son with Autism could not manage. Then we found a church in our faith that started using their basement as a ” special needs area” with couches, area rugs on the floor so families could attend church via telemonitor. Low lighting, lower sound and other parents that understood our issues. We only go when he is having a good day, we don’t want to disrupt. Our son is also a very big 8 yr old and can get out of control at times. I hope more churches take the idea that there are other ways for families of special needs children to attend church in a way that is comfortable for everyone.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      “Why can’t a high-5 be a sacrament?”

      A theology professor brought this up to us once.

      Goof to hear that there is a way that your son can attend church—-hope different ways continue to be found. Very best—–

    • http://qian2.multiply.com superpanda

      My pastor’s grandson has autism, so it is not a problem for special needs to attend the church. They have very good Sunday school programs and my 5.5 yrs old autistic son loves to go there!

    • Kathy

      I too, can identify with this situation.
      We have a seven year old autistic boy.
      When he was a baby we took him to mass as a family.As he got older however, he became harder to control, and would shout out loud, such lines as, ” We go home now!” at solemn moments, eg the consecration.

      As he had no real understanding of the mass
      and served only to distract and disrupt the congregation my husband and I decided not to take him anymore.
      My husband and my daughter attend the 7.30am mass, whilst I attend the 9.30am one.
      I hasten to add, no one influenced our decision, and fellow parishioners were very sympathetic and understanding to our plight, as was the parish priest.

      However Mark would run up and down the aisles, and even up to the altar at inappropriate times.
      From my observations, it was plain to see that Mark was disrupting people from praying and focusing on the transubstantiation, the crux of the mass.

      Sometimes one needs peace and quiet to contemplate and to pray.I know I certainly appreciate my time alone at mass.

      I have witnessed many a parent removing their boisterous child from the pew and taking them outside for the remainder of the service so as not to disturb and disrupt the rest of the congregation.

      Having said my bit, I do believe it was wrong of the parish priest to obtain a restraining order. Perhaps he lacked the necessary people skills(as well as a lack of understanding of autism)to engage in a positive way with the family, and should have engaged some professional help.

      Seems like a bit of empathy and understanding from both sides would not go astray.

      The fact that six foot Adam who weighs 225 pounds and has to, at times have his hands and feet bound, is to me very disconcerting, as I am sure it would be to fellow parishioners and their children at Adam’s church.

    • http://mayfly mayfly

      Many of these stories of not being able to attend service due to an autistic child are similar to mine. The lack of even trying to accommodate special needs seems unfortunately very common.

      It is good to hear there are churches out there which are devising ways to allow families with special needs to attend.

      It would be nice to have a listing of churches who are accommodating.

      My church, the Bay Area Christian Church, has been very accommodating of special needs. It’s head has a Down’s son and an autistic son. We are non-denominational and believe our Christian duties do not stop as soon as we sing the last hymn on Sunday.

      Someone asked mockingly, “Why don’t they pray real hard?” thus displaying a heart in need of change. They should indeed pray. God often does not take away obstacles, but gives us better hearts to deal with them.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Better hearts, regardless of the giver, would be useful there. There’s something painfully hollow in that kind of mockery. Why think it? Why feel the need to express it in this context? Grasping at confirmation of self superiority, presumably. I’m glad, at least, to know that at least a few who walk among us have managed to divine all that there is to know about the universe and can freely mock others, comfortable in their unassailable pre-eminence. Perhaps someday, they’ll stoop to sharing that knowledge with the rest of us.

      Regarding this situation: I don’t know whose “story” is right or wrong, given the tendencies of news reports and personal recollections, and it’s probably a matter of perspective as much as anything. But the priest was unquestionably wrong to obtain a restraining order against the family. Interesting of him to turn to the civil law when the church’s recent past involving its own pedophilia debacles is rife with decisions to “handle things within the church.” Why could that not have been the case here, when it would have been so much more apropos?

    • nhokkanen

      After warning from sheriff, family of autistic teen attends different church

      By LORA PABST, Star Tribune May 18, 2008
      http://www.startribune.com/local/19059069.html

      The mother of a 13-year-old autistic boy who was banned by a court order from attending services at a Roman Catholic church in Bertha, Minn., woke up Sunday determined to take her son to mass.

      But Carol Race changed her mind when Todd County Sheriff Pete Mikkelson met her at the end of her driveway Sunday and told her she would be arrested if she brought her son, Adam, into the Church of St. Joseph.

      Instead, Race took Adam and her four other children to mass at Christ the King Church in nearby Browerville, Minn. “It occurred to me that if I step foot in [St. Joseph], they will arrest me and I won’t end up going to mass anyway,” she said.

      [continued at website]

      My comment:
      If the mom can handle her son… if another church can handle her son… why can’t the priest and some parishioners at St. Joseph’s?

    • nhokkanen

      Kristina, I’d like to send you the mother’s two letters to media. The second explains particulars in the restraining order, and the priest’s misinterpretations of her son’s behaviors.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @nhokkanen,

      I’d appreciate it if you would—-you can email me at:

      kchew [at] spc [dot] edu

    • Channon

      My guess is that the Race family doesn’t give enough $$ to the church. I bet if they were big contributers then the priest would find a way.

    • http://theautisticme.blogspot.com/ C. S. Wyatt

      From the story, and something discussed more on local radio:

      In an affidavit, Walz wrote: “The parish members and I have been very patient and understanding. I have made repeated efforts through Catholic Education Ministries, Caritas Family Services, and most recently, sought to try and mediate the matter with the family to ask them to voluntarily not bring Adam to church, but it has been to no avail.”

      The CEM and CFS did confirm to KSTP that they tried to offer mediation and alternatives. The expressed concern was, and this is a litigious state, that the boy might get hurt in church and the church would be held liable.

      I know we’d like a perfect world of tolerance, but if the “pressure” on the boy caused harm to him, or if he even accidentally harmed someone else, the church would definitely (without any doubt in my mind) be sued.

      I deal with similar issues at the university level. Having a meltdown is not covered by ADA. Other students can and will file formal complaints. Some have threatened legal action against schools for not proving a “safe environment” and there are documented legal actions against HFA individuals — which is why we have books explaining that some things are always “wrong” and even illegal in public settings.

      I admit my own anti-religion bias, but this is a case of an organization trying to prevent a problem. We might not like that it is necessary, but what if you are the family member of an elderly person who gets accidentally harmed in the future? We’d all like to say, “I’d never sue!” but anger makes people take action.

      I’m sorry, but the church is in a no-win situation: legal risks, moral imperatives, and divided congregation. One of the Catholic groups mentioned special options exist for the disabled. Not being religious, I’m not sure I understand this. But, if it makes the family happy… work within the church system.

      No one is completely without blame in this case, but it sure seems the church organizations were present and involved.

      If they are lying, and the mother is not, then why even want to be a part of the religion? Find a place that’s more rewarding…

      For me, on Sundays that happens to be a grill, some burgers, and sunshine above. All the “church” I need to be content.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      This is a press release from Carol Race.

      ————————–

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2008 Contact: Carol Race 218-738-5773

      Mother of boy with autism barred from mass
      corrects statements from priest & Diocese

      The Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s May 17 cover story featured Carol Race and family of Eagle Bend, Minnesota, with a 4-column headline reading “Church bars severely autistic boy from mass.” On May 9 the Races’ parish priest had taken out a restraining order against 13-year-old Adam, who has autism. This past Thursday Carol Race was issued a citation because she attended Mother’s Day mass with him.

      Subsequent articles on the Races in newspapers, TV and radio also ran statements from the Diocese of St. Cloud on behalf of the Church of St. Joseph in Bertha. Race disagrees with Fr. Dan Walz’s second-hand descriptions, and wrote a counter statement explaining her son’s behaviors in the context of autism.

      · The language in the restraining order reflects the view of a person who does not understand the symptoms of autism. Adam may be large and sometimes physical but he is not angry and violent, and does not spit in church. He exhibits characteristic traits common in people with autism, such as self-injurious behavior and meltdowns when facing sensory overload or when feeling overwhelmed.

      · Fr. Walz used leading language, such as saying Adam has “urinated in church.” However my son did not publicly expose himself, as the term “urinate” implies. Adam has incontinence issues on rare occasion, and these have been thoroughly cleaned by the family. Young children also have accidents. No one knows how many seniors have “urinated in church” – all who do deserve privacy and dignity.

      · Most of the time Adam can walk through a crowd of people in a patient and gentle way. And because our family leaves the church service early, there should not be anyone during these times to “bolt through.” At times Fr. Walz has refused requests to help our son get safely through the aisles.

      · Fr. Walz unfairly describes Adam’s autistic behaviors as “disruptive.” Yet other children often cry or act out during mass for long periods of time. Visually, unless you sit in the back there is no disruption.

      · Fr. Walz refers to Adam’s self-injurious behavior as “dangerous,” saying he “strikes himself in the head violently.” That shows no understanding, and offers no aid. Adam harms no one else physically.

      · When people with autism feel stressed, they may like the sensation of weight or deep pressure to calm themselves. Therapists use weighted blankets and vests. Temple Grandin, PhD, who also has autism, designed a gentle squeeze machines for this purpose. Sitting on Adam’s lap or even his chest carefully on occasion gives him comfort during trying times, and also works to help restrain him during those times that he is melting down or feeling overwhelmed.

      · Sometimes my husband and I need to restrict Adam’s movements to prevent him from hurting himself or his family who sit near him. Other families and school personnel are trained in safe restraint practices. My husband and I place a fleece strip (not rope) around either our son’s wrists or ankles. During these times he is not a danger to those seated around us. If we feel he may be momentarily out of control, we would ask those people to step aside for a few moments, but that would be rare.

      · I do not recall any episode that could be described as such: “[V]ery recently he [Adam] bolted out and had to be tackled by his family. He battered his father as he was being restrained.” In fact, over the past two months, Adam has made almost no noises during church, he has been actually standing, sitting, and kneeling with the congregation. Adam has been attempting to make the sign of the cross, hold hands at the Our Father, offer the sign of peace with those around him, and generally participate like most other people at Mass who do not make the verbal responses.

      · Regarding concerns about our foreign exchange daughter: Julia had been living in our home for six months. She accepted Adam and understood his ways. Fr. Walz misinterpreted the incident he described. Julia was standing near Adam because she preferred to be by him. In an attempt to socialize, or perhaps because she weighed just the right amount, Adam took her by the waist and showed her that he would like her to sit on his lap. She did so willingly, and with a smile on her face. It was an act of kindness on her part. I watched the situation very closely, as did my husband. There was nothing inappropriate about the way he touched her. He never grabbed her buttocks nor her thighs. Consequently we were very shocked to see that false statement in the restraining order. When Fr. Walz reported his version to the County, the report was ignored. The foreign exchange agency, ASA, has a policy of removing any student whenever there is an allegation of sexual abuse, regardless of whether or not it is substantiated. So Julia was removed against her will, against the local ASA rep’s will, and against her family’s wishes in Poland. Fr. Walz’s actions were scandalous to her faith, as well as to my children who loved their ASA sister dearly. I spoke with Rose Hawkins of ASA International, who is willing to answer any questions about Julia. Her phone is 320-732-6075.

      · From mid-June 2007 to present no special accommodations for Adam have been offered to our family, except to watch mass on the basement TV for an indefinite time. Adam has attended mass with the congregation all his life. Changing the routine of someone with autism is not only painful for them, but takes time and effort and in this particular situation would likely result in worse behavior problems.

      · The priest, Fr. Dan Walz, refused to discuss our family’s situation with anyone trained in autism, including a behavioral consultant hired by the parents specifically to help with accommodations for mass. This well-known and experienced behavioral consultant wrote a three-page report with many suggestions; however it was ignored. Fr. Walz also refused to speak with a county social worker who tried to help the parish find reasonable accommodations for Adam’s continued inclusion.

      · The worst of Adam’s behaviors resulted from lack of accommodations or cooperative discussions. Case in point: The car-revving incident. Normally our family left Church before the closing song, which would allowed three minutes before the congregation left. During Lent, Fr. Walz omitted the closing song and failed to ask the congregation to wait to leave until our family had left first.

      · Fr. Walz refused mediation through a local Protestant minister. He refused it unless his only option – Adam not attending Mass – was on the table. I believe that over the past 11 months Fr. Walz lobbied both parish and diocese to approve his plan to bar Adam from Mass. A March 3, 2008 letter through the diocesan Tribunal office stated: “For mediation to take place, however, all things must be on the table to be discussed. This means that the issue of taking Adam out of Mass must remain open.”

      · Fr. Walz’s goal is clear: “I have made repeated efforts through the Catholic Education Ministries, Caritas Family Services and, most recently, sought to try and mediate the matter with the family TO ASK THEM TO VOLUNTARILY NOT BRING ADAM TO CHURCH, but to no avail (emphasis mine). He admits he made no attempts to accommodate for the purposes of inclusion during this process.

      · Fr. Dan claims to have contacted the parish insurer. However I have never seen an actual letter from the insurer nor have the two parish trustees been presented with a copy. Fr. Dan claims it was attached to the RO, however I asked at the court house for it, and they said they don’t have it, either.

      · Canon Law which Fr. Dan quotes has to be interpreted in light of Church doctrine. Church doctrine does not exclude any individual from participation in mass except those who have been “excommunicated” after proper canonical procedure has been followed.

      · Neither the bishop nor the Vicar General have attempted to discuss Adam’s behaviors with the Races; they are relying solely on statements made by Fr. Walz.

      “It is shocking that with Adam’s sustained and dramatically improved behavior that the restraining order would come at this time,” Race concluded. She hopes that increased public awareness will lead to improved understanding of people with autism, social justice, and maximized spiritual inclusion.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      ” In fact, over the past two months, Adam has made almost no noises during church, he has been actually standing, sitting, and kneeling with the congregation. Adam has been attempting to make the sign of the cross, hold hands at the Our Father, offer the sign of peace with those around him, and generally participate like most other people at Mass who do not make the verbal responses.”
      Very sad that he would be excluded from this just because people are uncomfortable. It is my opinion that your church should treat you like family, and the leader of this church seems to have no interest in that whatsoever.

    • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

      He probably would have affected a miracle cure of Adam by “driving out his demons.”

      Redtown, why would you even mention something like this? Don’t you know about the children who have been killed because the “demon of autism” was being “exorcised” from them?

      Autism is not “possession” by “demons”. Your comments are as offensive as the comments by the two Troll regulars, pD and LZ.

    • Reen

      To call this a case of discrimination against someone with autism is wrong. This is a debate over peoples’ rights to worship in a safe environment. While all the behaviors may be typical of someone with autism, his size makes it more dangerous for those around him. By all accounts, the church has offered alternatives (closed circuit tv, private mass, etc.). All of this was rejected by the family because the mother said it was her right to attend mass on Sunday. But a society must balance the rights of all. The sad fact is that we live in an overly litigious society. If someone was hurt by this boy, the church would be the first party sued. I think it is ridiculous to suggest that the church would ban someone just because someone is “uncomfortable”. One can be compassionate, inclusive, and respectful of all human life and come to the conclusion that this boy’s behavior makes it disruptive and dangerous for others to practice their faith.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Whatever. The point here anyway appears to be that the only crime this boy has committed is being large, loud, and scary…he hasn’t actually done anything, it would seem, to a parishioner that would warrant his exclusion from the church, or litigation. And then there’s that whole irony of the church itself cloaking its pedophile priests under the mantel of “church authority” rather than turning to civil and criminal authorities to deal with all of the real, lasting damage done by its servants–yet, it’s OK to run to the sheriff when a boy in the congregation makes a lot of noise.

      The priest involved refers to “mediation” to keep these people from attending church…and please, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that completely missing the whole point of “mediation”? His sole intention with “mediation” appears to have been to keep them out of church, not to compromise.

      Large, loud autistic children and adults scare people. But that doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to do something to you. From what the mother says in the press release, the priest involved has gone out of his way to place what has happened with this boy in the worst possible light, accusing him in the order of “urinating” in the church–which unquestionably is intended to imply dropping trou and committing blasphemy, rather than the enuresis the mother describes–and to otherwise exaggerate events. Regardless of who’s right or wrong about whether or not this boy should be in church, the priest went too far in going to the civil authorities and coming close to having this woman arrested on Mother’s Day, for God’s sake. Very priestly, that.

      Just FYI, Jesus went among and touched the sick and dying, and he willingly placed himself in contact with people who suffered from “demons,” rather than shunning them as all others did. This entire debacle does not strike me as very Christlike. It sounds to me like this priest has a problem, and it’s not the autistic boy in his congregation. Regardless of what the boy has done or what the litigious possibilities are, this Fr mishandled the entire situation egregiously.

    • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

      I hope Carol Race and her family will be able to find a truly loving and accepting church that embodies the true spirit of God, one of loving acceptance, not just tolerance, but real love, the kind Jesus showed for the outcasts of his day.

    • Reen

      Emily says “regardless who is right and who is wrong” and then goes on to blame the priest. Do you really think the priest acted unilaterally in making the decision to file a restraining order? What about Carol Race’s responsibility in all of this? Many parents have posted comments that they have voluntarily taken themselves out of situations that would disrupt others. Parents of ALL children have done this! This isn’t just about disruption. There are several incidents cited that could have resulted in serious injury, including him jumping into the car and revving the engine at full speed. If he had hit the gear shift, there would have been serious injuries. We have heard a lot from Carol Race and now are just starting to hear from others in that community. Living in MN, we are getting a lot of news on this. Adam Race has a history of violent behavior. He also has crashed the family car. It is sad and it must be unbearable for the family, but that is not a good enough reason to risk others safety. Nobody has the right to not be offended or uncomfortable, but that is not what we are talking about here. Something needed to be done when his parents could not control him from coming into physical contact with others. They refused any other means of accomodation. Emily, while throwing out barbs at the Catholic church may make you feel better, it only takes away from the real debate here, which is whether this boy poses a danger to those around him. The priest and many in the parish are saying he does and his mom is saying he doesn’t.

    • mom of 7

      I’m so sorry this has come to this.

      I don’t understand Mom’s statement that there have been no issues within the church for several months and glossing over the danger to many the parking lot about his escape from their control though.

      The restraining order was within weeks of that incident-I can’t help but think that was the catalyst. Not someone else’s lack of understanding of Autism but the expert/parent in the situation. The original care plan-always leave 1st was flawed.

      Maybe I’m not understanding this issue, but I have years of making care plans for severely disturbed individuals to help accomodate their needs.

      Could not the family of the son have been “last” instead of “first” out of church.(the closing song could at any time be omitted at a service)

      Couldn’t the safest option for all involved have been that from the start? We leave last-we love mass soooo much we want to stay as long as we can-we say rosary while the sancturary empties? That way no matter what little changes happen in a service the routine would be constant.

      Isn’t the most humane to that child as well as everyone else to think outside the box of what’s best or easiest for 1 person may not always work if it relies on 1 constancy (a specific song)

      I’m really sorry but it’s the primary caregiver’s job to be enough in awareness of a situation that a disabled teen does not get behind the wheel of a running car in a crowded parking lot EVER. That’s not safe for anyone, the disabled person, the crowd or the caregiver.

      When making care plans for my patients I had to think what if what i’m building this around changes-I sit next to so and so they could be gone, this is MY CHAIR (the chair can break) another patient needs that position because of a strangely positioned brace on their chair etc etc

      The world around a disabled person is not always going to perfectly accomodating even when others try dilligently or have plans to be accomodating. Expecting it to be 100% constant is unrealistic and we have to be on guard when the constancy is disrupted and go to plan b.

      And we live in a world with a variety of people with disabilities and sometimes their needs conflict. We all have to figure out how to meet everyone’s needs.

      When the safety of the disabled person and the safety of everyone else is on the line we have to think long and hard-this is the dangerous situation: fragile elders/small children transversing crowded aisles and busy lots-sensory stimulated disabled person needs to enter and exit. A care plan based upon leaving 1st based upon 1 cue leaves too many cases where disaster could happen-cue missed or omitted, another fragile person is unaware that the aisles need to be open for the 1 family only, the list of disasterous variables is too long to list.

      That’s my opinion anyway.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      It’s the priest who filed the restraining order—who took litigious action.

      From what Carol Race wrote in her statement, there are different versions of events and differing perceptions of them.

      I would say, the real debate is the message that is being communicated about true inclusion of all, keeping in mind the meaning of “Catholic”—from the Greek kath’olou, meaning “universal.”

    • Kathy

      The use of restraints on Adam really bothers me, though.

      This from the Autism National Comittee:

      “Although any one of us disabled or not, may at some point in our lives need to be restrained on an emergency basis, that should only occur when there is substantial threat of injury to self and others. Behavioral restraints are neither treatment nor education.They are merely procedures or methods that restrict freedom of choice and adversely affect the human development of people with disabilities. The use of restraints should be considered a failure in treatment.”

      The family are obviously trying their best to help Adam! However, I am of the opinion that an alternative(to the use of restraints) should be sought to deal with his behavioral issues.It concerns me that Adam may possibly suffer detrimental effects to his psyche, as a result of the use of these restraints.

    • Redtown

      To Storkdok,

      Don’t be so self-righteously offended. I put “driving out demons” in quotation marks because that’s how the people of Jesus’ time thought he’d accomplished some of his healings. I was neither suggesting that autism is demonic possession or advocating exorcisms.

      My larger point was to answer those who say that the church should tolerate this boy’s dangerous behavior because Jesus never turned anyone away. Most of us lack Jesus’ powers of miraculous healings, and are left to more ordinary means to respond to the situation. I doubt that even Jesus would have advised enabling dangerous and disruptive behavior — posing risks to others and self — in the name of “acceptance”.

    • Reen

      Most of the accounts are coming straight from the mom. Carol Race may not be the most objective in this situation. So many are quick to take everything she says at face value. What might not seem dangerous to her, may seem very dangerous to others. The church resorted to a restraining order after she refused any attempts to alternative worship. I am not saying that a restraining order was the right way to procede, but please don’t make this into a Autism rights case. The church has no vested interest in singling out someone with autism. I am a member of the Catholic church and as a parish, we reach out to everyone. However, if someone’s behavior precludes them from being part of the larger congregation, then I think it is the church’s responsibility to make alternative arrangements for that person to practice their faith, which the church did. Accounts are now coming out from the community that the parents can barely control their son. How many close calls need to occur before something is done? It also begs the question, what is Carol Race getting out of mass, when all her efforts are put into restraining her son? If she has to physically sit on her son to get him to calm down, it is a safe bet that she is no paying much attention to the homily.

      Kristina Chew, PhD says that this is about “inclusion” of all. To what logical end??? People are excluded all the time to protect the masses.

      We can debate about whether the boy is dangerous or not, but unless we are part of that congregation, do we really know the full story? I think to take the mom’s account of events is one sided.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Again, I refer back to the basic meaning of Catholic as “universal”—-meaning that all should be included, and there are ways for all to learn, grow, and change in the act of reaching out, especially those who are may be most in need.

    • Reen

      Kristina Chew, PhD, I think inclusion of all is a great and lofty goal. However, there is a moral responsibility to not expose others to unnecessary harm. The parents lost control of their son and he jumped into their car and another car and revved the engines. If that car would have been put into gear (which has happened with Adam Race before) and he would have run someone over, should the priest and the parents be consoled by the fact that they were only acting out of the spirit of universal inclusion? No harm, no foul, we were only trying to be inclusive.

    • http://theautisticme.blogspot.com/ C. S. Wyatt

      The priest in this case, according to the news tonight, asked for the restraining order after being told by members of the lay leadership (what is that? do they have regular members advise church leadership?) they wanted something to be done.

      The priest supposedly checked with regional superiors (who are those? I’m not Catholic, so clueless in a land of Catholics and Lutherans) because this was an action likely to bring attention to the church.

      In other words, the priest was apparently worried enough about the public relations that he hesitated… but still followed through.

      Taking preventative measures is not the same as being litigious. So far this year I have been involved, very personally, in the legal maneuvers of my university after I had a seizure. Trust me, I understand how much I want to be included as a person with HFA and seizures… but in my case I had to settle for being excluded from a class because two students and a teacher felt I was a “risk” to their safety. (Not sure how, but I had to realize the university wasn’t about to fight and lose.)

      The upside, I got an “easy A” in a class. The downside… was reminded that people fear me. Oh, well. Life goes on. I learned a lot about Minnesota-specific legal rights (and lack of rights). I’m a spoiled Californian, apparently.

      Still, I have to side with caution. The boy has more of history we keep hearing about in local media. As someone else stated, it wasn’t his first two “joy rides” and might not have been his last. That’s really, really scary.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,

      The Church is called to set a moral model here and its response has been imperfect. Again, I believe that the notion of “universality” is not being sufficiently recognized here.

      @CS Wyatt,

      Lots of discussions about Catholicism around here (as in my household). I’m not Catholic; my husband has written a lot about Catholicism in the US and the comments and discussion about this issue are unfolding in a very interesting manner.

      I would say, the presence of a person who is different calls us to change.

      (Perhaps my California roots show a little.)

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Reen, observing an irony is not throwing out barbs; it’s observing an irony. I’ve got no dog in any hunt against the Catholic church. And when I said that regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong the priest could have acted more appropriately, that’s not blaming the priest; it’s expecting of someone in his position what ought to be expected. This does not seem to have been handled well, even if you completely believe all that the priest has asserted in the order. A for your assumptions about me, they’re wrong, but I don’t really care. Calmete. Are you related to the priest or something?

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Mom of 7, that was well said.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      An article in the May 19th Star Tribune emphasizes the physical size of the Races’ son overly much. (And I write that as the mother of an autistic 11 year old son who is bigger than me.)

      I’m going to start looking ahead and try to consider if, how, something affirming and constructive can come out of this. There’s been abundant examples from this case about what not to do but surely there are ways (as pointed out by mayfly and others more towards the beginning of this thread) to change and accommodate, on both sides.

    • Redtown

      People mention the religious principle of universal acceptance. But I doubt that even Jesus would condone the enabling of dangerous and disruptive behavior — posing great risks to others and self — in the name of “acceptance”. This is sloppy agape.

      Someone can be seriously injured. The pastor has definite moral and legal responsibilities to protect everyone from harm. If the pastor failed to do so, and some child or elderly person were injured, it would be a major moral failure and a major lawsuit.

      In a perfect world, everyone would be welcomed everywhere. But if I had a highly communicable disease, say TB, I’d have no right to mingle in large crowds where I posed a serious threat. And I think Jesus would agree, notwithstanding that he loved everyone.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Autism is not, of course (as is TB), an infectious disease. Autistic children can be taught, and often much more than might first be thought. The question to me is what efforts might be made to help make attending church a welcoming experience for all.

    • William

      Kristina Chew, PhD, you missed Redtowns’ point entirely.
      Redtown was not comparing autism vs. TB.
      Redtown was using TB as an analogy to “danger”.
      A person with TB is “dangerous” to your health if you are in close contact with them.

      Apparently the members of this church feel in “danger” of being harmed in a physical way by this man-sized child when “he is melting down” (His Mother’s words).
      The boy’s mother also says, “Sometimes my husband and I need to restrict Adam’s movements to prevent him from hurting himself or his family who sit near him.”

      THE MOTHER ADMITS THAT THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES, DURING CHURCH SERVICE, WHEN HE HAD TO BE RESTRAINED TO PREVENT HIM FROM PHYSICALLY HURTING THOSE AROUND HIM!

      Doesn’t that say it all?

      It’s not about autism. It’s not about church.

      It’s about personal safety in public places.

      Duh!

    • William

      Chris Gennaula said “I honestly believe that a disruptive child at a mass is not disruptive in the eyes of God.”

      Linda said, “The church and the priest could not have handled things worse. The priest at the very least should model compassion and understanding. The parents are not the problem nor is Adam. Church should be a place they can receive unconditional love.”

      Chris and Linda, What planet do you live on?

      Chris, can you distinguish the difference between church and Heaven?

      Linda, where in this world do you find unconditional love? You aren’t showing unconditional love towards the Priest or the church.

      The priest IS “modeling compassion and understanding” for all his other parishioners.
      You know, the ones that show up for Mass, hoping they won’t be knocked down, spit or urinated on by some out of control 225 pound kid that is unable to control his body or emotions (because of a dreadful malady that he suffers from, not withstanding)

      While you complain about the splinter in your brother’s eye, the 2×4 in your own eye could use some attention.

    • Reen

      In a perfect world, everyone could gather together and worship as one. We don’t live in a perfect world! Based on several accounts, this boy has exhibited dangerous behavior. I can’t help but question the mother’s intentions here. People try to bring this down to a debate about acceptance of people with autism. This is not what it is about!!!!! The parish/priest has a moral (and legal) responsibility to protect its parishioners. There should be no dispute that this boy poses a danger to those around him, by his mom’s own admission. The Catholic Church was criticized for not bringing the law into deal with a small percentage of its priests who were abusing young people several years ago. Maybe they have learned something!

    • Reen

      I would also like to say that Carol Race’s rights to worship on Sunday at Mass stop when her rights threaten/pose a danger to those around her. There are many options available for her, but she refuses all of them. Why? If you are going to church with a son that you have to use restraints on and sit on to control, you are not paying attention to the homily, you are not able to pray, etc.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Looks like some posters *do* have a dog in this hunt.

    • Bren

      It seems like the issues are getting twisted into something they are not. This isn’t about the church discriminating against a person because he has autism. This is about a matter of safety. Carol Race said she has attended this church since 1996. I think I read that there were no issues until the past year or so. What has changed in that time? As her son grew into a big kid (6 ft, 225 pounds), the situation changed. It sounds like their son Adam has reached the age where the parents can no longer physically control him. While his actions have no violent intent, they do put others at risk. I am sure nobody likes the situation, but it is what it is! What would be wrong with a private mass, closed circuit TV, etc. If Carol Race’s true intention is to be a good Catholic and attend weekly mass, there are other ways she can do it without putting the rest of the congregation at risk.

    • http://mayfly mayfly

      As more information has surfaced, it is apparent the clergy made great efforts to accommodate the family. This is good to hear. The family however refused them. Perhaps believing that even violent disrupting behaviors need to be tolerated if they stem from autism. Perhaps because they are being exhibited by their son.

      In the church I attend which does so much for special needs, such behavior would not be tolerated either.

      I wrote before about people needing a heart change. I meant both, but primarily the clergy. It now seems the family is in greater need.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      We can keep on debating about who is at fault most endlessly. BUt I hope that the next step (which would be more constructive) would be for all parties to think of how to change so that Adam might be able to attend church. In our experience, sometimes there is (despite many efforts) a lack of communication and understanding about accommodations. I would hope that positive strategies with a shared sense of dignity for all can result.

      In regard to the parish having as, Reen wrote, a “moral…responsibility” to protect its petitioners and this of course includes Adam, whose feelings about this whole situation have not been part of this discussion.

    • Reen

      Emily, not sure if your comment is directed at me…However, my only dog in this hunt is to keep the debate on the facts. This isn’t about discrimination of those with Autism. This is about safety. The incidents leading up to the Race’s being asked not to bring Adam to mass sound serious enough to raise the debate about whether he poses a risk to the others in the congregation. It sounds like many in the parish have weighed on the side that it does.

      This isn’t a unique situation. Children are expelled from school all the time when their behavior becomes dangerous to those around them. The only difference is that this mom’s reaction was to go to the media, rather than try to come up with other accomodations.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,

      If I may ask (and please ignore this question if you wish to as it’s a bit off-topic)—-do you have an autistic family member or do you teach autistic children? Very best.

    • Reen

      Kristina, you are right. I think the mom should try working with the church, rather than the media, to come up with a workable solution. I do, however, get the sense that unless he is allowed to participate fully in the Sunday mass, there is no workable solution for her. And it sounds like the parish has taken the stance that his presence at Sunday mass poses a danger to those around him. I am guessing that a small town church does not have endless resources to make perfect accomodations. It is unfortunate that they do not live in a city where economies of scale would make it easier to make accomodations.

      I do disagree with you however, with your “moral responsibility”. Physical welfare should overrule feelings. How are his feelings affected by having his hands and feet bound, with the rope run through the pew so that his dad can control him from behind?

    • Reen

      Kristina, I do not have an autistic child, but I do have a close friend who does. Yes, I have not walked a day in your shoes and I know, through my friend, that it isn’t easy. However, everyone has limitations, physical and emotional. In this case, Adam does not have the capacity to make it through weekly mass without putting others in the congregation at risk. I have a six year old who can barely make it through mass:) For years, I have taken her out when she became disruptive. If at any point her behavior could physically hurt others, I would stop bringing her. The fact that this became a debate on autism is wrong.

    • nhokkanen

      People should re-read the mother’s press release posted above. They don’t use “rope.” The large smiling boy cavorting on TV clips doesn’t look abused at all.

      If the mother and son are able to attend church elsewhere without incident, what does that say about the priest and his restraining order?

      I assume that Adam Race’s mom and dad always sit on either side of their son. Have any of the other parishioners ever asked, “How can I help you?”

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      I think it is right for it to be a debate about autism and the inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities. Churches and places of worship are some of the places that families who are in difficulty circumstances turn to for support and perhaps that is why there is so much discussion here. In this way the church has, if you will, the burden of being a place that people look to for guidance about morals and the response in this instance has been all the more puzzling.

      I know that there are ways to help a child “be” in public places and, again, hopefully the parish and the family can start the work of seeking the best practices to help Adam be in church.

      Very best wishes to your family and your friend, too—-

    • Jen

      I’d have to side with the church on this one. From what I understand from other news sources, the two options the priest offered were: 1. he could come to the family’s home and conduct a private mass. 2. the family could sit in the library and watch the mass via a TV feed. I think those are both reasonable-the family receives the sacrament and religious instruction, and the member of the congregation are protected from Adam’s unpredictable and unsafe behavior. And, I do have a personal understanding of autism. My younger brother Daniel is a low functioning autistic man. He is generally sweet and lovable, but even his sweet and lovable can be dangerous. My father has endured years of pain and several back surgeries due to an out of control hug from my brother. Daniel did not want to hurt my father, but at the same time he could not control his own body, and he did hurt my father. We would not want this to happen to anybody else. We are careful about taking Daniel in public to avoid close physical contact with others and to avoid situations that would stress him out. For example, he loves going out to eat, but we only take him to buffet restaurants because he gets very upset if people around him are eating and he has to wait. We would never insist that Daniel must sit in a church service with everybody else–I don’t think he would sit still that long anyway.

    • Reen

      The reason I say this isn’t a debate about autism is that he was accepted at church since 1996. It wasn’t until some recent incidents that people started to become concerned. This likely coincided with him become large enough where it was difficult for his parents to physically control him. Obviously the parisioners had no issues with him being there for those first 11-12 years.

      I think all should be allowed to participate at church, however, if they pose a danger to those around them, it is the church’s responsibility to protect its fellow members.

      It seems that many on this site have the view that the church needed to make more of an effort. I don’t see any effort being made by the family. There are ways that the family could seek the support and guidance of the faith community without putting fellow parisioners at risk. Maybe it means the mom and dad going to different masses while Adam stays at home with the other parent. Kristina, you indicated in one of your previous posts that you have tried to take your son to church and you have worked at preparing him with a slow structured teaching process. This suggests that you would not bring your son to church if he was not ready. To me, it sounds like Adam is at a phase where he isn’t ready to be at church. This isn’t to say that it is permanent situation.

      We need to be careful when we impugn the motives of others. So far, the only one really talking is the mom. I have heard some of the congregation comments on the local news, but the diocese cannot comment. Our society is quick to cry discrimination, however, I believe most people are very accepting and accomodating, especially the church. As I said before, maybe it is a resource issue since this is a very small town.

    • Chuck

      “As I said before, maybe it is a resource issue since this is a very small town.”

      There is no need for any “resources” to resolve this issue other then compassion and understanding and it seems to be lacking at that church. My family went through literally a month of Sundays to get my son to attend mass without screaming and self-abusive behavior. Prior to our start we informed the priest that situations may arise but we felt this was a battle with our child that was important. Our priest agreed. At first we got some ugly stares from those around us. I would usually need to apply DEEP pressure to calm my son down. Many would ask questions during his meltdowns and I would respond to them to understand, relax, and tell others to do the same. Eventually the “regulars” go the message and I had enough allies that the behaviors subsided. I see little difference between Adam Race and my 180 pound 12 year old. The only difference between my family and theirs is a mis-guided priest who needs to find his way again.

    • Regan

      “In regard to the parish having as, Reen wrote, a “moral…responsibility” to protect its petitioners and this of course includes Adam, whose feelings about this whole situation have not been part of this discussion.”
      —————————-
      As a hypothetical, if Adam was fine with, or even preferred, a service at home, where would this stand?

      Our region has adapted masses, which involve combined dioceses because of the resources involved–it is something quite a bit above and beyond the typical mass and allows such opportunities as altar boy service and performances within the service to engage attention and make it more concrete. There is also allowance for those who might find it difficult remaining quiet during the mass; and not necessarily doing so is expected and accepted. The feedback is that the special needs members look forward to the service and are fully members as contrasted with trying to fit in.

      However there are some who feel that it is segregation. So, what do you do? Perhaps it is on a continuum to that full inclusion which is the ideal goal.

      I contrast this discussion with some that have been on this blog about classroom placements and how some make a choice to have their children within specialized settings, even with a more mainstream placement available for the sake of more appropriate supports and accommodations. Just as placement is not a “place”, I would suggest that it is possible, not necessarily preferable, but possible, that the same paradigm might apply to other situations.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,

      We have taken Charlie to church in the past, in other parishes. In our current parish (where we are living due to the school district’s services for Charlie), we did not find the current atmosphere welcoming for Charlie. A therapist has been studying for her Masters in ABA (applied behavior analysis) and has chosen as her project, to teach autistic children to attend Mass. She happens to live in the parish and has been taking him to church.

      And this is off-topic; our reasons for not attending were for other reasons than Charlie’s needs.

      I hope most of all that the situation for the Races at St Joseph’s can be turned into a learning experience for everyone!

    • Joy

      This is actually tougher than I thought. My first reaction was outrage and after pondering the situation for a few days and reading blog discussions, I have concluded that this is not an easy slam dunk for either side of the issue. Jesus was displeased with those who tried to keep the children away from him … those who seemed bothered by their presence. I have no doubt he is displeased now as well. The other side of the issue has some valid points, however. I read a comment on which pointed out there are places where children who are disruptive (special needs or not) should not be… ie, library, weddings, plays, movie theaters and church services. I tend to agree with this and this is coming from a mom of a VERY disruptive child with autism. We pick and choose the places we can take him. We try to be considerate of others around us. I expect that for myself when I am out as well… again, from all parents with children, not just special kids. I think what makes this dicey is that this is church, this is the house of God, a place where all should be welcome and supported. I attend a church that has made a way for families with kids to attend church. Typically no children are in the main service but attend a class for their own age and own understanding level for teaching. Our pastor takes the position that he wants the adults to be able to worship and learn freely without the distractions that come with a sanctuary full of kids. This works for me! :) Because of the work of one mother in our church, there is now a class for special needs kids… not just kids with autism… we have kids in wheel chairs, cerebal palsey, down syndrome and a variety of other disabilities. I cannot tell you the blessing it is to be able to go and have a safe place for Sam and feel free to worship. Sadly, very few churches do this and sadder still is that countless families stay home because they aren’t supported this way. I understand that there are hundreds of churches that do not have the kids classes and families sit together throughout the entire service. This is just a difference in style and tradition. My desire/opinion would be to see Christians and church leadership meet the challenge head on and support families who face struggles every single day. I think EVERY church should have a program for kids and families with disabilities. In the end there has to be some middle ground but I believe that the leadership of the church has the greater responsibility here.(yes, the family has some too). I also believe that we can all have opinions and emotions on this issue – it is too close to home for most of us not too. However, when it comes to church and God, I believe the final word goes to Him… scripture says to esteem others higher than ourselves, it says to bear with the weaknesses of others, it says to give the best seat in the sanctuary to the least likely person, not to be a respector of persons. (anyone want to know where is says these things, just ask). I believe Jesus would always, always, always want His church to error on the side of Grace. I read another comment that really choked me up and it simply said, rather than the congregation being annoyed or alarmed or filing complaints, has anyone just asked “how can I help?” Don’t we all long to hear those words when we are having a bad day or tough time with our kids? Wouldn’t that show the true love of God? For me, that one statement ends this whole mess.

    • Reen

      This is not an issue of disruptive behavior. It sounds like his presence was fine until his behavior crossed the line of being dangerous to those around him. Nobody has posted incidents that remotely resemble the details of this situation. Would everyone agree that if Adam’s actions posed a physical threat to those around him, he should not be attending mass? Whether he posed a threat is up for debate. I don’t think the church would resort to these measures lightly. The Catholic Church has a history of reaching out. From a PR perspective, they wouldn’t subject themselves to the bad publicity unless they truly thought it was necessary.

    • Regan

      It looks like these are the kinds of issues such as might apply when this goes to hearing in June. I don’t know this for a fact, but I imagine that a determination of when the line is crossed from annoying/disruptive to dangerous is going to be pivotal.

      “(…)The Minnesota Human Rights Act mandates that people with disabilities can’t be barred from public places unless there is a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

      That law hasn’t been tested in Minnesota as it applies to churches, said Minneapolis attorney Tammy Pust, who represents children and families with special needs.

      Minneapolis attorney Joe Schmitt, who has represented employers and businesses in disability cases, pointed out that under federal law there’s a legal distinction between distracting and dangerous.

      “Is he doing something in the church that we think is annoying or that we would prefer not be done in church? That is not the standard,” he said. “You can’t exclude someone from that public entity merely because you don’t like what they’re doing.” (…)”

      Accommodating autism: Where’s the fine line?
      Teen’s ouster from church stirs debate over disruptive vs. dangerous behavior.
      http://www.startribune.com/local/19085694.html

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,
      I suspect more than a few of us have been through similar experiences as the Races have in their church; that’s one reason some use these sorts of procedures.

      @Joy, I’ve learned too much to process from this discussion!

      When my husband asked the church in our town (his parents have been members for over 30 years) if they had programs for autistic/special needs children, the answer was “no.” There are other parishes in NJ that have special services and programs. I just hope much can be learned from all of this.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Regan,
      It’ll be (very) interesting to see what results from a hearing about this.

      As in the case of specialized/separate “vs” mainstream placements, a lot depends as you note on what families think best. On the other hand, the media has not conveyed (not surprisingly) what Adam Race’s own wishes might be and I’d be hesitant of course to speculate about such.

    • Chuck

      Reen,

      Those of us who are Catholic and do have autistic children have a little better insight into the ramifications of what is going on in this situation.

      Would Jesus Christ have turned Adam Race away from the Sermon on The Mount?

      If her wouldn’t, then why did the priest?

    • Wendy

      I live in the Twin Cities so my ears listen to the to the media’s depiction of this situation skeptically. They have a flair for emphasizing the dramatic over what is really happening. Just a few weeks ago one of the affiliates ran a big story on autism with teasers about Minnesota having the highest autism rates in the country. The actual thesis of the report that was stated at the beginning (Why are so many children being classified with the disorder in Minnesota-even without a doctor’s diagnosis?) was never really explored. It was implied that the schools were over-diagnosing but even the State Commissioner of Education disagreed. We also get a lot of sensationalistic “cure ” reports as well. So I take it all with a grain of salt.

      That said, as a Catholic parent of 2 boys on the autism spectrum my instinct tells me the priest is exaggerating the situation out of fear. That makes me sad. If we parents took the same attitude with our children where would they be? We have been blessed by our children. This is OUR vocation. We take it on 24/7. We don’t ask for perfection from others-just an open mind.

      We attend a large urban parish. We used to participate in Mass every week. But when our oldest son was 5 we struggled with the education program to let him attend Sunday school. He used to be a big hand flapper and he would vocal stim when he was anxious. At the time his limited vocabulary consisted of labeling things.They made it clear from Day 1 that they didn’t really want him there. It was a Montessori Program called (ironically) the Good Shepherd.We hired an experienced one-on-one to attend with him. The teachers said that she would have to take a year-long class on Montessori before they would let her come. We explained that she wasn’t there to teach him but to assist him with communication. Then I offered to go with him, but they said that wouldn’t be fair to the other parents if I got to go to class with my child when no one else did. These individuals never grasped the key tenet of Montessori about structuring the activities to the needs of the children. Plus, many people view autism differently. They would never say to a child in a wheelchair that “chairs aren’t allowed” .
      To make an extremely long and painful story short, they relented and let my son go with his one-on one. We tried but it never worked out.
      Back then, I felt like our faith community would cry with us, pray with us, or deliver a casserole to our house every night of the week if I asked.

      Since then, many individuals have stepped up to the plate and been awesome. Both boys made their first eucharist at the same church. But I think the institution really needs to stop and examine itself-is Church a place to “be holy” or “get holy” . I know I haven’t mastered “being holy” yet but I am trying!

      Today, we are the opposite of the “Christmas-Easter” Catholics-we attend Mass when it isn’t busy. Church is the one place where I can count on someone “vibing” or scowling at my boys for flapping or laughing to loud or saying “how many minutes?”. Again, it makes me sad more than angry. So sometimes I make pancakes on a Sunday morning and we play the piano. Sometimes we go to the park.

    • Wendy

      Whoops! I deleted an important point. “Back then, I felt our faith community would cry with us, pray with us, or deliver a casserole to our house Every night of the week if asked”. But including my son in everyday parish activities was too much to ask.

    • Reen

      1) There is a big difference between disturbing and dangerous behavior. The Race situation sounds dangerous to me. All of the circumstances that have been presented in this discussion sound more like disturbance issues.
      2) You are dealing with a very small town church. Unfortunately, unlimited resources do not exist and it is unlikely that the church can justify a special program for one person. Maybe Mrs. Race could coordinate a consolidated program amongst various churches in the area, even combining different denominations. I am guessing that she has contacts within her community to know what other families have similar situations. With all of the media attention she has attracted, she could use this to her advantage.
      3) Finally, I stand by the assertion that this is not a discrimination situation. Many people have impugned the motives of this church. But nobody has acknowledged that the Race’s have attended this church since 1996 and were not aware of any complaints until last June. So for 11 years, Adam attended church with no complaints. To me this suggests that something changed for the church to take the actions it has. One does not wake up one day and say, after 11 years, lets kick that boy out! Based on past scandals, the Catholic Church has a heightened sensitivity when it comes to the treatment of youth within the parish. I taught my son’s sunday school class for 2 years and had to have a full background check and we always had to have 2 adults in the room. Children are not allowed to be unattended while at church for meetings, etc. I don’t think the diocese (the priest could not have initiated this on his own) would have gone to the lengths that they have because a few people were uncomfortable.

    • Mom of 7

      I’m sorry Christina I realize this is your site, but I totally utterly disagree with you on this issue.

      A child whose parents allow them to enter another individuals running car, push them aside and rev an engine which could have resulted in multiple fatalities or injuries and then don’t realize that incident would force those whose responsibility it is to create a safe environment for all in attendance to take drastic measures when their concerns are dismissed is not in touch with reality.

      If a situation is so stressful to a sensory fragile individual that they would react to a small change in such a dangerous (to themselves as well as others) manner then a caring individual must step in and stop that situation from happening again.

      This situation does not seem to me to be about exclusion/prejudice but about caring-for the autistic teen and the rest of the congregation. No one can guarantee the order of service will never vary, no one can guarantee that others may chose to leave at the closing hymn, to expect so is absolutely unrealistic.

      I can’t believe as a caring parent if your autistic child was so distressed by a situation to create such a risk of harm to himself or others that you would willingly subject him to that risk ever again.

    • Bren

      Chuck: So if you don’t have an autistic child, you don’t understand? That is a shallow statement. We (all of us) take positions on issues that we may not have first hand experience on. I also disagree with you that this is an Autism issue. I don’t begin to understand the trials and tribulations of raising a child with autism. However, I do understand the necessity of maintaining a safe environment. I get the impression that many are suggesting that safety be compromised to accomodate someone with autism. Who is responsible if Adam had knocked one of those cars in gear? I respect everyone’s right to worship and worship as a family. However, that right stops when it puts others in harms way. This isn’t about loud outbursts or making noises or people feeling uncomfortable. Too bad for those that are uncomfortable with the presence of an autistic child. However, if public safety is the issue, then it is a different debate!

    • Reen

      Chuck, since I don’t have a child with autism, let me ask the question to those that do. If your child exhibited a pattern of dangerous behavior, would you voluntarily remove yourself from the situation?

      I would find it hard to believe that anyone could answer “No”.

      We can debate whether Adam was dangerous, but lets not make this an Autism discrimination issue. Also, the only one really talking to the press so far is the mother. We are just starting to hear what members of the congregation think about this. The church has said nothing due to impending litigation.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      It’s been our experience that what seems “dangerous” to many people must be handled in specific ways for some autistic children. From the statement of Carol Race, it seems that efforts were made to bring in a behavioral consultant. However:

      “· The priest, Fr. Dan Walz, refused to discuss our family’s situation with anyone trained in autism, including a behavioral consultant hired by the parents specifically to help with accommodations for mass. This well-known and experienced behavioral consultant wrote a three-page report with many suggestions; however it was ignored. Fr. Walz also refused to speak with a county social worker who tried to help the parish find reasonable accommodations for Adam’s continued inclusion.”

    • Mom of 7

      if he refused to discuss it further after the parking lot near disaster who could blame him.

    • Pingback: dotCommonweal » Blog Archive » A post from Kristina Chew

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    • Reen

      I guess Kristina answers the question about if your child exhibits a pattern of dangerous behavior, would you remove them. No – because people are ignorant about autism. Imagine the conversation if Adam had put the car into gear, “You didn’t really get run over by that car, because Adam has Autism.”

      Regardless of Autism or not, a boy jumping into two different cars and revving the engine is dangerous. Intent is a whole other issue. A boy knocking someone down is dangerous.

      Maybe other parents with autistic children are better at controlling their children then Carol Race. Kristine says: “It’s been our experience that what seems “dangerous” to many people must be handled in specific ways for some autistic children.” Do we know if Carol Race has handled these situations correctly? I have never seen someone sat on at church and I have never seen someone bound with nylon straps at church. From some of the comments in this forum, these methods seem controversial by some of the parents with autistic children.

    • http://gennaulapedia.blogspot.com Chris Gennaula

      With all this discussion about the rev’ing of the car, I have a question: How did Adam get the keys? I’m assuming either someone left the car running without someone in the driver’s seat, or the keys were left in the ignition.

      This thread has struck a major chord with many people. People talk of the danger. In that discussion Adam has been reduced to a threat that must be kept away. To me that is what is truly sad. A judgment seems to have been made that Adam cannot be taught to attend mass.

      There has been much talk about how quickly the rev’ing of the cars could have turned into putting the car in gear–which is very scary but did not happen. Could the conversation instead be about why keys should not be left in an ignition that is unattended?

    • mom of 7

      Several news reports stated that the child pushed the driver away and revved the engine in the parking lot.

      Even if someone used their remote starter to warm their car and walked away to bring their infant or elderly loved one to a warm car that would not have been wrong. It is a reasonable expectation that ALL PARENTS have knowledge of what their children are up to at all times and reasonable physical control over them in a crowded parking lot.

      I’m still morally and legally responsible for my kid’s behavior at all times until they are mentally capable of making wise decisions on their own.

    • Reen

      I read somewhere that the revving of the car calms him down. It has also been reported in the local media that he crashed the car before on their farm.

      It is very sad that it has resulted in him not being able to go to church and maybe in the future, his behavior will improve to the point where his parents can control him better. Since he was welcomed at the church for the first 12 years of his life, I am assuming that if his behavior is such that he isn’t a PHYSICAL threat to those around him, that he would be welcomed back. I would love to see that.

      It is unfortunate that this has been dumbed down to a “Church hates kids with autism” issue.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen, that dumbing down always happens with autism issues—-one has only to look at the numerous headlines proclaiming “vaccines cause autism” (they do not).

    • a long-time poster

      “… I have never seen someone bound with nylon straps at church”

      What about nailed to a cross?

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Chris Gennaula, who wrote:

      “This thread has struck a major chord with many people. People talk of the danger. In that discussion Adam has been reduced to a threat that must be kept away. To me that is what is truly sad. A judgment seems to have been made that Adam cannot be taught to attend mass.”

      I really feel that the perspective of Adam, of the autistic person at the center of this, has been quite overlooked, as well as his capacity to learn, grow, and change.

      and @Reen, in regard to your earlier comment about what might seem “dangerous” and what not—–it’s never easy to tell. As far as handling any situation “correctly”—-in life with autism, it’s a long road and there are constant changes, and shiftings of the earth, mud and rocks in the road. One just has to keep shifting one’s plan and dealing with what is before one.

      But parents do know their children best.

    • Priscilla

      They should take him to St. Joan. I hear that it’s a very welcoming, inclusive church.

    • Reen

      Kristina, it may not be easy to tell, but that determination is made all the time. I guess the court will decide. It is sad that so much energy has been put into this. While each small town church lacks the resources to each create their own special needs program, Carol Race should use the publicity she has to work with parents in the area to create some sort of program. She seems like she has the spirit of advocacy. Why not work towards a productive solution. I am sure she would receive the help of all area parishes.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Something will come of this; hopefully change and understanding. I think there is the beginning of such in this guide from the Boggs Center here in NJ.

    • Clare Krishan

      “Even if someone used their remote starter to warm their car and walked away to bring their infant or elderly loved one to a warm car that would not have been wrong.” I beg to differ, and invite anyone to challenge me in front of a Justice of the Peace or a law enforcement officer. That’s culpable negligence an order of magnitude greater than a big kid on the loose!!!

      I have left my comments re: ideas for pastoral accomodation that have worked for me in the past at Amy’s cross-post here:
      http://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/restraint/#comment-6283

    • William

      Would you bring a newborn colicky baby to a stage play and just sit there while the baby’s crying drowned out the dialogue?

      Would you bring your cousin, the compulsive thief, to your friend’s home and then later disavow knowledge about their missing piece of artwork?

      Would you blast your boombox in the public library and refuse to turn it down or leave?

      Would you feel put out if your friend brought their dog, that is not house trained, and let it crap all over your carpet?

      These are examples of insensitive, rude, selfish, clods that have no feelings or regard for other people, or any perspective on “appropriate time and place”.

      Carol Race is another example.

    • Bren

      If accomodations do not exist for Adam and she is passionate about being able to attend mass, Carol Race should channel her energy into developing accomodations. As Reen said, small town churches do not have the resources that a city/suburban church would have. She would likely have to work with neighboring churches. Obviously no one wins in the current situation. Sometimes, you need to take the bull by the horns!!!!

    • CS

      Religion has a terrible history with autistics. From denying inclusion in preschool to sadistic exorcisms that have killed autistics. Just as we recognize that American society has been exclusionary to certain racial groups in our country, we try to remedy that through civil rights and equal opportunity laws. The disabled need such protections as well. But unfortunately, it doesn’t reach to religious organizations. In my personal experience, I’ve found religious organizations the most intolerant of institutions, across all faiths, albeit the Catholic Church has a longer and better documented history of atrocities even to present day. Given the propensity of the Catholic Church to lie, deny and obstruct justice and truth, I’ll side with the mother (though if restraints are necessary for Adam to attend, I find that deplorable).

      Disclosure: I’m agnostic and think religion is illogical. Mostly, my opinion is that organized religion serves mainly as a social club of like minded people worshipping a make believe figure.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William, I see the point of your analogies but, as analogies, they do not quite speak to the issue under discussion here.

      @Bren, Yes, no one wins. But the hope is that something good might come of all this for Adam.

    • Chuck

      Would you bring a newborn colicky ….

      Would you institutionalize Adam for the greater good and protection of society?

    • http://kozspace.blogspot.com Kozaburo

      It’s lamentable that this kid’s violent actions were put on the second page of the article – it would appear that many commenting in this thread did not finish reading the article.

      That he cannot control his actions is beside the point.

      This kid is violent and dangerous to himself and more importantly, to others (n.b. the episode whereby he started various cars in the parking lot). His record of violence against other parishioners is well established. Neither he nor his parents can control his violent outbursts any more than they can control his nonviolent actions (wetting himself, yelling during the mass, etc.).

    • Regan

      Lately, my posts won’t go through if there is more than one link, so apologies for spliting up posts.
      2004-04-16
      http://www.georgiabulletin.org/world/2004/04/16/US-4/

    • Regan

      “If accomodations do not exist for Adam and she is passionate about being able to attend mass, Carol Race should channel her energy into developing accomodations.”
      —————————-
      The comment won’t go through with the link, so if you are interested, google Carol Race and Opening Doors Award, which should bring up the award that she received from the Diocese of St. Cloud related to inclusion of those with disabilities.

      This is a messy situation, and the descriptions in the press, the restraining order and Carol Race’s press release are so divergent that it is hard to tell where the truth lays and whether there is enough common ground to regroup or whether this has become too polarized to do so. In that case the legal system will probably define what happens.

      This situation certainly has opened up discussion on the topic and as Kristina notes, maybe the most positive thing is pushing to the forefront the whole issue of accommodation and inclusion and to examine the matter and beliefs about that.

    • Reen

      Based on Regan’s post and reading about the award she received, I am wondering how this became an issue of autism discrimination and lack of understanding/tolerance on the church’s part. Could it be that Adam’s behavior changed in such a way that he posed a potential threat to those around him? I know much has been made of his size, but maybe as he grew he became more difficult to control. The impasse is that the church has deemed Adam as too dangerous to be at mass and has offered alternative accomodations and Carol Race is adament that her whole family should be able to attend mass together. As the narrative for the award indicates, Carol has worked throughout the Diocese. I guess I stand by my earlier suggestion that she channel her energy, not towards contacting the media and litigating, but to developing alternative accomodations within the diocese for those that are having difficulty being integrated with the general congregation. She may be in denial that her son’s behavior has become an issue. Regardless of who it is, all parents are bias about their children:)

      For those with autistic children…I read where Adam is home schooled. Would this make it more difficult for him to then be put into a more public setting just once a week? In a normal situation, I see the value of school setting as developing children’s socialization skills. Not sure if he attended a school, would his ability to control his behavior be stronger.

    • craig

      Let’s dissect Carol Race’s statement a bit:

      “Adam may be large and sometimes physical but he is not angry and violent…”

      “Physical” is a euphemism for something, obviously, but what exactly?

      “Most of the time Adam can walk through a crowd of people in a patient and gentle way.”

      Most of the time? What about the other times?

      “Fr. Walz refers to Adam’s self-injurious behavior as “dangerous,” saying he “strikes himself in the head violently.” That shows no understanding, and offers no aid. Adam harms no one else physically.”

      An admission that he harms himself, at least.

      “If we feel he may be momentarily out of control, we would ask those people to step aside for a few moments, but that would be rare.”

      An admission that out-of-control, potentially violent moments do exist.

      “When Fr. Walz reported his version to the County, the report was ignored. The foreign exchange agency, ASA, has a policy of removing any student whenever there is an allegation of sexual abuse, regardless of whether or not it is substantiated.”

      An admission that someone (who?) thought the incident serious enough to allege sexual abuse.
      (And what is the “report” to which she alludes?)

      “Fr. Walz omitted the closing song and failed to ask the congregation to wait to leave until our family had left first.”

      An admission that even minor differences in the order of Mass are potential causes of disruption, and a blithe assumption that Fr. Walz had a duty to restrain the rest of the congregation.

      It seems there is more going on here than Carol Rice is willing to admit, possibly because she’s grown used to it, but her own words indicate that Adam is a problem. Yes, they may have attended Mass for 11-12 years safely — but then Adam is 13, so he would have been less difficult to manage before now. Now, he’s most likely gone through puberty with all that implies besides the growth in size and weight (cf. the lap incident).

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Very interesting that a number of responses take issue—are so critical—with the Races.

      Thanks to Chuck for his question.

    • Bren

      Kristina: I think the opposite can be for many on this. Why are so many to blame the church and not the parents? I do question the motives of someone whose first response is to run the media.

      Regarding Chuck’s question, a priest is not the Son of God. Plus, a priest now has to worry about the modern trend of suing when you don’t get your way.

      A question was asked a while back that if you took autism out of the equation and someone had acted in a way that could cause potential harm to those around him (i.e. running over someone, knocking somone down, grabbing people, pulling someone out of their car and jumping in to rev the engine), would you voluntarily be around that person or would you take precautions for you personal safety? To me, the intentions are secondary. We may disagree on whether Adam’s actions were dangerous.

      Finally, nobody answered another early question. Does the fact that he is home schooled (inferring that he is in a tightly controlled environment, where items that could cause distress are eliminated) make it harder for him to behave in church if only going once a week? Logic would say that once a week of this sort of stimulus would make it harder for him to deal coping mechanisms. I don’t know if that holds true for someone with autism.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Bren, the fact that Adam is homeschooled could actually help him more—-for autistic kids, home schooling can mean that education is much more individualized to the child. A number of my friends who have autistic kids homeschool and this actually gives them the chance to take their children out into the community to various places. My son goes to school and everything is very structured (which suits him).

      If I may ask, do you have an autistic child or relative? (You don’t of course have to answer and hope it is all right to ask.)

    • Regan

      Bren,
      I don’t think it’s easy to generalize for our kids since so much depends on individual characteristics and the nature of instruction, the specific circumstance, etc., etc.
      But from the homeschool angle; I currently homeschool and have done so for a few years. My daughter Eleanor, who has some significant involvement with her autism, with appropriate instruction manages generalized settings quite well–even those which we only participate in on a weekly basis. So I don’t think that homeschooling per se makes such difficult vs. a public school setting. There are ways to practice some things apart from the immediate situation, or with intensive practice of some aspects, or to use backward chaining, etc. Having said that, I would hesitate to extrapolate our experience to another family whole hog–it’s really quite individual.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Bren,
      Regarding the issue of blame—this is a very loaded topic in discussions about autism. As you know, parents used to be blamed for causing their child to become autistic (this is the “refrigerator mother” theory of autism that was promulgated by self-styled child development expert Bruno Bettelheim; the theory is widely discredited, but still lurking).

    • Bren

      No – that is why I asked about the home schooling.

      However, I don’t see the fact that he is autistic as relevant to this issue. While it explains the reasons for his behaviors, if his behaviors are dangerous (not disruptive or annoying) then something needs to be done to protect those around him. I would say that about anyone who behaved in a dangerous manner, regardless of intent!

      It is amazing that for 11-12 years they attended this church with no problems (by Carol Race’s own admission). It was only after a few incidents that they were asked to make alternative arrangements. To me, this illustrates why this isn’t an issue of discrimination against autism. I am assuming he was autistic for those first 11-12 years they were welcomed????

      I am disappointed in the fact that everyone is quick to blame the church. It doesn’t sound like Carol Race gave them much to work with. Her attitude seems to be, “I am coming to this mass regardless. If people don’t like it go to a different mass.” While many question why the parish did not behave in a Christian way, couldn’t the same be asked of Carol Race? She is a Christian woman? When presented with the fact that her son’s recent behavior was viewed as dangerous and that there were valid concerns that he could injure someone, she did not try to come up with a compromise. Her only accomodation was to explain why he behaves as he does. There may be a good reason why, but that doesn’t change the fact that many view him as dangerous. When things didn’t go her way, she went right to the media. Could her efforts be better served working with diocese to come up with a mass for people with special needs. Because it is a rural area and may not be the volume of people within the individual parishes, they could have developed a rotating schedule throughout the diocese or picked a centrally located parish, etc. It takes both sides to work together.

      Life isn’t fair and it isn’t easy. I don’t think it could be easy for Carol Race raising a son with autism, however, that does not give her the right to discount the concerns of those around her.

      If this were only a matter of her son being disruptive, making noises, occassional outbursts, it would totally be different. However, the consensus with the church and reviewed by the diocese is that his behavior became dangerous. I think she should respect those concerns.

    • Bren

      Of course I am not blaming her for having an autistic child. I am saying does she have any blame in this becoming such an issue.

      I know most of you are parents of autistic children, and you live this 24/7. However, as a parent (of any child), if there was someone around your child that at times could not be controlled and had acted dangerous, would you be concerned? I think the natural reaction is yes!

      As a hypothetical, if the situation was exactly the same, except for the fact that he was not autistic, would you have a different opinion?

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Bren, I’m concerned whenever there is exclusion and conflict due to issues of difference.

    • Bren

      What is the “difference”?

      The difference I see is that some think that he should be allowed to go to church regardless of his dangerous behavior because he is autistic, while others think that regardless of why he is acting dangerously, the safety of all at church is more important.

      I think we are too quick to label something as “discrimination”. I think the opposite is true. I think more leeway was probably given because he was autistic. Do you think a parent of a 13 year old that knocked someone down, pulled someone out of their car and revved up the engine, etc. etc. etc. would have been given the same, better, or worse treatment? It is my opinion that the Race’s were given the benefit of the doubt until it became a matter of liability for the church due to the escalation of behavior. And that being said, they should be given the benefit of the doubt due to what was causing those behaviors.

      Society/government excludes all the time…jails are a form of exclusion. Should we let all prisoners out because there are being excluded from the rest of society due to issues of difference. We don’t care why a person commits armed robbery, it is still a felony. Maybe he had a real good reason, but that doesn’t change the underlying act of robbery. I AM NOT EQUATING AUTISM OR ANYTHING ADAM DID TO COMMITING A CRIME. When someone poses a threat to others and can’t be controlled, something needs to be done.

      It would be interesting to hear from those that disagree with the church’s decision, at what point should he be asked to not attend church or is there a point at all?

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      I don’t think of autism as a disease, but as a disability and a difference. Autistic persons can present with behaviors that might seem “unusual” or “abnormal” and, indeed, “aggressive,” but the motivations are not necessarily the same. I still think that more weight needs to be given to what the Races themselves have said.

      Again, it’ll be very interesting when the hearing for this case is held.

      I think the restraining order was an unfortunate step to take and think that some mediator would have been very helpful. The decision for a child like Adam to attend or not attend church needs to be made by a number of parties, and autism consultants should be included (I think).

      I have to thank, you, Bren, for your patience with my responses!

    • Bren

      I agree motivations are not the same. And more weight should be given to the fact that he has autism. However, can everyone agree that there is a point where the best decision is that he can’t be with the rest of the congregation? Or do some believe that if you have autism, there is no such point.

      I don’t know how the church finally made its decision to file the restraining order. However, I do think they would not have made this decision lightly or without consultation. They had to know the repercussions of this sort of decision and still felt strongly enough that it was the right thing to do. Remember, they are no stranger to bad publicity or litigation!

      I can’t imagine anyone wanting to exlcude someone from attending mass, especially clergy, unless it was the last resort.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Bren,

      I’ve already been thinking about how I might discuss this case with my students. I can understand why the church made its decision and why the family stuck to theirs; one thing I’ve learned (the hard, hard way; so it is) is that trying to include my son in the community can be a messy process. And I’m not, not, not always right, that’s for sure, nor do I expect to be—I try to keep my son’s needs most of all in mind.

    • William

      Kristina Chew, PhD, I am getting the feeling from your responses that you believe this is all about autism. That would explain why you absolutely missed the point of my analogies.
      Believe it or not, this situation has nothing to do with autism or autism discrimination, no matter how much you and Carol Race try to make it so.

      Catholic Mass is a solemn Ritual to be experienced in a sanctuary of quiet peace.
      All concentration is to be directed outwardly to the words and actions of the Priest, and inwardly to the Spiritual meaning of those words and actions in silent contemplation.

      Adam Race is annoying. He is disturbing. He is a distraction. He is out of control, and he is dangerous.

      Would you deny that verbal outbursts, wrestling bodies and the other distractions coming from Adam and his family might diminish the feelings of quiet sanctity?

      It makes no difference if Adam is afflicted by autism or Tourettes or “the wiggles” or paranoid
      schizophrenia or Lycanthropy or demonic possession or hyperactivity from crystal meth use or puberty.

      The kid can’t sit still. The kid can’t stay quiet.

      You are so way over the line when you suggest that autism consultants be involved in the decision whether he should attend Mass.

      The Catholic Mass is not a classroom to be used by parents of unruly children to try to teach their kids to sit still.

      I’ll agree that autism consultants be called in to advise Carol Race about the uncomfortable and impossible position she is forcing Adam to endure.
      Unless and until he demonstrates vastly improved self awareness and control it is cruel for her to bully and force his compliance where he has none to give.

      And you, Kristina Chew, PhD, are way too emotionally entrenched and invested to be unbiased in this situation, and therefore deserve a time-out until you can regain your judgement about autistic children in social situations.

    • William

      During the thirty or so minutes it took for me to compose my letter you had just posted your mea culpa.
      Thank you for your honesty.

      I work for a Hospice and I am in awe at the strength and endurance many people demonstrate in caring for their loved ones.

      I freely admit my doubts that I could/would have the strength of will to be that dedicated.

      I honor all who have that strength.

    • LaRe

      Mrs. Race issued a statement and, in part, addressed the issue of her son grabbing the thighs and buttocks of the exchange student. What she said, the way in which she totally dismissed what happened to the girl, left me absolutely cold…

      I’d never understood before reading that how people could blame a victim for sexul assault, but her reasoning was meant to shift blame entirely off her son and herself and make it seem like it was just an overreaction on everyone’s part… The parish, the people around her who saw it and must have reported it and the authorities WHO REMOVED THE GIRL FROM HER HOUSEHOLD and sent her back to her country of origin.

      For which she blamed everyone but herself and her son. That was her stance — it was someone else’s fault.

      What her son did was obviously inappropriate enough that it warranted the girl being moved to a much, much safer place, but what does it say about Mrs. Race that she insists the girl was OK with it and felt comfortable being pulled onto her son’s lap? A foreign exchange student like that is at the mercy of her ‘host family,’ and instead of protecting her Mrs. Race made a million excuses to make it seem like a big ol’ misunderstanding.

      That, in and of itself, makes me question Mrs. Race’s sense of social responsibility. I don’t think she has any. I think her son could burn down a building and she would find a way to shift the blame onto the building itself.

      I feel nothing but sadness for her son because I don’t think he’s the problem at all… I think it’s his mother.

    • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

      Bren and William, your views have been the views that for years excluded autistic children from schools and all other areas of society. It was only when parents, who live 24/7 with autism, were forced to take legal action in the 1970′s, that autistic children were finally given the “right” to an education. It has been an uphill battle for all of us to have our children included in society, which is their right.

      You say Kristina and all of us parents are biased. Well, the truth is, YOU have no perspective. You have not lived in our shoes, so you really don’t understand, and with your limited perspective taking skills, you won’t even try to see a situation from the autistic perspective. This IS about autism and discrimination. But you will never be able to see it, like we do, because you LACK PERSPECTIVE. You lack the ‘THEORY OF MIND” skills to even understand this situation from both perspectives.

      This reminds me of the discrimination that was prevalent in society that excluded African Americans and homosexuals from inclusion. They were “inherently dangerous” because they were “different”. They were depersonalized and demonized for their differences. It has taken years to change peoples minds and people in these groups still have to struggle daily for inclusion.

      But I suppose you will never be able to “see” things from our perspective.

    • Kathy

      Sorry storkdok, have to disagree with you there. This is NOT about autism and discrimination.
      If it were, then this situation would not have taken more than a decade to surface.
      After all, Adam WAS accepted at the parish for 12 years, wasn’t he?
      I am a practicing Catholic and mother to a 7 year old autistic boy.
      I like to think(I try !) that I am being objective.
      A few things bother me.

      1.That the priest found it necessary to obtain a restraining order.

      2. That the use of nylon restraints on Adam were used in church.

      3.What does Adam really want?Does he even want to be there? Is it stressfull for him? Has anyone tried to find out?

      As Kristina has pointed out, we need to work together, to come to some amicable solution, that satisfies the needs and concerns of all parties.

      Lets not make this a them and us proposition!

    • Bren

      Storkdok:
      You personify many things that are wrong with today’s society. Instead of addressing the issue, you cry discrimination. If you want to make this an issue of discrimination, then lets be honest (because you are not!), this is discrimination of those that put others in harms way. It could be a criminal, a troubled adolescent, and yes, even someone with autism. While motives and intent are different in those instances, society takes the responsibility of protecting others from harm.

      I think it is great that kids with autism go to school and participate as much as they can. Adam was part of the church for 11-12 years. Obviously something changed that made it necessary to resort to asking his family to not bring him.

      Storkdok, please don’t impugn people. I was the first one to say that Adam should be able to go to church, if he didn’t pose a physical danger to those around him. I also said that I cannot relate to family member of someone with autism. I admitted those things. But you found it necessary to slam me. Instead of implying that I am being narrow minded, maybe you are the one. Maybe you should look at it through the eyes of someone in the congregation who does not want to get knocked down or see their child get knocked down. Maybe they fear that next time he jumps in the family car, he will shift it into drive and run over someone. I would say those are pretty reasonable concerns based on some of the recent events that have occured at this church.

      Once again, and maybe one of these times Storkdak’s narrow mind can grasp it, this isn’t about someone who is different, looks different, acts different, sometimes makes different sounds, etc. This is about someone who has several incidents that could have potentially physically harmed others.

      Storkdak, try taking that big old chip off your shoulder for at least one moment. It really is surprising that in one post, you called me anti-autistic, racist, and homophobic! I don’t fear or hate those that are different. You discount anything that someone who doesn’t have a direct connection with autism says. Isn’t that the definition of discrimination? I believe everyone has a cross to bear and we are all broken in some way. Just as I can’t relate to a parent of autism, you can’t relate to the trials I have had to face. I didn’t judge you, I asked questions, tried to elevate the debate, and challenge. Your response was to impugn and judge me. Look in the mirror, you are the one with limited perspective.

    • http://www.unclesamscabin.blogspot.com Samantha Pierce

      I’m curious what those arguing here for Adam Race’s exclusion from church services think of other posts on this blog about inclusion/exclusion. Kristina has made several posts on the topic since this particular post. I think the positions on Adam Race have been fairly well established now. If you don’t mind indulging this request I’d like to see what you have to say about the other posts.

    • Mom of 7

      My rights end when they begin to infringe upon another’s.

      Let’s say there are 100 people at an event who have come to enjoy the event in safety and with the ability to hear what is going on.

      One person whether it be a collicky baby, an angry teen dragged against it’s will, a person with a psychological problem, a disability or whatever consistently ruins that event for the other 99. The right to participate (for the disruptive person) stops when their behavior becomes consistent or dangerous. That’s reality and justice for everyone.

      I was at a wedding once where a parent who believes in “bonding” with their child let it cry out for the entire service so that the bride and groom could not even hear the pastor asking them their vows. It didn’t occur to this parent that was inappropriate & to take the child outside until it were calm. The parents had become so accustomed to the child’s behavior they had lost perspective about propriety in social settings.

      Sadly the mother of this dangerously distraught young man has lost perspective in my opinion about her desire for her son to attend mass in a normal setting. Mass for shut ins was offered, the mother chose not to allow that.

      Part of being the parent of a disabled child is accepting as well as understanding our children’s limitations. I’m sorry Mrs. Race’s son can no longer safely handle the challenges of a public mass and that it is a “loss” to her emotionally & socially. I’m sorry her work at accomodations were not enough to undo the disease process of autism in this case. I’m sorry that there is no magic wand to make it so that her son is able to do those things in life that are important to her. But as I say often “Life is what it is, sometimes wanting something badly & trying to attain it is not a guarantee that we can. Sometimes it is just impossible for things to work out the way we wish. Life is not about whether it rains or not on your parade, it’s learning to dance in the rain.

    • Chuck

      William,

      “Catholic Mass is a solemn Ritual to be experienced in a sanctuary of quiet peace.
      All concentration is to be directed outwardly to the words and actions of the Priest, and inwardly to the Spiritual meaning of those words and actions in silent contemplation.

      Adam Race is annoying. He is disturbing. He is a distraction. He is out of control, and he is dangerous.”

      You just made it about autism.

      Maybe you haven’t noticed that sometimes Catholics have many children.

      I have yet to sit through a single mass because of that fact.

      The correct statement you should have given is:

      All children are annoying. All children are disturbing. All children are a distraction. All children are out of control, and all children have the potential of being dangerous to themselves and others.

    • Chuck

      Typo,

      Should have said I have yet to sit through a single QUIET mass because of that fact.

    • Redtown

      LaRe said –
      “…For which she blamed everyone but herself and her son…. (It’s always) someone else’s fault…. (This) makes me question Mrs. Race’s sense of social responsibility. I don’t think she has any. I think her son could burn down a building and she would find a way to shift the blame onto the building itself.”

      My response –

      As a (retired) SPED teacher, I’ve seen many parents who will do anything to either deny or justify their children’s behavior. I strongly suspect that Adam’s mother is one such parent in denial, all the more skewed by an activist political mentality.

      I notice that most of those on several blogs who identify themselves as parents of autistic and special needs children do NOT support Carol Race’s position. They refrain from *projecting* their own subjective circumstances on this situation.

      Many of these parents question if Carol Race isn’t pursuing a political activist agenda at the expense of her son’s best personal interests. She insists that her son be kept in the church setting even though this apparently causes him sensory overload.

      I’m sympathetic to the inclusion needs of special children when they can handle it. But as a teacher, my first responsibility was to protect the *health and safety* of all the children at all times, which is also Fr. Walz’s responsibility.

      Zealous activists are all too quick to accept Mrs. Race’s version of events and vilify Fr. Walz — projecting their own subjective feelings onto the situation and approaching it as a political cause.

      Stordok’s most recent post above is an excellent example of this. Equating those who disagree with him as racists and homophobes …. pleeeze! This is the *Al Sharpton* approach: scream “discrimination” to get your way. (and AMEN to Kathy, Bren, and Mom of 7’s responses).

      In their sloppy-agape version of “inclusion”, Mrs. Race and other political activists fail to realize that this particular boy’s out-of-control behavior does not belong in this particular setting. It’s not helping him, and it’s a very real safety issue for others.

    • Redtown

      PS: The link below has one of the best responses by a mother of a severely autistic child. First are comments by a priest defending Carol Race’s position. Be sure to read Darcee’s response which follows.

      You may have to copy and paste this web address if it doesn’t “hyperactivate” below (no pun intended!) –

      http://simplycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/about-carol-race-from-someone-who-knows-her/

    • Reen

      Samantha, I am all for inclusion. However, public safety has to be factored in a some point. I have asked the question before…When would it be okay to exclude someone from church services? Is there some line that people would agree on? If there is no line, then there is an impasse. If there is a line then it is just a disagreement over where that line is. I, personally, think that line was reached in this instance.

      I also agree with Bren, Stordok was way out of line. Just because you have a child with autism, doesn’t instantly make you more enlightened and open minded. I am pretty open minded about all types of things. Where I get defensive is when their behavior threatens my well being. Example, a group of kids (that could be either white or black) are causing a lot of noise and disruption in the middle of the night. If I call the cops and they are white kids, no big deal. If I call the cops and they are black kids, someone might call me racist. Why should their skin color matter? Americans have a knee jerk reaction to cry discrimination.

    • Redtown

      LaRe said –
      “…For which she blamed everyone but herself and her son…. (It’s always) someone else’s fault…. (This) makes me question Mrs. Race’s sense of social responsibility. I don’t think she has any. I think her son could burn down a building and she would find a way to shift the blame onto the building itself.”

      My response –

      As a (retired) SPED teacher, I’ve seen many parents who will do anything to either deny or justify their children’s behavior. I strongly suspect that Adam’s mother is one such parent in denial, all the more skewed by an activist political mentality.

      I notice that most of those on several blogs who identify themselves as parents of autistic and special needs children do NOT support Carol Race’s position. They refrain from *projecting* their own subjective circumstances on this situation.

      Many of these parents question if Carol Race isn’t pursuing a political activist agenda at the expense of her son’s best personal interests. She insists that her son be kept in the church setting even though this apparently causes him sensory overload.

      I’m sympathetic to the inclusion needs of special children when they can handle it. But as a teacher, my first responsibility was to protect the *health and safety* of all the children at all times, which is also Fr. Walz’s responsibility.

      Zealous activists are all too quick to accept Mrs. Race’s version of events and vilify Fr. Walz — projecting their own subjective feelings onto the situation and approaching it as a political cause.

      Stordok’s most recent post above is an excellent example of this. Equating those who disagree with him as racists and homophobes …. pleeeze! This is the *Al Sharpton* approach: scream “discrimination” to get your way. (and AMEN to Kathy, Bren, and Mom of 7’s responses).

      In their sloppy-agape version of “inclusion”, Mrs. Race and other political activists fail to realize that this particular boy’s out-of-control behavior does not belong in this particular setting. It’s not helping him, and it’s a very real safety issue for others.

      PS: The link below has one of the best responses by a mother of a severely autistic child. First are comments by a priest defending Carol Race’s position. Be sure to read Darcee’s response which follows.

      http://simplycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/about-carol-race-from-someone-who-knows-her/

    • Bren

      Redtown: Thanks for that link. To me it seems like the argument is coming down to some think he is being banned because he is an eyesore or just disruptive, which in my mind, would be discrimination. Others think he exhibited truly dangerous behavior and doubt the parents ability to control him. Which is a matter of public safety. Since the church really hasn’t said much other than what was originally filed with the restraining order and the mom has said a lot to the media, maybe the real argument has gotten twisted. Even the priest in that link did not get the full context of why he was banned. It was interesting to hear Darcee, who has walked in Stordok’s shoes, have the same opinion of those of us who haven’t. Stordok, maybe you lack Perspective and Theory of Mind!

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William, It’s clearly also all about the Catholic church, perhaps?

      I should note that many of the parents of autistic children who are commenting here have been regular readers of Autism Vox and there have been lots of these sorts of discussions about exclusion, inclusion, dealing with challenging behaviors and the like.

      @Reen, thanks for that link and thanks to Samantha for pointing out those other posts—-here and here.

      There’s also been plenty of discussion of the use of the time-out procedure, as in this post.

      Voces sententiaeque multae audiantur!

    • William

      Chuck, I’ll say it again.
      The Catholic Mass is not a classroom to be used by parents of unruly children to try to teach their kids to sit still.

      Chuck, how did I make it all about autism?
      You said, “All children are annoying. All children are disturbing. All children are a distraction. All children are out of control, and all children have the potential of being dangerous to themselves and others.”

      I disagree with you.
      NOT ALL children are like that.
      Apparently your church could make better use of their Sunday School, so that the adults and well behaved children can enjoy the Mass.

      I believe in putting people where they can thrive.
      A rambunctious child belongs where they can express their energy safely in fun ways.
      That same child is stifled when forced to sit still and quiet during a ceremony that they do not understand and aren’t interested in.

    • Meredith

      Redtown,

      Considering you have seem to have spent countless hours posting on every blog that mentions this issue, I really question how terribly objective your perspective is. I have also found that when a person tells you they have “worked with these people” they aren’t giving themselves much of a recommendation. Nurse Ratchet comes to mind. She certainly “worked with the people”.

      The truth is, the general public is not and are not the “rational ones” in all of this, and the parents of children with severe autism who request inclusion the “hysterical demanding ones”. Both sides have their own bias in the situation.

      Conveniently, our society has already chosen to deal with the question of how to balance the rights of the many with the rights of the few in a little venue we call the justice system. That system has already determined that the rights of the few will be honored to the greatest extent possible, and those with disabilities will be restricted and excluded to the least extent possible given reason.

      It’s already the law, and what it determines is that if Adam Race may reasonably be included in the general Catholic community with accommodations that separate him from the parishioners, and if it is reasonable to assume the parishioners are safe, then your prejudice and fear that you “might not really be safe” and your preference to not be near Adam is subordinate to Adam’s rights to be part of the community.

      And that would be because if it is possible to keep him under control and segregated with accommodations, then you are the one who is being irrational, and according to the law, discriminatory.

      Given Carol Race has requested reasonable accommodations that have been denied, (such as being allowed two pews to separate her from everyone else) and given a report of reasonable accommodations provided by a behavioral expert was ignored by the parish, my guess is that the Church will indeed have an uphill battle making its case.

    • Chuck

      William,

      The Catholic Mass is a classroom to teach everyone. Period.

      “I disagree with you. NOT ALL children are like that. ”

      Have you talked to a parent or an elementary school teacher recently? The last time I checked there were no perfect children or adults on the face of the Earth. Also, the last time I checked it was not up to CCD teachers to teach children to behave, it is still up to the parents. Our local CCD classes are excellent, most likely better and more understanding then yours, definitely better then where Adam was.

      “That same child is stifled when forced to sit still and quiet during a ceremony that they do not understand and aren’t interested in.”

      I wasn’t born Catholic, but from my observations, most Catholic parents do not adhere to that belief.

    • Bren

      Meredith, I do agree with you that the courts will decide. I just hate the fact that this has become an autism discrimination discussion.

      It is my own personal opinion that those that are the first to call someone intolerant/discriminatory, are the epitome of intolerance/discrimination. “Your opinion doesn’t count, because you are not a parent of an autistic child!” “You don’t have perspective and lack skills to develop a perspective.” Fortunately, I am allowed to have an opinion, just like others who may not have direct knowledge on banking, abortion, war, etc. etc. etc. have opinions all the time.

      Most people are loving, caring, and sympathetic and want to do the right thing. However, there are times when peoples rights cross and something has to be decided. In this case it is the right of the church to ban an individual who they see as a physical threat to the congregation vs. a mom who very much wants her son to be treated normally and does not view his behavior as physically dangerous. It will be interesting to hear the testimony. So far it has been pretty one-sided with the mother being the primary person talking to the media.

      Unfortunately, the church has experience with lawsuits. I cannot imagine they would have made these decisions if they did not have a strong case.

      Would it have been discrimination if the school in Denver had expelled those two boys before they shot and killed all the kids in the school? By all accounts, they behaved strangely, threatened violence, etc. If the school had more knowledge of this and they stepped in and said, “you pose a threat to the students and teachers of this school. Based on your behavior, we believe that you will hurt someone. ” Would that be considered discrimination against some emotionally disturbed kids who lost the power of perspective. Years of bullying had traumatized them. Why can’t we be more accepting of those two boys and be inclusive?

      Society intervenes all the time when physical safety is at stake. To me this should be universal, not contingent on the circumstances causing that behavior.

    • Reen

      Chuck, how can you make any sort of statement about the quality of religious education in Adam’s diocese? I find it amazing the people feel the right to throw out such unsubstantiated statements. You know nothing about this town other than what the mother and the media has portrayed. She said she attend mass there since 1996 with no incidences until June of ’07. To me it sounds like they are very welcoming and tolerant. They even gave her an award in 2005. Something changed. People don’t wake up one day and say “Lets kick out that Autistic Boy”.

    • Chuck

      Reen,

      If they were understanding enough to educate him, then they should have been understanding enough to help him attend mass. That obviously did not happen and it should have. That is what we do in our CCD classes. I have not seen any form of outreach from the church to this family in any publication.

    • Redtown

      Meredith,

      How does the fact that I comment on other blogs effect my objectivity on this issue? You also dismiss my experience as a Special Ed teacher, one who’s worked with autistic children, as somehow irrelevant. There are clearly specious and gratuitous attempts to discredit my perspectives.

      It remains to be seen how the courts will apply the law, and how they will balance public safety concerns. The courts may or may not agree with your view of what constitutes “reasonable accommodation”.

      You say that giving two pews to the family is enough to solve safety problems. But that will not stop incidents which occur *outside the pews,* such as when Adam bolts and wanders from the pews and *his parents can’t physically restrain him,* or in the communion line when he hits others, or in the parking lot when he starts up cars. And there are accounts that some of the urinating was not just accidental; that he has exposed himself to do so on the floor.

      The Races not only want two whole pews (in this tiny church), they also demand that the whole congregation remain seated until they leave. This means that other handicapped and elderly parishioners, who usually try to be the first out, will also have to wait until they leave.

      The church, on the other hand, offered them both private Masses at home, and a private library in the church to view Mass on closed-circuit TV. Carol Race is quoted as saying that SHE doesn’t want to watch Mass on TV.

      In short, Carol Race demands that everyone else jump through hoops to accommodate her — still with no guarantee of public safety outside the two pews — while she makes zero attempt to accommodate anyone else. So we’ll see whom the courts find to be reasonable and unreasonable.

      As a former SPED teacher, I’ve been party to action to enforce the ADA. But Carol Race really pushes the envelope to the extreme, like the people in wheelchairs who sued the farmer because he wouldn’t hire them for physical farm work.

      Cases like this create longterm backlash against the ADA and related laws. I’m glad to see that most of the parents of autistic children bogging on this issue do NOT support the Race’s position.

    • Chuck

      Reen,

      Unless this town’s beliefs are different then the Pope’s when it comes to understanding and acceptace, then I know what should be done, do you? Did the town do that or not?

    • Reen

      Chuck:
      I also thought it was the responsibility to provide a SAFE environment to worship. To me, it sounds like they worked with the Race family fairly extensively. As she said, she attended the church for 11+ years with no complaints or problems.

      Do you know that she had Adam in CCD classes? I don’t.

      They also tried to accomodate her and her family while protecting the rest of the congregation, but these options were not accessible. A priest coming to her house for a private mass is not accomodating?

      Chuck, at what point would you say someone should not be allowed in church? Or is there a point? Nobody answers that question.

    • LaRe

      “Unless this town’s beliefs are different then the Pope’s when it comes to understanding and acceptace, then I know what should be done…”

      So the congretation and the town is supposed to be “understanding” and show “acceptance” when an adolescent with strong sexual urges grabs a young woman and pulls her body against his?

      The congregation and town should be “understanding” and show “acceptance” when his mother insists that he’s just being friendly and that grabbing her thighs and buttocks was just child’s play?

      I would hope that the Pope would not, like some people here are insisting, turn the other cheek and pretend it’s the girl’s fault and that people are oversensitive. Because that’s what everyone seems to be saying… That there should be no limits or expectations placed on Mrs. Race or Mrs. Race’s son because he just can’t help himself.

      He can expose himself in public and it’s the public’s fault for being oversensitive.

      He can grope a young woman and it’s the public’s fault for being oversensitive.

      He can attack people physically and it’s the public’s fault for being oversensitive.

      He can commandeer a car and place people’s lives at risk but it’s the public’s fault for being oversensitive.

      It’s the public’s fault for being “judgmental.”

      I, for one, hope that the people issuing blanket statements about the town and parish being so horrible and judgmental never have their daughters groped and rubbed against by an out-of-control teen and then BLAMED for not going alont with it. Belittled for not going along with it. Dismissed for even mentioning it or talking about it in the first place.

    • Craig

      We really don’t know what is reasonable in this case. Is the church full, so that reserving two whole pews would mean 20-30 other parishioners have to wait outside every Sunday?

      When the President attends a church service, it is hugely disruptive and displaces numerous persons due to Secret Service protection demands. That’s why Presidents usually have arranged for private services in the White House. (Kennedy did, and he was Catholic.) There’s no stigma to it, and what’s more a priest has to be willing to go the extra mile to support the special need.

      That’s what is at issue here: whether the accommodations offered to Carol Race are reasonable, or whether it is reasonable to assume the parishioners are safe if Carol Race’s wishes are met. Obviously there are disagreements here about both.

      Yes, the Mass is meant for all people, and yes, an opportunity for inclusion is a teaching moment. Most priests I know of will bend over backward to accommodate. Crying babies and smelly winos generally don’t get kicked out; as long as the Sacrament is not profaned, the Mass doesn’t grind to a halt, and the people are not threatened with bodily harm, most parishes are going to live and let live. So the question is, did the parish have a reasonable belief that one of those would be likely to occur?

    • mitch

      i think it is terrible that we can’t bring our children to church.

      as a cathokic i have felt shunned by my church over my autistic children and they aren’t even violent in any way, shape, or form.

      why should my children not be allowed to worship in church ? no matter what their disabilities are they have every right to worship god and too do so in a group setting… like church.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @LaRe, in regard to the actions of Adam Race that you are describing, the statement by Carol Race provides some clarifications.

      As you wrote in an earlier comment:

      “I feel nothing but sadness for her son because I don’t think he’s the problem at all… I think it’s his mother.”

      Indeed—-mothers of autistic children and parents more generally are quite used to being blamed!

    • nhokkanen

      I am disappointed in the inflammatory re-writes of Carol Race’s statement and the text of the restraining order here. People need to go back and re-read before they embellish again.

      Some of the language used in posts here criminalizes the intent of an autistic boy who lacks the understanding of sexual context.

      As I have stated before, the family attended another church Sunday without incident. If the family continues this, what does it say about the helping, welcoming Christian attitude of parishioners at St. Joseph’s? Or the priest who arrived in 2005, when the complaints coincidentally began?

    • Reen

      Mitch: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think children should be included if at all possible. Disruptive is different than violent. I have left church many a time with a disruptive child who could not sit still. Even parents with children who aren’t autistic get dirty looks from some who forgot what it was like to be a parent of a young child! I would hope parents would dismiss themselves if their presence becomes too distracting, but if I had avoided church all together, my kids would never have learned how to behave in that setting.

      When someone is violent or has violent tendencies, to me that is a different discussion all together.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Thanks for noting that, Nancy. I have also been………fascinated (if that’s the right word) by how, regardless of experience with autistic persons, judgments have been delivered and assumptions made about autism.

    • http://www.rettdevil.org Kassiane

      Holy epic comment thread.

      There are so many perspectives it’s impossible to cut through to the truth, but as an autistic raised by “come hell or high water we are GOING TO CHURCH” parents, these are the questions I have:

      -Does Adam want to go? Incense is overstimulating. All the people are overstimulating. People singing off key..ugh…just no.

      -Why on EARTH are they tying anyone up? No. You don’t do that. It’s not acceptable. Ever.

    • http://club166.blogspot.com Club 166

      Why do I get the feeling that many who are posting on this topic would be much happier if all those crazy autistic people (especially the big scary ones) would be put back in institutions where they belong (or at least locked up at home)?

      I think the Race family laid it out fairly clear. What is being talked about is not a consistent pattern of problems, but a few isolated incidents.

      “Normal” people expect little children to act out, and are thus tolerant of it. When children that are adult size act out, they’re viewed as “crazy”, “violent”, and “dangerous”.

      Shame on that priest and his hypocritical acts.

      Joe

    • LaRe

      “Some of the language used in posts here criminalizes the intent of an autistic boy who lacks the understanding of sexual context.”

      So because he has no intent to pull an adolescent onto his lap and grab her thighs and buttocks, that somehow makes it OK? The parish and the town should just let that go… Pretend it didn’t happen… Mind their own business because he ‘didn’t mean it?’

      It certainly doesn’t make it less traumatic for the girl who was grabbed. And Mrs. Race and dismiss it as a misunderstanding all she wants, but it was still serious enough that the girl was sent back to Poland. The girl has to ponder that experience for the rest of her life, whether (as Mrs. Race insists) it was no big deal and people were just being judgmental of her son. Should people have just watched him grab her and turned a blind eye? Because he can’t help it?

      Maybe the boy can’t, but Mrs. Race certainly could have. Justifying sexualized behavior like that scares me… Because if he’s 13 now, what happens the next time he pulls a girl to him, when he’s older, and bigger, and Mrs. Race refuses to react?

      As for this statement… “Indeed—-mothers of autistic children and parents more generally are quite used to being blamed!”

      So if the boy isn’t supposed to be blamed because he can’t help it, and Mrs. Race shouldn’t be blamed because her son can’t help it, then where does that leave society? Are we just supposed to allow a pubescent teenager whose hormones exceed his reasoning grab and touch and fondle anything and anyone he feels like it because he’s a poor lost soul?

      Someone said, “…regardless of experience with autistic persons, judgments have been delivered and assumptions made about autism.” My judgment, my assumption, is that just because someone has autism they are not angelic; they are quite capable of causing great harm or great good, provoking moments of beauty and reflection or causing unsuspecting people to be groped and manhandled and sexually touched in inappropriate ways.

      I think, in this case, the onus was on Mrs. Race to protect another child, an exchange student in her home, from being groped. And instead of protecting her, she made excuses for her son. That tells me the woman has a serious lack of judgment and responsibility. If that’s “blaming” her, then yes… Sign me up. I hold parents responsible if they don’t step UP to the plate to stop their children’s inappropriate, harmful sexual behavior and instead blame everyone and anyone in their path instead.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @LaRe,

      Do you have an autistic child or relative, or other experience with autistic individuals? (You don’t need to respond if you’d prefer not to.) Very best.

      @Kassiane,

      Not that we’re able to organize another conference like the one you spoke at, but I guess this would be a topic of some sort!

    • Mike Petrik

      Personally, I do not see how LaRe’s experience or lack of experience with autistic children is relevant. The points he or she makes stand or fall on their own merit.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Mike Petrik,

      this being an autism blog……..we generally discuss autism here. Very best.

    • LaRe

      Yes, I have 30+ years experience with autism. It’s very telling that my words and opinion are only valid because of that, though… That if it weren’t true everything I’ve said would mean absolutely nothing, in some people’s opinions.

      That sound a lot like Mrs. Race’s reasoning, actually… That she’s above and beyond judgment, and her son is above and beyond judgment, because everyone else in the world ‘just doesn’t get it.’

    • Mike Petrik

      I see, thanks. I would have thought that the question under discussion is under what circumstances is it appropriate to prevent a child from attending a Mass. One would think that it would be the manner and type of disruption that would be relevant, not whether the child is autistic. The fact that you seem to think the latter is the key issue explains why you and some others seem to have concluded that any and all manner of disruption, even risk of harm and violence, is just fine. Wow.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Thanks to LaRe; are there teaching techniques that you would suggest? Welcome to Autism Vox to Mike Petrik!

    • carol S

      as a mother of a young woman with autism and bipolar disorder, I can tell you that this is not a unique situation.
      I have compassion for this family. They lead a life that is not for the weary or faint of heart.

      We had trouble having my daughter receive her first communion. We were able to work things out and my daughter did get her communion…but we have received rude comments from people who do not understand my daughters situation. She is not like this boy but shuts down in a setting with lots of people. she sleeps. so I let her..
      I know that in my parish, they hold a special needs mass once a month for those parishoners who have trouble sitting through a regular Mass. It is shorter. Maybe this parish could start such a Mass.

      I can see both sides of this story. It is very sad that the priest could not have been more compassionate to the family. I am certain that the family could have found a compromise…
      This young man has problems that the family is trying to deal with on a daily basis. There is no cure.. God Loves this young man.. as much as He loves you.
      It is important for him to have a relationship with God. I wish that it did not get this far.

      sometimes the only thing left in our lives is our faith in God. And the need for communion with other members of the faith community…

      I wish we could all show more compassion to those who are different from ourselves… Remember, Jesus is also with those with special needs…

    • Chuck

      Reen

      Parishioners at my previous church often offered to assist me when my son became aggressive and our priest often offered him praise before and after the sermons. He now enjoys mass as part of his Sunday routine.

    • Reen

      Club 166- Once again, I see it as a safety issue. A parent can usually restrain a toddler before they hit another child. If playing and a toddler hits another toddler, damage is minimal due to the size. Multiply that size by 7x and it is a different experience. Nothing makes me happier when I attend my St. Paul suburban church and I see all people together celebrating mass despite whatever cross they bear. However, if there is a real threat of danger, it needs to be addressed.

      nhokkanen-I think you could use a fact checker as well. Carol Race indicated that the complaints started June of ’07. So Fr. Walz had been there 2 years without incident. Also, since the restraining order and Mrs. Race’s versions differ quite a bit. I don’t think it is as clear cut to take everything Mrs. Race says on face value.

      Kassiane- Thank you for your comments. I am a non-autistic daughter of a “come hell or high water we are going to church parents”:) I don’t know much about those with autism, but am definitely learning. I was really troubled by the use of restraints, especially in such a public setting. Others on this site seemed to think that was okay. Part of practicing my faith is accepting the dignity in all. I don’t see someone being bound up as being dignified.

    • Chuck

      Mike, Lare, and Reen

      How many weeks would you have watched my son scream and sometimes strike me before you would have asked us to leave the church?

    • LaRe

      “Mike, Lare, and Reen
      How many weeks would you have watched my son scream and sometimes strike me before you would have asked us to leave the church?”

      You are an adult. If you ask me how many times I would allow you to let your son grope an adolescent girl unrelated to you, I would hope YOU would stop it first — not make excuses for your son and blame anyone who might have an issue with him doing it in the first place.

    • Reen

      Chuck:
      I would say that I would be much more tolerant of your son’s situation than a child screaming who was not autistic. Is that discriminatory:) Sure, it might be annoying, but I admire the goal and would be excited in the success you have had. But once again, the parents on this site are quick to tell us we are intolerant, we would complain, we want autistic kids locked away. That could not be further from the truth! I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt. It is one thing to say that your child struck you. It is quite another to say that a child, who happens to have the body of a man, struck someone else or knocked someone else down.

    • LaRe

      “Thanks to LaRe; are there teaching techniques that you would suggest? Welcome to Autism Vox to Mike Petrik!”

      Oh, come on… Passive aggressive bait and cutesy passive aggressive greetings are hardly conducive to actual dialogue. I don’t have “teaching techniques to suggest” any more than anybody on here has a “cure” for the common cold. I do have opinions on Mrs. Race making lots and lots of bend-over-backwards excuses and then adults jumping to her defense simply — and only, as far as I can tell — because she has a son with autism… As if that excuses her from having to participate in society somehow and gives her a free pass to do anything she wants under the guise of compassion.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @LaRe,
      Thanks! As a teacher (of Latin and Greek and Classics), I think it’s necessary to move this discussion forward and seek novel ways to address such situations. It’s been quite an education to read the various opinions here, but practical, concrete solutions might be most helpful. Very best—–

    • http://www.unclesamscabin.blogspot.com Samantha

      Oh, come on… Passive aggressive bait and cutesy passive aggressive greetings are hardly conducive to actual dialogue.

      LaRae, I find Kristina’s calm and kind response to all comers on her blog quite refreshing given the general tone of comments on blogs and the tone one often encounters when discussing anything related to autism in particular.

    • Chuck

      Reen

      How would you know that my 180 pound child is autistic?

      I cannot tell you how many times my son and I have been “judged” by people who believe they know better then I do and never give my son the respect he deserves.

    • Chuck

      LaRe,

      “You are an adult.”
      I will take that to mean that you would not have any problems with a child striking an adult during mass then?

    • Chuck

      “Yes, I have 30+ years experience with autism.”
      “I don’t have “teaching techniques to suggest” any more than anybody on here has a “cure” for the common cold.”

      What did that 30+ years of experience teach you about autism then?

      If you are not willing to share you experience in your field, then what good was getting it in the first place?

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Kristina is not being passive aggressive. She’s being the way she always is on her blog–receptive, mediating, useful. LaRe, you appear to really want to engage in some kind of smackdown here. I can tell you that Kristina is not going to go there. Others will, though.

      And I suggest you re-read Ms. Race’s description of what happened with the exchange student, the zero-tolerance policies of the program, and her suggestion that anyone who would like should contact the student, freely, without reservation. Rape/assault/sexual misconduct are all serious charges to level at someone and carry above all the requirement of intent. You’re taking this discussion to places that it doesn’t belong, your whatever years of autism involvement notwithstanding.

      Chuck…I guess hell has frozen over because I’m nodding my head all over the place reading your comments.

      Kassiane, thanks for that perspective. I would never do that to my own children, but I’ve never come close to having to consider it.

      This situation has layers on layers. There’s the argument that he’s been autistic and attending church for years. But then there’s also the observation that the priest just arrived in 2005 and that the complaints began then. There’s been a whole lot of twisting of what the order says and what the mother says, to the point that it’s practically become a game of Telephone/Gossip. There have been a whole lot of assumptions made about motive and intent on the part of every party involved. The only thing that’s clear to me here is that the priest should not have gotten a restraining order. It simply does not appear to have been justified. Given how difficult it is for grown women being stalked with ill intent and serious adverse effects by crazy, “neurotypical” grown men to obtain a restraining order, I believe, regardless of who’s story is most accurate, that not even the worst version of what I’ve read here of this boy’s behavior necessitated that course of action.

      What is it Kristina says? I’m trying so hard to learn good manners. Oh, I remember. “Very best.”

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      “…whose story….”

      As they say on the message boards, I’m “definately” “loosing” it.

      Very best.

    • http://club166.blogspot.com/ Club 166

      Reen (and anyone else that sees it as a “safety issue”),

      When lawyers bring charges, they trump up every little thing to make it sound as bad as they can. Even with the priest’s lawyer making it sound as bad as possible, I have seen no mention of any actual harm caused by the 13 year old. Would you take out a restraining order on any person that accidently bumped into an old person and “almost” knocked them down? I would have to take out restraining orders on lots of old people at my church who don’t see so well and bump into me all the time.

      The perception of danger is not the same as actual danger. He’s big, and he makes noises sometimes, and he just doesn’t belong here!
      Why can’t they keep him hidden away someplace? So we can sit here in peace and talk about being Christian, instead of being challenged once a week to actually act like one?

      And yes, I’m going a lot by what the mother says, but it rings a lot truer to me, from my experiences parenting an autistic son.

      Joe

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Following up on Club166:

      Like Carol Race, I’m the mother of an autistic son. Parents of autistic children have strongly different opinions on many topics—on the causes of autism, the best educational practices, other sorts of treatment, much more—-we’re not in agreement about a great deal. But at the end of the day we, being parents of autistic children, share a great, great deal and even more.

      And sure, we may well be wrong on various fronts. I think we are often not afraid to be wrong: If not for us, who will stand up for our children?

    • Kathy

      “There are so many perspectives it is impossible to cut through to the truth.”

      So true Kassiane.

      Like you, I have questioned,

      1. Does Adam want to go to church?.

      2.Why are they using restraints?

      ” It’s not acceptable. Ever.”
      Too right it isn’t Kassiane.

      These very important issues seem to have taken a backseat in the squabbling over who is right and who is wrong.

      It certainly was not right for the priest to get a restraining order.It has only exacerbated this sorry saga. And polarized the community.That is one fact that we CAN be sure of.

      However, this is no good guy versus bad guy situation.
      And sadly, it appears that an impasse has been reached.

      I see no winners here.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Kathy, I think the impasse is evident—-for me, it’s necessary now to begin to think of what can be done now to include autistic individuals in religious settings, and to keep things focused on a case-by-case and concrete basis. Generalizations always worry me.

    • Chuck

      The definition of irony:

      Rev. Daniel Walz slaps the family of an autistic child with a restraining order in the same month that the Bishop of his diocese, Bishop John F. Kinney, declares May as “Mental Health Awareness Month” and posts these inspirational words on the diocese web site:

      www. Stcdio.org/cem/PersonNew/ParishNurse508 . htm

      Apparently Rev. Daniel Walz wasn’t part of the choir listening to words like, “If you are a person with a mental illness, don’t let the fear or anticipation of being stigmatized prevent you from seeking treatment.” or “People may not know how to help you. Share your experiences.”

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Textbook example!

    • Reen

      Maybe all of you parents of autistic kids feel justified in judging those of us who don’t have autistic kids. But aren’t you now guilty of what you are accusing the priest and others of doing. I don’t judge parents who struggle with their children. I admire them that they are there for the struggle! I judge those that don’t care enough to struggle. I can only imagine the trials and tribulations of what you must face, you live them. Not everyone is out to get you! However, you don’t begin to understand the trials of the rest of us, so please don’t judge.

      One thing I learned through some of my own trials,”act like a victim, get treated like a victim.” Who cares if someone gives you a dirtly look, who cares if someone makes a comment. We are never victims! We live in a country where we are free to achieve–some may question that, but I don’t!

      Obviously there are two parties at complete ends of the spectrum. There is a parish who feels that there is a public safety issue and there is a mom who thinks her son poses no danger to those around. I think both parties are sincere and stubborn in their beliefs. Obviously, there needs to be some middle ground.

    • nhokkanen

      Some here may recognize my name as one of the “Mercury Militia.” Yes, we parents of children with autism definitely disagree on a variety of topics. But regarding fair treatment and inclusion for our children, our worlds overlap.
      I appreciate Kristina’s respectful tone and her prioritization of collaborative solutions. Many here, including myself, should remember that a sneer may get attention at first, but won’t hold it for long.
      I have forwarded links on inclusion posted here to a Minnesota parent listserv. Some ideas are in the works and when they’re announced, I’ll pass them along. It’s been sadly enlightening to read so many stories of church disinclusion this past week as parents finally feel empowered to speak up on this topic.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Yes, time for everyone to start learning different ways to address these sorts of situation—and accepting difference is key.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @nhokkanen,
      thanks very much Nancy—-this case has been an eye-opener for me. I really look forward to hearing about any ideas—onward.

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    • lambchop

      I have been afraid of Carol in the past. She is overbearing and obstinate. When the priest and board member talked to the family, they did not obey. Then Carol went against the restraining order. She is headstong, and abrasive. The law had to be called in to the situation, because Carol has been pushing the buttons in the schools, churches, and community. I don’t think she will listen to anyone. So the tough guys had to be called in. I have had the experience of her being an “authority” about a marital situation, and she was not even married at that time. The advise was very bad. She has a one track mind, and it took the law to be involved to give her a wake up call. It’s not about the boy in my opinion. It’s about Carol and her pushy ways.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @lambchop,
      I rather suspect that more than a few of us who are parents of autistic children appear to be “headstrong.” As I wrote above, a parent feels—even knows—that if it is not for them, no one will stand up for a child with many needs.

    • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

      Bren and Reen,

      Come off your high horses! I never called anyone a homophobe or a racist. I gave an appropriate ANALOGY for the fight for autistic rights being similar to other minority groups. You just don’t like the fact that I am direct and that I called you on your deficiencies, your lack of perspective. Why is it so hard for you to admit that, not being a parent or an autist, you really don’t know their perspective? It isn’t narrowminded to point that out. You are narrowminded to not admit to yourselves you lack this perspective. Who is really flinging mud?

      This case IS about discrimination. If it goes to court, the entire question will be, were the rights of an autist discriminated against? You can’t take a case to court about “behaviors”. I’m not even saying there definitely is discrimination, because no one here knows enough to really make that determination. That will be for the courts to decide.

      My own personal opinion which I have not stated before, and what I have done with my son, is attempted to make accommadations at church by sitting in the children’s room for services and basically being his one on one aide. Many churches pay lip service to inclusion, but when your child gets old enough and the tantrums or stimming or ADHD symptoms aren’t “cute” anymore and “why doesn’t he just behave and grow out of it”, many parents like myself stop going. My personal feelings are that I do not want to disrupt another person’s experience at church, and I wouldn’t want to put my son through it when he wasn’t getting anything out of it. I don’t want to constantly be on him and say “no, don’t do that”. We will wait for him to get older and hopefully gain more self-control and then find a church that is inclusive, and try again.

      I don’t know if it truly rises to the level of discrimination based on what has been reported here. I do know that on a daily basis, members of minority groups and the disabled are discriminated against, decisions made solely on the basis of their disability or whatever characteristic a person has.

      You take offense to being told you lack perspective, but it’s the truth! I lack perspective on a lot of things, I admit it freely. In medicine, we learn that the more we know, the less we really know. I admit I don’t know what it is like to live as a blind person, since I am not blind. I would not presume to tell a blind person that I know how you feel, because I don’t. I LISTEN. Likewise, you are not the parent of an autist and you are not an autist. That is a statement of fact. It is not a criticism. You may have worked for 30 years with autists, been a SPED teacher, but you still aren’t an expert in the experiences of an autist and of a parent. You should admit it to yourselves and then take the next step, how do I find out more about their perspectives?

      Go to a place like Cafemom, where there are almost 10,000 moms blogging daily about their joys and sorrows and struggles. I have been a co-administrator of this group. Most of the struggles the moms face are because people don’t understand and don’t take the time to understand how they and their child/children really feel. They make assumptions about our lives. I have been sharing these women’s lives now for over a year, so I do understand from not just my perspective, but from almost 10,000 other perspectives. I may not agree with all of Mrs. Races tactics and her strong desire to go to church, but I understand her hopes to worship together as a family and have her son included.

      Then there is the autistic perspective. It has been lost in all this, even though at least two autists have commented here. Just because you may work with autists or live with them, doesn’t mean you understand their perspectives either. I feel sad that their voices are the least heard in society. How many autist blogs do you read on a daily basis? How many stories of autists have you read? How many do you talk to and correspond with? I have been priviliged to correspond with several autists and meet them and talk to them at conferences. I read their blogs daily, to try to understand their feelings and perspectives, which range from wanting a cure to not wanting a cure, from neurodiversity to not believing in neurodiversity.

      You are entitled to your opinions, but your responses here have shown me you are not open to criticism and learning from it. My objection to your comments here is from your lack of understanding BOTH points of view. Both sides in this particular case are polarized. They need a middle ground. The one thing that should NOT have been done was for the Priest to get a restraining order.

      You get defensive and start lashing out, calling me narrowminded. Don’t come to an autism blog expecting to be an authority and discount the thoughts and feelings of parents of autists and then complain when you don’t get the respect you think you are entitled to. Your egos were threatened, get over it. This isn’t about you. It’s about our kids.

    • Reen

      Storkdok, Flinging mud, you were the one claiming that I lack any sort of perspective. My perspective is representative of what may very well decide the case…I never claimed to be an expert. I claimed to have an opinion based on not having any particular bias one way or another. I also said that I cannot begin to relate to what the parents with autistic kids go through on a daily basis. You were the one who misrepresented what I said. However, I am allowed to have an opinion. Maybe it is the opinions of those that don’t live this 24/7 that should be given some merit. I have no particular bias. My opinions are based on me wanting to go to church and worship and get something out of it. They are also formed out of being a parent and knowing that our children do not always behave the way we want them to behave. Where is the balance? If you don’t take your child to church, they will never learn how to behave in that setting. If you do, you might risk tantrums, dirty looks, etc.

      I do take exception to the fact that this issue is being compared to someone who is homosexual or african american being discriminated against. The issue is does he pose a danger to those around him. We go to court all the time about behavior. Crimes are prosecuted based on behavior. Up until 2007, Carol Race indicated that there were no issues, implying that they attended church just fine and were accepted.

      All that being said…I do appreciate your comments about your own church going. It is a fine line of how much do we get out of church when we have to put all of our attention into our children, of how much the child is getting out of church, and are we being so distracting that we are causing others to not be able to worship. It wasn’t until just recently that my husband and I were able to start going to church together again.

      Finally, I understand the tendency to blame the church. However, it does take two to tango. Some valid questions, that have not been made clear, is what led up to the restraining order? I really don’t think a church would take that step lightly or at least I hope not. We don’t know all the facts yet.

      Remember, just because we haven’t walked in your shoes, doesn’t mean that we cannot be compassionate and understanding of the trials that you face.

    • Mom of 7

      I think that it is telling christina that you asked us not to talk emotional response but give steps to bring a positive resolution, which I did but they were not posted.

      While it is not our “fault” that our children are disruptive, we must own that they are and that we can proactively work at diminishing that fact for those around us.

      Our goal should not only be inclusion but inclusion in a manner that doesn’t infringe on the rights and needs of others.

    • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

      Thank you, Reen. I do appreciate your last remarks.

      Just to let you and others know, I lived for 40 years without autism in my life. I know this perspective.

      I thought I understood my patients who had kids with special needs, I really tried hard to help them with what they were facing. I got them connected to appropriate support groups, shared their tears and joys, helped them through some truly difficult times in their lives. No one really understands what it feels like to experience pregnancy and labor and delivery, even though that is my specialty and I have delivered over 2,000 babies, until it actually happens to you, and believe me, it sure changed my mind about the experience! Just like that, I never truly understood what my patients felt and the daily joys and triumphs as well as the difficult moments until after my son was diagnosed. It is very different to be a mom. I remember one mom who had 2 boys with ADHD. I just couldn’t understand why she was having a break down, and thinking, why can’t she just control them, give them their meds, things should be fine, they are both in school, she has the whole day to herself…I now understand the stress of her situation, the relentlessness of her son’s behaviors, their meds wearing off after school and the kids innability to “behave”, it wasn’t their fault. I am ashamed at my thoughts now, I feel terrible that I judged her in my mind. I’m sure many people think the same thing about my son.

      I understand Carol Race’s feelings and her attempts to include her son. My son is only 7 years old, we have a few years to go before puberty. I know puberty is difficult for all kids, but it is an especially trying time for kids on the spectrum. I suspect her son’s more recent behaviors are related to puberty. I’m not looking forward to puberty! Most parents don’t. But I will approach it with the same way I have approached everything else, step back, try to get a grasp of the big picture, look at things from everyones POV, and try to formulate a plan.

      I can appreciate your taking exception with the comments about discrimination. I also took exception with these comparisons in the past, until I started listening and reading many autist’s blogs, which use these comparisons. I was shocked at first to read about neurodiversity, because as a physician, it is “obviously a disorder”, but I kept reading and asking questions of autists, and I do see the analogy now. Not everyone agrees with “neurodiversity”, but if autists are expressing their feelings and frustrations after years of being treated like their thoughts and feelings don’t matter, I can understand it. I am trying hard, for my son’s sake, to understand how he is feeling and might feel in the future. I certainly do not want him to think of himself as “diseased” or “in need of a cure”, as I feel that will damage his self-esteem. I want him to understand his differences and accept himself and “like to be in his own skin”.

    • Reen

      This whole discussion reminds me of something I heard since I was a little kid, “Nobody says life would be fair!” It stinks, but isn’t that the truth.

      I think if everyone had a little more patience and a little more respect for everyone else, things would be a 100% better. Maybe that means listening to outbursts as a parent struggles through mass with their child or maybe it means taking your child out of church when the struggle becomes so distracting for everyone else. Common courtesies do not exist these days!

    • http://club166blogspot.com Club 166

      @lambchop,
      Thanks for your personal perspective. Newsreporters often get things wrong, and just go for the sensationalistic aspect.

      Although Ms. Race appears to be a pain in the butt and a know it all, I still don’t think those offenses rise to the point of needing a restraining order against her son. If you have personally observed any of the actions that have been described in the restraining order, that would be helpful to hear about.

      @Reen,
      Thank you for your kind words regarding parents of special needs kids. I know you feel like you’re being judged, but I guess I don’t see that in the comments. What I do see is people trying to explain the perspective from an autistic point of view, as well as from the view of parenting an autistic child.

      In society, there are a few areas left where it is OK to openly say derogatory things about another person. People that are obese and smokers are still OK to “diss” in public. And so are those with developmental disabilities and mental health concerns. Several months ago I gently admonished one of my African American co-workers for making a “short bus” joke. My co-worker seems to be a nice guy, but didn’t get at first why I would be offended by his joke. Sometimes it’s hard to see what others struggle against.

      As to the restraining order, from what I’ve read it seems to stem from this one priest, and not the church in general. Though now that the restraining order has been filed, the church has chosen to back him up. I’m not sure, but the church may be reflexively siding with him to cover their own butt. Since Ms. Race appears to have a somewhat abrasive personality, this may have entered into their decision.

      I don’t think that anyone is saying that the safety of other parishioners is not important. But if, as Ms. Race has recounted, her family usually sits in the crying room or the last pew in the church, and leaves when things get too disruptive, then I don’t see what the big deal is.

      Having a restraining order filed against you by an official of your church is certainly not as big a slap in the face as when priests took sexual advantage of kids in their parish. But some of the same sense of being abandoned by G_d and your community in your time of need still occurs. Everyone should feel welcomed and safe in church. From what I’ve read there doesn’t seem to be an excess chance of violence against parishioners here.

      No place or situation is 100% safe. As most people get older, usually one of the last places that they give up driving to is church. So if you drive to church you are more likely to encounter marginal drivers in the parking lot, who have a greater chance of not seeing you and running into you, or mistaking the gas for the brake and accidentally running into you. But no one takes out restraining orders against them.

      Like Kristina, I would like to see education of the priests and parishioners into autism (as well as other neurological differences) so that understanding and reasonable accommodation can result in the inclusion of the vast majority of individuals in regular services. Separate but equal didn’t work for schooling blacks, and generally isn’t a desirable solution for attending church services, either.

      Joe

    • Chuck

      The question that needs to be answered, from a Catholic perspective are:

      Did Rev. Walz heed the words of Bishop Kinney for “Mental Health Awareness Month”?

      Did this situation shine a better light on the Catholic Church in general?

      Unfortunately, as a practicing Catholic, I would have to say no to both questions.

      What Bishop Kinney decides to do for this situation may be the only resolution to these problems as the Races are still in his diocese.

    • Reen

      Thanks Joe:
      Unfortunately, and thanks to the media, the facts of the case have not been determined. Nor are any of us direct witnesses to this particular situation. So it is difficult to determine if it was an over reaction by the priest or if Adam’s behavior changed (maybe coinciding with going through puberty). I do feel sorry for those that live in the town, they are made to look like bigots and intolerant, when we don’t know that to be the case. Sometimes the media whips everyone up in a frenzy, without giving all sides of the story.

      You talk about the few areas left to say derogatory things: I would also say that it is still okay to slam certain religions. Maybe this is even more sensitive issue since many Catholics feel like they don’t get a fair shake, especially with the media-elite!

      I think what gets confused in this debate is the difference between disruptive behavior and dangerous behavior. I, for one, don’t really care if someone has outbursts, etc. My concern would change if that person’s actions repeatedly resulted in the potential of others getting hurt (running into people, pushing, hitting, etc.). This goes for all children of all ages! That concern doesn’t come out of intolerance, bigotry, hatred. It is just a general concern that we don’t want others to get hurt. It is yet to be determined if those are the facts in this case.

      I echo your sentiments on the driving to church, try going to church in Marco Island FL:) You are taking your life into your hands!

    • lambchop

      Serenity Prayer

      God, grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change,
      courage to change the things I can,
      and the wisdom to know the difference.

      Living one day at a time,
      enjoying one moment at a time,
      accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
      taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
      not as I would have it;
      trusting that He will make all things right
      if I surrender to His will;
      that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
      and supremely happy with Him forever
      in the next.

      Where is Carol’s wisdom? She is a college educated woman. She has the courage to change things that she can………..however, changing things by being pushy and abrasive will not work. It is not the way a Christian should be behaving. I feel many parts of this prayer are helpful in this situation. It’s time to quite fitting and playing, look at me…..and accept those things you cannot change. I will be very interested to see what happens in court in June.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen regarding “common courtesies”—

      I think it’s good, ultimately, that we struggle with these issues. In the past, autistic children were quickly institutionalized and kept “away” from society. It’s not easy to include autistic children, to teach them; it’s not easy to change ourselves to think how this might be done. Certainly, many years ago in St. Paul, I did not feel I could change to do all that I need to truly help Charlie.

      It’s a work in progress, and it’s very good work, and a true calling.

    • Chuck

      Even Jesus saw the need to be pushy and abrasive at times. Does it ultimately help or hinder the human condition is what needs to be decided.

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    • William

      I am percieving a certain amount of denseness and selfishness and bullheaded stubbornness in the commenters in this forum that are parents of autistic children.
      Perhaps you have found these traits necessary in protecting your child against the world.

      I do not have a child with autism and so I may be a representative of the world you are fighting.

      I don’t feel that I am a cold hearted person, but your shrill whines about discrimination just turn me cold.

      I DON’T CARE what reason, what excuse, what medical condition your child has, that is causing your child to act in disturbing and disruptive ways that appear to threaten the safety of those present.

      I applaud Rev. Daniel Walz.
      He put the safety and peace of his parishioners ahead of one demented mama.
      In her own press statement Carol Race shows herself to be disconnected from reality.

      If that family would have been allowed to continue their pro-wrestling antics during church services, all the rest of the parishioners would have stopped going to that church and the church would have been forced to close.

      All of you posters that claim this is autism discrimination are sadly deluded and are actually harming your cause for inclusion.

      All of you that say the church “should do” this our that should STFU and pay attention to what you are doing with your words and actions.

      The Race family made themselves unwelcome.
      They acted like rude, selfish, destructive, bullys.

      Based strictly on his behavior(not his malady), Adam Race does not belong in the church during Mass.

      If your child cannot swim, it is not discrimination to keep him off the swim team.

      If your child cannot speak, it is not discrimination to keep him off the debate team.

      If your child cannot sit still and be quiet, it is not discrimination to keep him out of situations where sitting still and being quiet is expected.

      In our society certain situations demand certain behaviors. It really is as simple as that.

      I am fairly certain that Kristina Chew, PhD would not tolerate a jack-hammer being used in her classroom while she was giving a lecture.

      Kristina Chew, PhD, am I correct in that assumption?

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Don’t you have a bridge somewhere that needs guarding?

      Did someone bring a jackhammer to this church? Hadn’t read that.

      “In our society certain situations demand certain behaviors. It really is as simple as that.”
      Lovely argument. The behaviors that society “demands” can be woefully misguided and sometimes downright wrong. Society used to demand that black people not roam free. Society used to demand that white people and black people not marry. Society used to demand that women shut up and get back in the kitchen. Thank God for the fact that some women braved the horrible fate of being labeled abrasive because well-behaved women rarely ever have made history. Just because society “demands” it doesn’t make it right.

      I actually don’t see a lot of posters claiming “autism discrimination” here. There’s an interesting discussion going on, certainly. If some perspectives are those of people looking to stir up trouble or seeking a fight, I find it ironic that those same people see this as a fault in Carol Race. Whenever a woman speaks up, she’s “abrasive.” If this were this boy’s father…what would we call him?

    • Mom of 7

      are you saying that society is wrong to have certain activities where quietness is required of all who participate?

    • Chuck

      “STFU” is neither catholic nor acceptable.

      “I don’t feel that I am a cold hearted person”
      But you present yourself as one.

      If our society demands certain behaviors, then why should you be allowed to break those demands when posting to this blog?

      “If your child cannot sit still and be quiet, it is not discrimination to keep him out of situations where sitting still and being quiet is expected.”

      Expected by YOU or expected by GOD. The last time my family attended mass it was in GOD’s house, not Rev. Walz’s, and not yours.

    • Redtown

      Emily said…
      “The behaviors that society ‘demands’ can be woefully misguided and sometimes downright wrong. Society used to demand that black people not roam free…”

      The logic of your argument is that because society once had demands that were unjust, therefore anything expected by society today can be ignored.

      So children who can’t swim shouldn’t be barred from the swim team, and the worshipers in this church have no right to quiet worship. It’s for the children’s self-esteem, you know.

      Can’t wait until Carol Race sues the state for denying Adam a driver’s license.

    • Mike Petrik

      “If this were this boy’s father…what would we call him?”
      A jerk?

      Mom of 7: You are exactly right. Thanks for your measured and thoughtful posts. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that the pastor acted wrongly here, but there just aren’t enough facts in evidence to reach a confident conclusion. But the argument advanced by some posters seems to be that the only relevant fact is the autistic nature of the child, and that all manner of inappropriate behavior, even battery, should be accomodated as long as the child is autistic. I find this argument to be unreasonable.
      Our parish had a mentally disabled child attend Mass for many years. He was prone to inappropriate outbursts, but we all took it in stride. I never heard an unkind word from either our pastor or any parishioner. Instead, we admired the family, and many folks went out their way to say hello to the child when entering or leaving Mass. It is possible that the pastor and parish in this instance are different — that they are unwilling to suffer through even a modest amount of annoying but harmless behavior. But it is at least as likely that their articulated concerns regarding the danger the bou poses to others are reasonable and grounded in experience. But without a more confident understanding of the facts we just can’t know. This places people like us at a disadvantage, since we require more information in order to form a conclusion. But some of the posters on this thread are not so encumbered. The fact that the boy is autistic is all they need to know. Very strange logic indeed.

    • Chuck

      “The logic of your argument is that because society once had demands that were unjust, therefore anything expected by society today can be ignored.”

      No, that is just your twisted logic that you attemp to project onto others.

    • Reen

      If logic was used in this case…it wouldn’t come to this point. It is one thing to attend church with your child with the purposes of teaching him to sit through church. It is another thing to have to continuously wrestle with your son through church. Where the Race case is on that spectrum, I do not know. I do know that if people were considerate of others…that goes both ways, there would be no restraining order. Be considerate/sympathetic if you see a parent struggling with their child. At some point any parent has been in that situation. You can concentrate on the mass if you try and so you don’t get the most out of that mass, you lived as god would have wanted, compassionate and loving. Likewise, if you are a parent and you know your childs behavior is really making it hard for the church to continue their service, it would be considerate to excuse yourselves temporarily. As a society, it is a balancing act of needs. It doesn’t have to be a fight!

    • Chuck

      The Pope has not decreed that all masses MUST be quite. The Bill of Rights says absolutely nothing about Catholic masses. No one has the RIGHT to a quiet mass given to them by GOD or COUNTRY.

    • Reen

      Its not about rights, its about respect for each other. Again, on both sides.

    • Chuck

      Reen,

      Are the statements of Redtown and William respectful or not?

      Please define who the “sides” are in this discussion.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Mike Petrik and Reen,
      This being an autism blog that incorporates a disabilities rights perspective, I am not surprised that you find various positions here “unreasonable.” While we will all be disabled one day, it’s a perspective that is still foreign to many (certainly to many I know).

      Certainly my son has had to suffer through much puzzlement, confusion, and fear of him from others, simply because he is different. (I am using “suffer” here in the sense of “endure” and “be patient”—-from patior, which gives us words like “passion).

      @William,

      Regarding that jack hammer—-have you ever been to Jersey City where Saint Peter’s College is located? We often keep the windows open and thus the sounds of sirens, car and truck traffic, the PATH train, and jackhammers fill the room. Of course, within the classroom are various other sounds—a fine cacophony.

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    • Chuck

      Mike,

      Your logic is just as strange as everybody elses.

    • Mom of 7

      I’m curious of Chuck & Christina:
      Are there any events where you feel bringing a disruptive individual (if the disruption is caused by Autism) is simply not appropriate?

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      I wouldn’t describe my son as a necessarily “disruptive individual.” Like the Races, we’ve usually some kind of plan of teaching strategies—-though, of course, a first lesson as the parent of any child is, throw out the plan and improvise.

      I document our travels here from time to time. We’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; countless grocery stores and the likes of Target etc.; numerous “nicer” stores in Manhattan—Charlie is a fan of the Time Warner Center; airplanes, trains, subways; various churches, college libraries and buildings; bowling alleys; sports stadiums; movies; musical theater productions at my college. Charlie loved seeing The Lion King last summer with my parents and we go to a lot of restaurants of a non-fast food variety.

      If there’s a place we have not been yet, it’s time to strategize how to go there!

    • Mom of 7

      and if you went to a theatre production and your son was disruptive would you take him for a walk until he was calm or stay in the venue?

    • William

      Kristina Chew, PhD, why is it so difficult to get a straight answer from you?

      My question to you is,
      Do you allow students and guests in your classroom to yell, scream, wrestle, practice tuba, blast boomboxes and the like, to drown out your lectures and make it impossible for you to be heard over the din, for the students that were actually interested to hear what you were saying?

      I am looking for one of two answers.

      1. Yes, I would allow such a disruption.
      or
      2. No, I do not allow such a disruption.

      If you find yourself unable to answer such a straight forward question, I would have assume that this forum is not about honest discussion.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William,

      I invite you to my classroom! Fortunately my students do not bring any instruments to class; I do enjoy leading them in recitations of Latin declensions. (Believe it or not, it gets a bit noisy—-hic, haec, hoc can be declined to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.”)

      I am fascinated by your need for absolutist and categorical answers—-indeed, I spend quite a bit of time teaching my son that answers in the real world are not so “black and white.” (Unlike the lovely precision of Latin and ancient Greek grammar.)

      @mom of 7,
      depends on the situation. In my experience (which is limited to one child, Charlie), sometimes taking a child out of a place can be more disruptive; we fall back on strategies of visual schedules (to indicate how much longer sitting might be necessary) and I point out how the rest of the audience might be bothered. He’s been pretty good about it, though it’s taken a lot of practice.

    • Redtown

      Chuc said –
      “The Pope has not decreed that all masses MUST be quiet. The Bill of Rights says absolutely nothing about Catholic masses. No one has the RIGHT to a quiet mass given to them by GOD or COUNTRY.”

      Well, that says it all. But you or your child do have the right to disrupt a Mass.

    • William

      Chuck, so far you have pretended to speak for Jesus, for God, for the Pope, and for the framers of the Bill of Rights.

      You presume to take it upon yourself to tell Rev. Daniel Walz and the Catholic church and their parishioners what they should do and what they shouldn’t do, without having first hand knowledge of any of it.

      I find that dishonest and arrogant.

    • Chuck

      “Chuck, so far you have pretended to speak for Jesus, for God, for the Pope, and for the framers of the Bill of Rights.”

      I have pretended to do no such thing. Please stop lying.

      I presumed to take it upon myself at my own Catholic church and it has worked out very well for everyone involved.

    • http://club166.blogspot.com/ Club 166

      I agree that we don’t have all the facts. But as I have mentioned above, none of what the priest cited is actual harm coming to anyone. Only the perceived threat of harm. Taking out a restraining order on a person that has two adults with him for a perceived threat of harm just doesn’t seem right.

      In the mid 1980′s, when AIDS was first being diagnosed, many doctors actively tried to eliminate not only AIDS patients, but those who they perceived might have AIDS (like homosexuals) from their practices because of the perceived risk to themselves. Although there is a small but real risk of contracting AIDS from caring for a patient, soon doctors realized that it was their obligation not to discriminate against people because of their HIV status. To do so would be to deny them care from those who were designated to provide that care.

      I see going to church somewhat like accessing medical care. God does not ask us to “qualify” to attend mass and worship him (like we would to be on a team). Jesus accepted all, even (especially?) sinners who would come to listen to him. If he could accept sinners, I would think he would accept a few outbursts from time to time.

      Sure, common courtesy would demand that if Adam was continually disruptive that the parents find other alternatives. But they have said that he is mostly not disruptive, and even sits, stands, and kneels with the congregation. Also, they mention that they usually sit in the crying room or the last pew, which sounds like they’re trying to be reasonable.

      It sounds to me (and again, we don’t have all the facts, so it might not be the case) like the congregation (or at least the priest) has a preconceived notion of what conduct at mass is acceptable. And since Adam can’t always comply, he is either willfully not doing it, not doing it because his parents haven’t trained him enough, or too crazy to attend mass. Any one of which shows a total lack of insight on what is involved with autism.

      Common courtesy (and a Christian attitude) would also demand that fellow parishioners put aside their own discomfort from the presence of someone who is “different”, and try to be as accepting as possible of those differences.

      Joe

    • Mike Petrik

      “Walz alleges that Adam struck a child during mass and has nearly knocked elderly people over when he abruptly bolts from church. He also spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights efforts to restrain him, Walz wrote.

      The pastor wrote that Adam’s parents often sit on him during mass to restrain him, and sometimes bind his hands and feet, pulling a rope under the pew so his father can control the line from behind.

      Walz wrote that Adam once pulled an adolescent girl — an exchange student staying with the family — on top of him, grabbing her thighs and buttocks. And, at Easter, Walz alleged, Adam ran from the church, got into the family van and started it, then got into someone else’s car, started it and revved up the engine.”

      So Joe, no harm no foul, eh? Wow.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Perhaps we ought to consider the possible biases of what all sides have written, besides (as noted in previous comments) those of the family.

    • Reen

      Chuck:
      I think on one side you have those that feel it is their right to never by disturbed. On the other side you have those that feel it is never okay to be asked to leave somewhere. In the middle, you have those that would use common sense. I think most of us would recognize at what point we would take our children out of church out of common courtesy for those around us.

      Some feel that Carol Race lacked that common courtesy and others feel like she was asked to leave for very benign reasons. Until all the facts come out, we don’t know.

      I still have one question: Based on Mrs. Race’s statement and the restraining order, is she even able to get anything out of mass? I don’t ask this judgementally or critically, but as a mom who has wrestled a toddler or two:) There were times when I could not even recall the homily. Part of mass is being their mentally, not just physically. Or maybe I just have weak concentration skills!!!!

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      “The logic of your argument is that because society once had demands that were unjust, therefore anything expected by society today can be ignored.”
      This is patently fallacious. I’ve been drinking sangria and I can still see that. Please, don’t take your fallacies and label them as my logic. Gracias.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,

      A theology professor and others (ministers, a rabbi) at the conference on autism and advocacy that my husband organized back in Oct of 2006 talked about different ways of worshipping and being in church—-certainly in my parenting experience I’ve learned to pay attention even through some interesting moments!

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      What an interesting situation. This is a problem that crosses so many issues, and braids them together: disability, accommodation, autism, behavioral issues, safety for all involved. Here we have a child that, because his disability was not considered and properly accommodated, engaged in dangerous behavior. Does that mean he should be excluded from public? Should he be forced to worship away from his community, in isolation? And what accommodations would allow him to appropriately included in his community? Why have those accommodations been avoided, dismissed, ignored, or otherwise not put into place?

      It seems that the proper action of this priest would have been to call in an expert on accommodation, disability, and Catholic practice, and ask for advice on how to include this child in the community, even as (if) his behavior changes or becomes disconcerting- or even dangerous. Such recommendations would be to keep both the child AND the other community members safe. Instead, it was left to the parents to offer an expert, whose advice was apparently rejected.

      I would think someone up the chain of the Church hierarchy needs to step in at this point and insist on such a study of the situation by an expert. That would be best next step- for the Church to offer to work with this family to include them in their community.

      Instead, they slapped the family with a restraining order- in effect, purposely and clearly excluding them from the community. Nothing says “you are not welcome here” like a restraining order (especially one that alleges sexual abuse, resulting in a child being removed from the home!).

      I fear the Races will need to do what we did when it became clear a church community did not want to include our family: find a new church family. It took us four churches to find one where people would meet with us, discuss Joey’s needs, and work to accommodate him (or at least to include him as best they could).

    • William

      e·va·sive [ i váyssiv ]

      adjective

      Definition:

      1. avoiding an issue: not giving a direct answer to a direct question, usually in order to conceal the truth

      Synonyms: elusive, slippery, shifty, indirect, oblique, equivocal, ambiguous, cagey, vague, misleading

      William said,
      “My question to you is,
      Do you allow students and guests in your classroom to yell, scream, wrestle, practice tuba, blast boomboxes and the like, to drown out your lectures and make it impossible for you to be heard over the din, for the students that were actually interested to hear what you were saying?

      I am looking for one of two answers.

      1. Yes, I would allow such a disruption.
      or
      2. No, I do not allow such a disruption.

      Kristina Chew, PhD said,
      “I invite you to my classroom! Fortunately my students do not bring any instruments to class; I do enjoy leading them in recitations of Latin declensions. (Believe it or not, it gets a bit noisy—-hic, haec, hoc can be declined to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.”)”

      I respectfully decline the invitation.
      You have successfully proven you have nothing to say worth hearing.

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      William, I am also a professor, and I can say that there are certain disruptions allowed in my classroom. When I am teaching live, it is not unusual to have students with special needs who require accommodations. I have had students who stim, and require appropriate accommodation for oral stims such as clicking or perseverative speech. We work hard to find the accommodations that will allow that student to learn while minimizing disruption to other students.

      I have students who have to sit near the door in case they need to leave for various reasons. I have students who need to sit close to the screen to be able to see the slides. I have taught blind students (I teach art history). I have students who require interpreters, including sign. I have students who require use of note-takers, use of laptop computers (screen light in a room darkened for slides!), or use of tape recorders. I had a student who needed a line of desks removed from the room so we could widen the aisles because of mobility and sensory issues. I have students who occasionally need to stand or move during a lecture.

      As long as I have that precious letter from the disability office, there is a lot I can and will do. I appreciate how well the other students in a class think little of accommodating each other, or including their fellow classmates.

      After all, someday I hope my own child will have the opportunity to be included in higher education, and he may need to take his thinking gum with him.

    • http://club166.blogspot.com Club 166

      @Mike Petrick,

      As I stated a few times, we have no independent first hand accounts, so it’s difficult to sort this all out. But the things you mentioned sound a lot different (and from a parent of an autistic child’s perspective, a lot more believable) from Carol Race’s accounting.

      The priest reports no injury from “striking the child” or “nearly knocking over an elderly person”. Surely the priest’s lawyer would have included any such injury in the complaint had it occurred. Without any injury, there is a wide spectrum of how big an encounter this really was, and not much probability that it actually amounted to much other than an inappropriate bumping.

      The mom says he never spits in church (so we’re left with a “he said, she said”), and that he is sometimes incontinent, which is a lot different than exposing himself and urinating in church.

      As to the binding him with rope, the Race’s state that they use a fleece strip occasionally to prevent their son from injuring himself or family members around him. I’m not a fan of restraints, but without knowing the full situation that sounds like a problem within the Race family, and not a problem between their son and other parishioners.

      With regards to the exchange student that lived with them for six months (the adolescent girl), Ms. Race offered a plausible explanation, as well as the phone number of the agency that placed the girl, should you wish to verify her version with them. As she offered some outside verification and I have not seen the same from the priest, I tend to believe her version.

      Certainly starting a car is scary (though the priest’s account mentions starting the car, other accounts mention only revving the engine), it is highly unlikely (with modern brake interlocks) that Adam would have been able to get the car in gear. While not an ideal situation, and mostly the Race’s responsibility, anyone who leaves the keys in the car (or the car running) also bears some responsibility here. And I see no one taking out restraining orders on them.

      Finally, my bias towards the mom’s version also stems from the priest’s own words, where he speaks of wanting mediation “TO ASK THEM TO VOLUNTARILY NOT BRING ADAM TO CHURCH”, as well as his refusal to meet with the behavioral consultant that the parents hired. Nothing about this strikes me as the priest going out of his way to even understand their situation, much less assist or accommodate them in any way.

      Do I have a bias as the parent of an autistic child? Sure, I must have, having gone thru many similar (though less drastic) incidences of discrimination rooted in ignorance. But I have tried to look at this objectively, and I just don’t see much of real substance in the restraining order. No destruction of property, no injuries to anyone. Mostly a few incidents that are inappropriate to a church setting, but depending on their frequency quite tolerable by a compassionate and loving priest and flock. Again, I may have the facts incorrect. But show me some substance. Women who have actual bruises from getting beaten up by their husbands have hard times getting restraining orders. Why is this situation worse?

      Joe

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William,
      Welcome than to my online classroom, as it were, and I thank you for your comments and time. As i noted, my son is very troubled when things do not get straight yes/no sorts of answers—such as you seem to need?, if I read you right—-and thank you for your willingness to be part of this conversation, and for the etymology of “evasive,” from evado, evadere, evasi, evasus

      et vade nobiscum.

      @Joeymom,
      It’s been a most interesting week here!

    • Pingback: Back to Vaccine Court

    • William

      Joeymom, thank you for relating your personal experience. I truly am delighted that these children have a safe place to be, to learn and to grow. I believe I can feel your warmth and patience in your letter.

      It has never been my intention to deprive any child of what is good for them. Caring for others is what makes a good human being.

      The children you refer to are in a setting and situation, which is designed for their special needs. It is a setting tailor-made to help them and not to overtax them. It allows the children a safe place where they can mature to the best of their ability. It does not deny that they have certain limitations but gives them a chance to grow and possibly exceed expectations.

      This appears to be the antithesis of what many of the posters in this forum are demanding.

      The clamor of those parents demanding that their child be thrust into situations, which are unsafe and unrealistic for a child laboring under the burden of autism, is bordering on the absurd.

      The state of denial that these parents exhibit is not only rude to their neighbors but also cruel to their own children.

      The single-minded zeal that Carol Race and her ilk demand that their children be thrust into situations where it is obvious to be beyond the child’s capabilities or comfort zone only bring about worse acting out from the child caused by fear and anxiety. It also engenders resentment from the general population, not empathy or tolerance.

      What cooler-heads like Redtown, liquidzeolite, Regan, Reen, Bren, mom of 7, Susan M. Bersee, mayfly and others, have asserted is that the situation into which Adam Race was repeatedly forced into was far beyond his capabilities and his behavior became inappropriate and unsafe for himself and others nearby.

      In that way Carol Race was doing her son and family a disservice as well as her community.

      Most everybody would help a child if they could.

      Nobody wants to be hurt by an out of control 225 lb person if they can avoid it.

      I thank you again, Joeymom, for being a guiding light in this world.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William,

      So glad you have been able to learn from the community here.

    • http://www.rettdevil.org Kassiane

      But an out of control 100 pound person is ok?

      I mean, just sayin’…why does size matter? Either he is getting something out of Mass or he is not. My guess would be that either
      a) Adam’s behavior was exaggerated
      or
      b) it is an attempt to communicate that he is overstimulated by the environment.
      It just happens that he is a large kid, so anything unusual can be used against him. If he was my size, behavior would never have come up.

      If he gets something out of Mass, he should be allowed to go. If he does not, he shouldn’t be required to go, just like any teenager who explores his/her own faith.

      I don’t see why that’s so difficult.

    • William

      Kristina Chew, PhD, your attempts to psychoanalyze me as if I were your autistic son are noted and laughed off.
      I presumed that I was an adult, speaking with you, another adult.
      I appreciate that your son is troubled, and for that I am sorry.
      But I am not your son, and in the adult world, sometimes straight answers to straight questions are neccessary.

      The fact that Adam Race is a danger to those people attending Mass is not a gray area.
      Even Carol Race admits in her press release, “Sometimes my husband and I need to restrict Adam’s movements to prevent him from hurting himself or his family who sit near him.”
      That admission is about as black and white as it gets.

      To psychoanalyze you in return, I feel you are spending too much time with autistic children and not enough time with functioning adults.
      You will communicate more effectively if you lose the baby talk and not talk down to people.

      Other posters have questioned whether there is no situation where somebody must be removed for the safety of all concerned.

      Your son deserves your honest and complete and straight answer to this.

      Would you remove him from a situation where he is in danger of harming himself and others?

      I’m betting that you would, of course.

      And if you would, shouldn’t Adam Race be removed for his own safety and the safety of others?

      But due to your’s and others’ previous evasive maneuvering, I think you owe it to the forum to give a straight answer.

      Forgive me that it has come to this, but the more elusive you are, the more direct I feel I must be.

    • http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/autistic-boy-banned-from-church/ William

      http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/autistic-boy-banned-from-church/

      beenthere Says:
      Wednesday, May 21, 2008
      I am a member of this church. We have offered the crying room and video streaming of the Mass to another room. The family rejected those offers as well as the priest’s offer to bring communion to them. This isn’t about the priest being a bully – if anyone is a bully in this situation, it’s the mother. Adam has not just struck one kid – he has struck several parishioners. He throws his legs over the pew in front of him and flails them about, he jumps up unexpectedly and runs from the church. I have seen him hit his family members to the point of knocking them over. He is strong and he doesn’t know that he is doing something that could hurt people. That is where it is the parents responsibility to control him. Unfortunately, they are not always able to do so. No, of course he is not always violent and aggressive, but he truly is sometimes, too.
      The Race’s have been members of our congregation for over ten years. We did not just suddenly decide one day that Adam couldn’t come to Mass anymore. We have had compassion for the family, and we have common sense – we are not ignorant hicks who just can’t handle something a little different. If it were just his noises and rocking, that’s one thing, but we cannot say that it’s alright for him to abuse the rest of us.

    • http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/autistic-boy-banned-from-church/ William

      http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/autistic-boy-banned-from-church/

      Jax Says:
      Wednesday, May 21, 2008
      I attend this church on a regular basis. What people need to understand is that alternatives have been offered numerous times. Plus St. Joseph’s is a very tiny church. There can’t be more than 20 pews in the entire church. So when they sit in the back of church it really isn’t like sitting int the back of a larger church. He has shown more than a few outburst in church. Once my sister sat in the pew in front of Adam only to have a huge chunk of her hair pulled out. The church is not saying he can’t come to church because of him being autistic. They are doing for the saftey of other parishioners. Many alternatives have been given which have all been turned down. It is very sad that it come down to this but really what choice does the church have when Adam is a danger to others and himself.

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Actually, William, my point is that children- and in my case, young adults, as I teach at the college level- CAN be accommodated in settings that would otherwise be problematic. However, if you don’t take the time and effort to accommodate, you actively exclude- and even make a situation dangerous. Sometimes it takes some thought, effort, and creativity; it always requires support of the community.

      Accommodations are not privileges or advantages. They are ways of making situations fair, safe, and even. They make inclusion and participation possible for everyone.

      A Church is a community, and according to the Bible, an inclusive community. By not taking the time and effort to accommodate this child, the community is excluding him.

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Oh, and William, offering to isolate the child is not an offer of accommodation.

    • Redtown

      Chuck said –
      “The Pope has not decreed that all masses MUST be quiet. The Bill of Rights says absolutely nothing about Catholic masses. No one has the RIGHT to a quiet mass given to them by GOD or COUNTRY.”

      Again, this well reflects the narcissistic attitude of some activists who would *exclude* everyone else from their rights.

      Actually, the pope and bishops have addressed issues of distraction and disruption at liturgy. They’re against it. And in fact, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments provide that all rights not specified in the Constitution are reserved by the people and the states. Under common law, this includes the traditional right of the people to the “quiet enjoyment” of worship.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @William, Thanks for the links to other blogs. Hope you will check out the rest of this weblog for a more detailed sense of the views on autism and disability here. Unfortunately, many persons

      On autism and psychoanalysis, there is a long history and it is of interest, as in this post.

      http://www.autismvox.com/therapy-moms-and-psychoanalysis-for-autistic-children/

      Again, as I noted this morning, it’s good to be having this discussion, seeing how autistic children would have been institutionalized in the past and these sorts of “issues” would not have arisen.

    • passionlessDrone

      Hi Everyone –

      If the family in question didn’t have one child with autism who required special accomodations, but ten, what then? Imagine if instead of two empty pews, the family requested eight, or ten? If five, or seven of their children had urinated (exposing themselves or not) would there still be such cries of discrimination if the congregation asked them to find another way to worship?

      Greater understanding, and even acceptance of autism is a good thing; but it isn’t a social get out of jail free card.

      - pD

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Joeymom, same here. I make these accommodations for the adults in my classroom, as well, and others, as necessary.

    • TomsMom

      I was astonished to come back a week later and find this “mega-thread” on the Race case which is unfortunately what it has become: a court case and cause celebre–the story has been picked up in Australia.

      Boils down I think to this: after 11 years some people, including apparently the pastor, are afraid of Adam and less able to accept or accomodate his behavior at church. His parents–or his mother at least–see nothing to fear and want unconditional acceptance. The pastor would not accept mediation unless “banishment” was an option on the table; the mother would not accept mediation if that option was included–perhaps feeling that it was inevitable that banishment was the goal. And, apparently it was: restraining order and sheriff at the end of the family’s driveway. Very sad.

      Was there no other way? I maintain as I did in my first post that education is key, and that accomodation runs both ways.

      For myself, with my 6-1/2 year old who is already prone to aggression and melt-downs, who must be accommodated in any number of ways at school and at home, never mind in theatres, restaurants, and church, I do not believe I would choose the path that Mrs. Race does which seems to me inflexible. In any case, I would hope that my pastor would not choose the path her pastor has chosen.

      I have often thought that if I don’t take Tom to church or to group settings where he is uncomfortable he will never learn to behave appropriately, and thus never be able to go out and be social. But recently Tom’s capacities and tolerance for stimulation, for crowds, for change, have become more erratic. Right now he’s going through a period where he’ll be fine when I hand him off at school but walking down the hall sets him off somehow and what we thought would be a good day is a not such a good day.

      Could it be that Adam, too, is entering a challenging phase and something needs to give, at least temporarily? Could this not have been part of the discussion with the expert the pastor did not want to hear from?

      I guess we’ll have to see what the courts say.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      And, accommodations are often made for commenters on Autism Vox.

    • murphy

      i have a severly autistic brother who has always been big for his age, and we’ve had the ocassional behavioral issue in church as well. The priest and parish have always been understanding. now someone back there wondered if the boy was able to understand the Mass. trust me, he gets it. My brother is non-verbal and is capable of the same types of outbursts as Adam, but you should read what the kid writes. (He types on a keyboard) He probably has the deepest spiritual understanding of anyone i know. And we’ve never had anything but support from our parish, even when there’s been behavioral problems. By the way, our church is pretty small, too.

    • Chuck

      William,

      You are a very judgmental hypocritical master troll and I cannot even aspire to what you can do on my worst days. I thank God that the congregation and priest of my Catholic Church are absolutely nothing like you in that they are understanding, compassionate, caring, and open to welcoming everyone into God’s house.

    • Mom of 7

      Christina if your son was so overstimulated in a public setting that he pulled out a nearby attendee’s hair would you feel it was an appropriate setting for him to continue to be?

      What if he were so overstimulated as to break away and get into other’s cars?

    • Mom of 7

      What is considered the appropriate response of those who believe in “accomodation in all instances” when the person being accomodated hurts another?

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Mom of 7, it is vital that we discover what lead to the incident. Is it a sensory issue? An anxiety issue? A problem with processing? Which sensory systems are effected? Is there a reasonable accommodation to be made- such as allowing the person to leave slightly early, provide more space around the person, provide a quieter environment, have a support person available, adjust lighting or sound… even taking care about what the person is wearing or what perfumes are worn in the space.

      Part of calling in an expert is to look into the exact situations and circumstances, an come up with appropriate and effective solutions that accommodate EVERYONE. The first step is discovering what circumstances might result in inappropriate or dangerous behavior, and address them.

      How would this case be handled? We don’t know. The priest refused all advice from actual experts.

    • http://SaintMychalJudge.blogspot.com John K

      “You are a very judgmental hypocritical master troll and I cannot even aspire to what you can do on my worst days.”

      As I’ve followed this threat, it seems Chuck has engaged more in trollish name calling and adhominem attack, while William has been more measured and reasoned in his comments and questions.

    • TomsMom

      Kristina, I thank you for being so accommodating. :-)

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Chuck has been a regular commenter here about a number of topics and for some time; he and I don’t agree on some issues, and agree on others.

      A number of commenters have only started writing in here as a result of the incident that initiated this post and all, of course, are welcome.

    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Well said, TomsMom. Agreed Kristina. John K, I think most posters would disagree with that assessment, but I could be wrong. Doesn’t matter. At any rate, William seems primarily interested baiting, sneering, and trying to get a rise out of Kristina. I don’t see Chuck doing that.

    • Rachel

      Carol Race, or someone claiming to be her, posted in the comments section at Darcee’s blog. It’s, uh, interesting:

      “She willingly sat on his lap because she knew that he was attempting to socialize and or get some needed deep pressure.”

      http://simplycatholic.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/about-carol-race-from-someone-who-knows-her/#comments

    • Mom of 7

      joeymom: church services are public settings open to the general public, visitors are an integral part of that mix. Perfumes & clothing can be restricted in an inpatient setting or a classroom, not in general public settings.

      Is it the responsibility of the family or the church to engage the “support person”?

      Sometimes as much as I hate to admit it my kids can’t do everything-it’s not a good fit to their skills.

      We have incidents here of hitting, pulling out hair, revving of a car, kicking over the pews endangering those sitting in front-in short an ongoing history of a situation where the parents who include an “expert in inclusion” unable to manage the environment well enough to prevent ongoing stress reactions for their son.

      Sometimes our desires for our children to have integration must be tempered by our compassion for our children and say this is too much for them at this time.

      I believe people in general are willing to work out solutions. I know sometimes we have to push an entrenched system to change. But sometimes we lose sight of what is best for our kids if we ride inclusion like a hobby horse.

      It’s not fair to take an overtired toddler grocery shopping when it really needs a nap, it’s not fair to take a child who routinely experiences sensory overload in a situation into that situation to prove we can.

    • Reen

      Since I am not a parent of an autistic child, I want to ask those that are…If mass right now is too much for Adam, what accomodations could be done to make it easier. Is two pews in the back of a small church enough? People have said that their church has been accomodating. What have they done? Would that work in this situation? Can it physically be done in this situation?

      Finally, is there a possibility that the sensory stimulations in church are too much for Adam?

      Just curious based on all of your experiences. Reading some of the witness accounts, it is obvious that the current situation is not working and there is a deep wedge in the community.

    • William

      It appears that this blog emulates the event in question.
      The battle lines are drawn.
      The sides are chosen.
      There is alot of talking, but no listening.

      You care about your autistic child. Fine.
      You don’t appear to care about the old people getting knocked down.
      You don’t appear to care about the Priest whose job it is to provide care and comfort to all of his congregation.
      You don’t appear to care about the two posters that are members of the St. Joseph church, beenthere and Jax, who say they are witnesses to Adam’s violence.

      You repeat your mantra “Accommodation” , but it seems you mean “inclusion” at any price.

      None of you “autism do-gooders” are in the least concerned that Adam is violent and has hurt people and will hurt more people because his parents cannot control him.

      Here is my real disappointment with this blog.
      A question have been asked earnestly and it has been ignored.
      It is the same question asked over and over by many different posters.

      @Redtown
      “Is it unreasonable to ask Adam’s parents to accommodate everyone else’s rights to public safety and undisrupted worship?”

      @Reen
      “How many close calls need to occur before something is done?”
      “If that car would have been put into gear (which has happened with Adam Race before) and he would have run someone over, should the priest and the parents be consoled by the fact that they were only acting out of the spirit of universal inclusion?”
      “Would everyone agree that if Adam’s actions posed a physical threat to those around him, he should not be attending mass?”

      @Regan
      “Accommodating autism: Where’s the fine line?”

      @Mom of 7
      “..if your autistic child was so distressed by a situation to create such a risk of harm to himself or others that you would willingly subject him to that risk ever again.”

      @Reen
      If your child exhibited a pattern of dangerous behavior, would you voluntarily remove yourself from the situation?”

      @Bren
      “..if you took autism out of the equation and someone had acted in a way that could cause potential harm to those around him (i.e. running over someone, knocking someone down, grabbing people, pulling someone out of their car and jumping in to rev the engine), would you voluntarily be around that person or would you take precautions for you personal safety?”

      @Bren
      “..as a parent (of any child), if there was someone around your child that at times could not be controlled and had acted dangerous, would you be concerned?”

      @Bren
      “..can everyone agree that there is a point where the best decision is that he can’t be with the rest of the congregation? Or do some believe that if you have autism, there is no such point.”

      @Reen
      “I have asked the question before…When would it be okay to exclude someone from church services? Is there some line that people would agree on? If there is no line, then there is an impasse.”

      @Bren
      “Would it have been discrimination if the school in Denver had expelled those two boys before they shot and killed all the kids in the school? By all accounts, they behaved strangely, threatened violence, etc.”

      @Reen
      “..at what point would you say someone should not be allowed in church? Or is there a point? Nobody answers that question.”

      @LaRe
      “(Is it that)there should be no limits or expectations placed on Mrs. Race or Mrs. Race’s son because he just can’t help himself?”

      @LaRe
      “So the boy isn’t supposed to be blamed because he can’t help it, and Mrs. Race shouldn’t be blamed because her son can’t help it, then where does that leave society? Are we just supposed to allow a pubescent teenager whose hormones exceed his reasoning grab and touch and fondle anything and anyone he feels like it because he’s a poor lost soul?”

      @Mike Petrik
      “I would have thought that the question under discussion is under what circumstances is it appropriate to prevent a child from attending a Mass.”

      @Chuck
      How many weeks would you have watched my son scream and sometimes strike me before you would have asked us to leave the church?

      @Mom of 7
      “..are you saying that society is wrong to have certain activities where quietness is required of all who participate?”

      @Mike Petrik
      “(Is it true that)the argument advanced by some posters seems to be that the only relevant fact is the autistic nature of the child, and that all manner of inappropriate behavior, even battery, should be accommodated as long as the child is autistic.”

      @Mom of 7
      “Are there any events where you feel bringing a disruptive individual (if the disruption is caused by Autism) is simply not appropriate?”

      @Mom of 7
      “and if you went to a theatre production and your son was disruptive would you take him for a walk until he was calm or stay in the venue?

      @Joeymom
      “Here we have a child that,…..,engaged in dangerous behavior. Does that mean he should be excluded from public?”

      @passionlessDrone
      “If five, or seven of their children had urinated (exposing themselves or not) would there still be such cries of discrimination if the congregation asked them to find another way to worship?”

      @Mom of 7
      “..if your son was so overstimulated in a public setting that he pulled out a nearby attendee’s hair would you feel it was an appropriate setting for him to continue to be?
      What if he were so overstimulated as to break away and get into other’s cars?”

      @Mom of 7
      What is considered the appropriate response of those who believe in “accommodation in all instances” when the person being accommodated hurts another?

      Same question.

      Asked over and over.

      No answer.

      Evaded.

      Ignored.

      Here is what I have learned on this blog.

      The state of denial is so great that it will not be bridged by logic or reason or accommodation.

      It really does take a Restraining Order to stop a rampaging mama that believes she is protecting her cub. Even when it is the cub that is the destroyer.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Williams,

      thanks for persevering to provide such an orderly response to some commenters. Your contributions are much appreciated.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen, I have to wonder about the sensory issues. My son has become very sound-sensitive in the past few months and some of the music and singing might, I suspect, cause him to put his hands over his ears. Not all autistic children have those sensitivities (and Charlie only recently).

      I think a good place to start might be the Autism and Faith booklet created by the Autism and Faith Task Force of COSAC (NJ’s main autism orgnization) and also the Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities. The director of COSAC, Linda Meyers, has a short piece in it, in which she notes the importance of religious places of worship for autistic individuals and for their families.

    • http://club166.blogspot.com Club 166

      @William,

      Speaking as a parent of an autistic son who is not always as appropriate as others would like, I would say that while we include him as much as possible, IF it were a constant struggle to attend church, we probably wouldn’t. We only have so much energy to expend, and probably wouldn’t be getting much out of it if attendance set up a constant battle between us and our son.

      But also, if we felt that this was very important for him and to him, we would be willing to work slowly and consistently towards full inclusion, and would hope that the parish would accept that there would be some inappropriate interruptions along the way, and would not only accept that, but also look for ways to assist us.

      But what really bothers me about this case is that everyone on the priest’s side seems to be working on “how do we exclude this person from our congregation” rather than acting in good faith to find ways to include and assist a fellow parishioner.

      If the priest had been willing to meet with the behavioral specialist that the family hired, I would probably feel differently. Instead all I hear is a cry of “we must provide a safe environment” (which is a cry many of us have heard from schools that sometimes purposely stress our kids until they act out, just so they can expel them). This then is melded with the “we have a right to a quiet environment” at church. There are many times at mass that babies interrupt the services. No one takes out restraining orders against those parents. But some feel that just because this kid is older and “weird” that it’s OK to exclude him if he gets loud occasionally.

      Incontinence accidents by anyone (especially when the family says they clean it up themselves) are no reason to bar anyone from church. I am sure that there are many parishioners who have occasional problems, but since they’re not “weird”, it isn’t held against them.

      My son is 8 years old, and recently completed his First Communion. He attended religious classes at a parish that was not our home parish (we have since transferred to this parish as we like them so much) because they had classes only once a month (instead of every week) and the other weeks were home schooling with us and him at home. This arrangement has attracted many families with kids on the spectrum, because it works out better for us. My wife was allowed to shadow my son in his class, to keep him on task and head off/manage any problems he had during the classes.

      The pastor of this church (who is at least well into his 60′s) has been as accepting as anyone could ask for. He has patiently answered all of my son’s questions, tactfully ignores the occasional outburst and vocal tics, and always has a kind word for us each week. When he walks down the center aisle at the end of mass, he gives a “high five” to my son.

      We are part of a family that supports us, rather than ostracized and excluded.

      We may never know all the facts in this case. Maybe the Race family is asking too much. But I have not seen the evidence that the parish tried to actively support this family, rather than just expect them to live up to some ideal standards.

      Joe

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Mom of 7: hogwash. Many people are allergic to perfumes, and expect to be able to be in public (or controlled-public) settings such as church. Our church asks that people refrain from wearing perfume for just this reason- we have a member who is allergic. We also disallow peanut products in snacks because we have several children with allergies. It is certainly a reasonable accommodation, IF you know it will be an EFFECTIVE accommodation.

      Of course, nitpicking examples completely misses the point. First and foremost, you have to know WHY behavior is occurring before you can determine what will be effective and appropriate accommodation.

      In our particular case, it may well be the best and most appropriate accommodation would be the “cry room” or televised feed, due to this child’s inability to cope with something in the main chapel. Or perhaps the congregation needs to get busy, get a consultant, and find out what IS possible and effective, and consider those options. I have no idea what is best for this child, I am not there. However, the status quo is NOT effective and safe for everyone- the mark of an appropriate accommodation.

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Reen- since we aren’t there, we don’t know what would be appropriate. The church should hire an expert consultant and find out. It costs about $300 to hire an autism consultant around this neck of the woods, and includes training of personnel (such as the priest) about autism and common accommodations, as well as addressing the specific at-hand issue and making recommendations to accommodate the disabled person.

      That would be my advice for a next step- basically, take the whole issue out of the he said-she said they are in now, and get the opinion of a third, disinterested party with extensive knowledge of autism and accommodation strategies.

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      William: want a straight answer? The answer is yes.

      If those were considered to be effective accommodations that would be safe and effective for everyone, then they would be allowed.

      However, the behaviors described in your original question- such as playing a boom box loudly during a lecture- does not have the mark of an effective and appropriate accommodation. For one, the noise would not allow the student to achieve the goals of the classroom, which include gaining material from lectures, because the student cannot hear the lecture. Secondly, other students in the room would be unable to achieve the goals of the classroom because THEY would not be able to hear the lecture. Therefore, no parties are actually accommodated by allowing a loud boombox in a classroom.

      If background noise is required for a student to focus, perhaps earphones would be a more appropriate accommodation. They do make earphones that specifically do NOT cancel noise from the environment, while effectively containing sound (so others do not hear it). I have a son who uses them for listening therapy. Wearing these phones, the student would be effectively and appropriately accommodated.

      So yes, I care that people may be getting pushed, that there have been outbursts, that the current situation is not appropriate or effective. But slapping a family with a restraining order and expecting them to simply not attend is not an appropriate accommodation, either.

    • http://stopthinkautism.blogspot.com/ S.L.

      I agree with Joe. It would be more reassuring to us parents if the church seemed to be making more of an effort (at least meeting halfway).

      For us, there are simply places we don’t go (at least not at this time–or especially on certain days, if my daughter is having a “rough time”). We have attended church with her on 2 or 3 occasions (for family members’ communions), we’ve yet to find one that is the right “fit” for us. Perhaps when she is a little older–I hope. Restaurants are a place we avoid. McDonald’s is a big treat out–anywhere else is not worth it (she won’t eat anything, and only makes it 10-15 minutes or so before a meltdown or outbursts).

      We are much bigger homebodies than we’ve ever been–and that’s okay. Sure, it’d be great to be able to take off and go, whenever, wherever. But, at this point, we can’t. We do make many attempts to show her the world, have new experiences, see a lot. We feel that is so important. But, we listen to the cues she is sending–if she is having a difficult time somewhere, we leave–end of story. Our daughter does best in her comfort zone–we don’t see the point in pushing her over the edge. We are ALL happier when she is happy. :)

    • Mom of 7

      Carol I am trying to understand this situation.

      Was the restraining order filed after the parking lot incident?

      What is your reaction to that incident, I’ve read several blogs of yours and read your interviews and so far I haven’t seen you addressing that issue.

      Personally that would be the issue that greatly concerned me, what were your plans to ensure that it wouldn’t be repeated in a public setting again?

    • Meliobaby

      William et al – someone needs to give you a straight answer… let me. Of course, the answer is yes! Yes, there are places and settings that are NOT appropriate for a disruptive child to be, whether that child has autism or not. That is just common sense and common courtesy which seems to be lacking in this discussion. I am a mother of a child with autism who is extremely distruptive and cannot be still or quiet. I am one that lives this 24/7. We go where we can and try to always introduce him to new settings and places but we are reasonable and realistic. We know our limits, we know HIS limits and we have respect for others. I take the same approach as “S.L.”. What really is the point in forcing him to conform to a social setting if he is having a bad day, a meltdown or is overstimulated or what-have-you. We see the signs and we go… we don’t wait till he is over the edge and let him be miserable and everyone else as well, including ourselves. The other approach seems cruel to me. Not all settings are appropriate for children, autism or no autism, and my belief is that parents need to be considerate of those around them when deciding where and when to take their children. It is simple courtesy. I in no way feel my son is being discriminated against or is being excluded when we need to leave a social situation because of his behaviors. It is just life… its just what we do… it is just more peaceful for him. He is the one we think about most and how is he benefiting if he is unable to cope due to noise, smell, lights, singing, and a thousand other things that it could be. Some children with autism are much easier to take places and they cope well and can respond to different strategies and some are much more severely afflicted and just don’t do well. It is up to us parents to decide what is best for our children really, and then have common courtesy and respect for our fellow citizens. My personal experience has been that many places are making accomodations for people with disabilities. A good example is our local movie theater has a days where the movie is a bit friendlier for folks with autism. The noise is down, the lights are on and if the kids want to climb down each row of seats or do laps around the theater they can. It is appropriate for me to take my son to that showing and it would be inappropriate for me to take him to a showing where the theater was crowded with those who paid to see the movie and have my son climb on their heads from the row behind them and do laps around the theater. Common sense folks. William and others, I hope my personal point of view gives you a straightforward answer.

    • Reen

      Meliobaby:
      I think you described how every parent should behave. It is a fine line between introducing our children to new experiences/teaching them how to behave in different social settings and taking away the experience from all those around. EVERYBODY could stand to be a little more aware of those around them. Your comments about your son being the most important struck a chord in me. I hate to say it, but the part in the Race story that really disturbed me most was him being bound with straps occassionally. I don’t have the background in this, but this sounds like the mom’s need to attend church trumping their son’s capacity to attend church. Maybe it isn’t as bad as it sounds, but the image is troubling.

    • Reen

      I read this commentary in the St. Paul paper. I thought it was very well written and really summarized how I have felt about this situation:

      http://www.twincities.com/opinion/ci_9368223?nclick_check=1

      Not sure why the link doesn’t work, but just copy and paste it. Definitely worth it.

    • Reen

      I guess it did work! Yeah!

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      @Reen,
      yes, the use of restraints is a big concern, though I’m suspecting that there’s more to the story. but there are certainly other behavioral methods of teaching and I’m hoping an autism/ABA (applied behavior analysis) consultant might be able to offer their view of the situation and make suggestions. Thanks for the link!

      There have been many times in life with our son when things have felt hopeless—when we had to take him out of his public school classroom, when he didn’t know his name, when he couldn’t say his name (or anything but “duh”). But we have been able to work through that feeling of “this is end of the road” and if there’s any light that guides in these situations, it’s the autistic children and individual themselves, who show how much they can do. And with the faith of many behind them, over and above any fear, I think we can see this.

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    • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

      Meliobaby, very well said. It’s our M.O. at all times. If any of our children–autistic or not–behave disruptively, we remove them from the situation. With TH, our oldest (and autistic) son, I can see the momentum building and will remove him immediately to someplace with less in the way of sensory input and where he won’t be disruptive. We are keenly aware–possibly too much so–of whether or not our children are being disruptive, and we do not allow the behavior to continue. That doesn’t mean tying them up, which would never do and never would consider doing; it means removing them from the situation. Obviously, if the inputs are so overwhelming that the behaviors ensue, they’re not getting much out of whatever is going on.

      That said, I still think the restraining order was overkill. That’s not a commentary on whether or not the parents are behaving appropriately; Carol Race comes across as strident and looking for a fight. And *that’s* not to say that she’s wrong to be pugnacious. In the end, in human progress, someone usually has to be extreme to bring people to the middle.

      From what the order says, it’s hard to believe the law granted it. It’s so hard to get an order against a grown man who stalks with intent to cause harm, and I just don’t see the threat being equivalent here. Sounds like bad blood driving a lot of this, and it sounds like there is a complex history behind it.

    • William

      @Meliobaby
      “William et al – someone needs to give you a straight answer… let me. Of course, the answer is yes! Yes, there are places and settings that are NOT appropriate for a disruptive child to be, whether that child has autism or not.”

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      For a while I figured I was whistling in a tornado.

      Also, thank you, Joeymom.
      I appreciate your response, although I believe the Restraining Order was the proper action at the time. The more I read eyewitness accounts including Carol Race’s account, I can see where the Church felt they were at the end of their rope and had to defend themselves from Carol Race and her grand-standing mission.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      thank you, William. It’s very important to have this exchange; in the past, it would not have been an issue, as many autistic children and individuals would have been institutionalized and, therefore, not visible to society. These are problems that we as a society need to address by thinking about we are not (yet) disabled can change.

    • Mom of 7

      I’ve been really pondering this situation for days and days, spending hours and hours reading different autism sites on the net etc.

      This has been very instructive to me, seeing other’s real life experiences dealing with the effects of autism.

      One extreme mindset seems to be labeled as Neurodiversity which seems to believe Autism isn’t an illness which needs to be treated just accepted in society without integration just accomodation. That behaviors don’t need to be worked to conquer/alleviated just accomodated because they are appropriate from the Autists frame of thinking. Which seems to be a mindset lacking in empathy for the autist who must learn to function within a predominantly non autistic world and those who they interact with as well.

      The activities of the mother have seemed to have a glaring lack of empathy to her son’s distress and to those around her-I’m wondering if this sect of “Neurodiversity” is part of her belief system.

      Nita

    • lambchop

      God grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change;
      courage to change the things I can;
      and wisdom to know the difference.

      Again I ask where is Mrs. Race’s WISDOM?
      wis·dom (wzdm)
      n.
      1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
      2. Common sense; good judgment: “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things” Henry David Thoreau.

      I knew Mrs. Race long ago. I came away with the feeling – it’s her way or the highway. She is a college educated woman, but where is a sense of wisdom, wisdom to know the difference. I read the St. Paul paper, 5-24-08 by C. Sullivan
      and I wonder the exact same thing.
      Carol Race what is your end game? To raise awareness or to raise Cain?
      The quote above (HDT) uses the word desparate. Is Carol Race doing desparate, things? Why not quit fighting, and spend all your time and energy to being a good mother to your family. Don’t we all thirst for serenity in this mess?

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      I refer frequently here to the website

      Neurodiversity.com

      and especially to Kathleen Seidel’s fine blog, in which she carefully and critically analyzes vaccine injury litigation and questionable scientific treatments.

      Neurodiversity is coming somewhat from the “disability studies” perspective I have mentioned in some comments. One thing that neurodiversity offers is to try to understand autism from the perspective of someone who is autistic and to be more wary of the presumptions that non-autistic persons have about autism.

      A great deal of debate tends to go on about how it’s fine for “hfa” adults with autism/Asperger to say that it is their identity to be autistic, but that when one’s child is severely autistic and non-verbal, that’s not an option. My son is more characterized by the latter. ABA — which has been met with a great deal heavy criticism from “neurodiversity advocates”— remains an effective teaching method for Charlie, and has proved to be especially helpful in teaching him to deal with his SIBs (head-banging).

      As with the above discussion, I think there’s most to be learned from approaching these ideas with thoughtfulness and respect, and not fear and anger. Many parents, however much they think “neurodiversity” is “evil” and ridiculous, do still appreciate and accept, if not always embrace, the “difference”-quirkiness-autism of their children.

      Some past commenters have informed me that I promote “neurodiversity ideology” here and I won’t be surprised if they jump in.

      As in this post.

      http://www.autismvox.com/theories-and-tactics/

      It could be said, from the position of neurodiversity, that the of use restraints and some behavior modification techniques by the Races would be contrary to it.

      For myself, I prefer not to judge the decisions of another parent in circumstances that I only know from reports. Being the parent of an autistic child sometimes is like being pregnant—-everyone’s got an opinion about what you should do. Parents, whatever their beliefs, share more at the end of the day than they disagree about.

    • CliftonBristol

      I’ve seen one incident vaguely related to this. One Palm Sunday, when
      the priest was proclaiming the Gospel in the narthex, a boy, perhaps
      about 9 years old (I’d never seen before) and presumably having some
      developmental problems, started making noises and running/jumping in
      the direction of the priest (who was facing the other direction, due to the setup). His mother caught him after he had covered
      about 40 of the 50 feet. I can’t imagine that he really posed a threat,
      and the whole thing passed without incident.

    • http://mikestanton.wordpress.com mike stanton

      Nita
      read my post on Neurodiversity. It is not a sect and it is not about not intervening. It is more about an ethical basis for intervening based on respect for the person and respect for the condition of being autistic.

      By analogy, you would not try to normalize their behaviour by teaching a paraplegic to walk. But you would help them to find alternative means of mobility. We try and do likewise with autistic people while respecting their neurological difference.

    • http://autiegraph.blogspot.com Melody

      I believe in the ideals of neurodiversity, and I of course see nothing wrong with getting rid of self-injury – most criticisms of ABA are about when aversives are used, or when harmless behaviors are sought to be eliminated, or when the technique otherwise is emotionally or physically harmful (such as being too intensive). When it doesn’t consist of these things, I do not think negatively of the use of ABA (and most fellow autistic advocates I have read their opinions on this agree to roughly these standards).

      What is definitely clear about this is that the situation, as it was, was not beneficial to either Adam or the other people there. I think both parties could have been more flexible in working out a solution. Also I think that a better use of this case would be to raise a discussion of the issues of disability, accomodation, and inclusion in places such as church in general, as we don’t have a very clear picture of the specifics of this case.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Second to your last statement—and here’s a several page article on neurodiversity in New York magazine.

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    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      From Christian Today:

      Autism campaigners are now calling on Pope Bendeict to issue guidelines to Roman Catholic churches on how to deal with children and adults with disabilities like autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Other Church leaders around the world have been urged to do the same.

      No pope has ever talked publicly over autism and Pope Benedict has been asked to address this issue in the wake of the controversy in Minnesota.

      Churches are being asked to understand the complex needs of children and adults with autism.

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    • Dee Dee

      Ok here is my take on it….Society as whole has yet to treat our kids with human kindness. Our kids are treated as second rate citizens who are not entitiled to respect, dignity or acceptance. And it really pisses me off when I see such ignorance from a church! What next? Will that church ban people who are HIV positive? Who have epilepsy and have a seizure during the service? Where does it say in the Bible that only certain ones are welcome in God’s House?! Show me!!! Yes -this really hit a nerve with me! As far as I am concerned that priest should be the one kicked out!! The last I heard it is God’s House-Not his! jmo

    • William

      Dee Dee, Here is my take on you.
      You haven’t bothered to read the news reports or even this blog, have you?
      You have no clue about what happened in that church, do you?
      You barely scanned the headlines and now you are all worked up in righteous indignation.

      You are a part of the problem!

      By the way it’s also obvious that you don’t read the Bible.

    • William

      Dee Dee,
      Since you mentioned the Bible I thought this might interest you.

      Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      DeeDee wrote:

      “Society as whole has yet to treat our kids with human kindness.”

      Yes.

      @William,

      Purging has been discussed in a more literal fashion here (the “purging” of heavy metals via an alternative medical treatment, chelation).

      I find your quotation from Scripture, with its mention of “death,” troubling. Please note the context of the community here.

    • William

      @Dee Dee said, “Where does it say in the Bible that only certain ones are welcome in God’s House?! Show me!!! Yes -this really hit a nerve with me! As far as I am concerned that priest should be the one kicked out!!”

      Kristina Chew, PhD, Dee Dee requested a Biblical passage.
      I supplied it.

      I do not believe the quote is truth.
      I do not believe the quote should be acted upon.
      I don’t believe that the Bible should be taken literally.
      I certainly don’t believe that that Biblical passage is worth the parchment it’s scribbled on.
      Nonetheless, Dee Dee asked to be shown.

      That she would use the Bible to facilitate that “that priest should be the one kicked out!!”,
      should be troubling to one and all.

      I consider it fair game, when someone tries to use the Bible to harm another, for that person to see how quick it can backfire on them.

      Please forgive my lapse of kindness.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Thank you for the clarification.

    • William

      Thank you for being a proficient moderator. :)

    • lambchop

      Carol Race is a very obstinate woman. I wish she would just stay home and spend her time and energy on raising her family. Taking care of Adam and fighting all these allegations is robbing her family of her time and energy. I thought Adam needed routine. What kind of a routine is this merry go round she is on. I do not view Carol as a good example of a Christian.
      One newspaper article said what will your end game be? Raising awareness about autism or raising Cain? Carol has been called a trouble maker by the people in her community. Does John Race have any control in this family?

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    • http://www.mnautism.org/ Daniel Marsh

      I agree, that the media can get something wrong. Assuming that they are wrong is worse in this case because you are saying ineffect that the whole church is lying. Shame on you, my friend.

      The courts have a higher standard. And the courts have given them a restraining order. From what I have been reading the church has tried to work things out, but Adam’s parents are refusing to work things out. Any child getting into vechiles and starting the engines raises red flags. How did Adam get hold of their car keys? Why isn’t this boy on a leash so to speak? This all points to problems with the parents alone. If they are over their heads, then they have help avilable for the asking.

      Grabbing a young lady the way he did is sexual harassment at least, if not assult on her person. Would you want Adam grabbing your daughter and treating her that way? Or peeing on the floor in front of your children?

      I think the solution, is to set up medical house churches which can serve those who are bed ridden and serve those with handicaps whoose behavior is a danger to others. The fact that the parents have to restrain the boy using literal restrants is proof alone of a problem.
      http://www.ausm.org/

    • Tim Wolf

      In the midst of righteous indignation, an important legal aspect seems to be ignored. Carol race admits her son started the vehicles of other people and revved the engines while people were in the vehicles path (keep in mind this is a 13 year old). ( http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=4885322&page=2 ) She says the sound of revving engines calms him. Keep in mind the Church is legally responsible and liable for any injury or death caused if it fails to take action. Some feel too much emphasis is put in his size or that his actions or not a danger to others, but if he is out of control, and someone is hurt, it will be the deep pockets of the parish paying for it, whether he knocks down an elderly person, drives over a baby carriage, or hits another child. Ask yourself this question. If a 225lb 13 year old muscled his way into your vehicle, started your car, revved up the engine while your family members were standing in the vehicles path, would you be upset?

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    • thankyoufairy

      I’ve been very interested and very conflicted about this situation. I have a brain-related disability. With my sensory issues, attending a typical mass is painfully uncomfortable. The noises bother me, and the layers of chemical scents from perfumes, cosmetics and even baby wipes give me horrible headaches. I’m not comfortable surrounded by so many people, and I feel incredibly restless. When I was a teenager, the medication I took made me feel like I would climb out of my skin. It seemed worse in church, where I felt constrained. The feeling of Sunday clothes against my skin was awful. My parents required attendence at mass every Sunday; now that I’m an independent adult, I avoid going to mass unless I feel like I can handle it. If I do attend mass, I seek out the smallest, quietest service possible. I’ve attended private masses before when I was too sick to attend regular services, and I found them much more comforting than a typical mass. I’m a big believer in disability rights but I can’t help wondering if perhaps a more private mass, either at home or through a video feed, might be less anxiety-provoking for Adam.

    • http://www.momlogic.com/2008/06/autistic_child_kicked_out_of_c.php#over1 William

      An interview with Carol Race posted on MomLogic.

      Momlogic: Tell us about your experiences with Adam at church.
      Carol: Up until June last year, I don’t believe anyone had complaints against him. It seems like in the spring of 2007, there were more complaints among parishioners. Unless you’re used to what my son does, it can be shocking. Mostly he makes humming noises. Often it’s his physical position. We always sit in the back pew–he would lay on the floor, lay on the pew, sometimes he would hop the pew to go to the empty space in the back. If his anxiety level is very high, we use fleece strips to tie his hands or feet–I tie one end on one wrist and one on the other and I hold it with one of my hands. It’s a mechanical advantage. We keep that on for however he needs it.

      He doesn’t want to misbehave. Once he refused to go into church until it was tied on his ankle. I realized he was afraid of what might happen and he did have an anxiety attack later. It isn’t something he fights against. Once he gets it on his wrist it doesn’t take long for him to calm down. It’s almost as if he says, “Good! Mom’s got control so I can relax.” It’s during these moments when he has a bout of anxiety that frightens other parishioners, because they don’t understand the mechanisms. It’s shocking when people don’t understand autism and don’t understand meltdowns. But these are simple anxiety attacks, and no one is in danger. I haven’t been given the opportunity to explain. People on the outside say that these are violent outbursts. On May 9, the policeman came to our house and delivered the restraining order.

      Momlogic: How did Adam take the news?
      Carol: He knows things are going on about him. The first couple of days after the media story broke he just slept all day. I’ve attended every Mass for the last 12 years. Except for one time where we had to wrestle him down, I don’t believe he was disruptive. Is there disruption going on? Yes, if you hear it, but it’s not the sound that disrupts them, it’s the thoughts about the sound that disrupts. If it brings up the thoughts, “I don’t know why they’re at church” or “I don’t like that family” then yes, it is disruptive. But that’s where spiritual leadership comes in.

      I am currently going to another Mass with Adam. The people there are nervous because they don’t know what to expect. The first few Sundays they have to get used to how Adam is. The last couple of months he has been doing very well, he sits, stands and kneels and tries to do the sign of the cross. He hasn’t really been making noises at church.

    • William

      http://www.momlogic.com/2008/06/autistic_child_kicked_out_of_c.php#over1

      Here is the link for the MomLogic interview of Carol Race.

    • allmychildren

      Have any of you seen the new web site called -
      Project: Adam’s Pew ?? I stumbled upon it and find it quite interesting. Can Carol and John really feel wanted at their old parish (St. Joseph’s) church. I would be so ashamed by all this media, and publicity (much of it is negative).
      What a shame for this small town. Carol seemed to glow in the lime light, loving all the attention. Where does she find time to properly care for her demanding family needs? Her priorities seem disturbing to me.

    • Mom of 7

      Once again I read an interview with Carol Race.

      She was being totally disengenious.

      Adam attended mass there for 12 years to her own admission. They didn’t file the order because he had his wrists bound, because he was making noise etc as she states. They encouraged her for 12 years to bring her son and awarded her for her efforts to bring disabled children into the church community.

      They filed a restraining order when his behaviors became not disruptive but dangerous to others and she refused to acknowledge that fact and effectively evaluate her son’s needs, the fact that she again does that in this article shows her total lack of honesty on the issue. I think the one she is harming by her disconnect is her son.

      Adam is extremely overstimulated by mass at this time in a public setting. She accuses others of wanting him not to be autistic. Her behaviors are the ones trying to make Adam act like a non autist.

      She needs to accept what she can’t change right now(-Adam is overstimulated by the church setting-)change the things that she can-(have him attend mass in a less stimulating environment which the priest he hates offered) and have THE WISDOM to know the difference.

    • Mom of 7

      Once again I read an interview with Carol Race.

      She was being totally disengenious.

      Adam attended mass there for 12 years to her own admission. They didn’t file the order because he had his wrists bound, because he was making noise etc as she states. They encouraged her for 12 years to bring her son and awarded her for her efforts to bring disabled children into the church community.

      They filed a restraining order when his behaviors became not disruptive but dangerous to others and she refused to acknowledge that fact and effectively evaluate her son’s needs, the fact that she again does that in this article shows her total lack of honesty on the issue. I think the one she is harming by her disconnect is her son.

      Adam is extremely overstimulated by mass at this time in a public setting. She accuses others of wanting him not to be autistic. Her behaviors are the ones trying to make Adam act like a non autist.

      She needs to accept what she can’t change right now(-Adam is overstimulated by the church setting-)change the things that she can-(have him attend mass in a less stimulating environment which the priest she hates offered) and have THE WISDOM to know the difference.

    • Mom of 7

      Dee Dee I’m sorry this has hit such a sore spot for you.

      Sometimes though our behaviors or lack of consideration of others have consequences.

      This church loved and encouraged this family to participate for 12 years. It even nominated and awarded the mother for her work within the catholic church to educate the church on how to include disabled persons & worked in the community with disabled persons to attend church.

      Adam did not wake up at the age of 12 and develope Autism. The church “never complained until 2007″ according to the mother. She blames the change on a new priest because she isn’t acknowledging that at puberty Adam is going through some changes in behavior and her ability to physically control his behavior changes has diminished because of his size.

      Sometimes our desires to include our children and find ways to accomodate their special needs have to be tempered by a thoughtful consideration of what is best for our children.

      Adam is greatly stimulated by the mass AT THIS TIME, maybe as puberty progresses that will diminish and the issue can be readdressed.

      If you knew a situation caused your child escalating stress reactions each week would you honestly insist on taking him into that situation?

    • Chuck

      Once again I also read an interview.

      “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.”

      If disruptive and erratic behavior and the treat of what “might” happen oppose to what “did” happen is all it takes to be banned from the church, how many parishioners and priests will be banned from attending mass next week?

    • Chuck

      If you knew a situation caused your child escalating stress reactions each week would you honestly insist on taking him into that situation?

      BTDT in church.

    • Mom of 7

      Chuck-engine revving in parking lot with history of crashing family’s vehicles. is not just a minor issue.

      I think you honestly would not allow that to continue with your child. Nor would you think that revving a car engine was an appropriate way to calm your child at home.

    • Chuck

      I took the keys to the family car, started it up, and accidently knocked it out of park and ran the car into a wall of my home when I was 6.

      The church hasn’t banned me yet.

    • Chuck

      ” Nor would you think that revving a car engine was an appropriate way to calm your child at home.”

      Some days I WISH it was that easy.

    • Tim Wolf

      Chuck: Acceptance, understanding and toleration are two-way streets. You weren’t a danger to other church-goers when you were 6 and had an incident with your family car at your home. Adam is doing this at the Church, multiple times, and with other families’ vehicles. These types of incidents are classified as vehicular hijacking or grand theft auto in many places. If when you knocked the car out of park you hit several people at church rather than a wall at your home, would you expect a reaction? What if this was part of a pattern of multiple incidents? It’s easy to be angry at the world, but if we want acceptance or want to be a part of the world, is there not a responsibility to be rationally understanding of other people’s feelings?

    • http://joeyandymom.blogspot.com/ Joeymom

      Multiple times? I had only heard of the one incident. If this was “multiple times” you would think other parishioners, knowing the situation, would have taken extra measures to accommodate the family and ensure safety. Like locking their cars and not leaving the keys in them.

    • Mom of 7

      Joey Mom at some point it has to be the parent’s responsibility to have proper supervision of their Child.

      Having a disability may make one more prone to inappropriate activities but Adam is not untrainable or without the ability to be supervised.

      If our children are in settings where we can’t supervise them properly without being a physical risk to others then we need to reevaluate where we are taking them.

      Accomodation and respect is a two way street.

    • raymond

      Adam should have the ability to be supervised properly. From what I have read Carol is involved with “Adam’s Pew” and going to court and speaking on tv. Plus Adam is on some dairy, gluten free diet. That takes a lot of time to prepare those speciality foods. Maybe she has her priorities wrong. She should be raising a family, as that takes a lot of time. She is wasting her time going to court. I am a parent and I follow the rules of society. If I choose to show up where I had a restraining order against me, that would be breaking the law. Choices, some people can make the right choices, some people make the wrong choices.

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    • Redtown

      Carol Race’s response in the Star Tribune was most telling: “I totally understand that the church environment in this case has to be safe.
      But the bottom line is one out of 150 births includes an autistic child and as a society we have to deal with it. We have to be able to go out to church and restaurants and events as one family.”

      So Ms. Race, an activist, self-proclaimed “Moses” of families with autistic children, admits that her out-of-control son poses a safety risk to others. But everyone else still has to conform to her politically correct views of inclusion.

      The judge sensibly put public safety first: your rights to accommodation end where others’ rights to public safety begin.

    • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

      Still find it odd that the judge would use the word “harassment regarding Adam Race.

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