Church in the Back Row

There is a mystery virus making its way through our house this week, which meant I was single-parenting this morning at church. In some ways, I was looking forward to the opportunity to be with the boys in “big church” by myself because it is usually a very stressful event for our family. Jett struggles at church. Now we know it’s probably the Asperger’s, but since he was little church has been too noisy, too crowded, and too unpredictable. Too many opportunities to be overwhelmed, and his coping mechanisms left J and I very angry. There was the period where he took off his shoes, and wouldn’t put them back on. There was the period where he wanted to lay down on the kneeler and listen to the vibrations in the floor. There was the period where he drew a drum kit and then played the drums with 2 pencils the rest of the service. Plus, the random incidents of screaming and crying because the choir was too loud, the organ too loud, etc. And of course whatever he did, Carlos had to imitate.

Now that Jett is a bit older, he has figured out how to cope a little better. He draws for most of the service, and now will participate with me during Eucharist (more on that later). Frankly Carlos is more of a problem, because he REALLY likes to talk. In a loud stage whisper. That I’m sure they can hear all the way at the altar, even though we are often in the back.

So anyway, today, I was there by myself, and eager to study these kids and see where I can encourage more participation. I figure that’s the key to a more smooth church experience.

As soon as we were all in church, Carlos asked me which diamond I wanted. He had made a bracelet in Sunday School of pipe cleaners and beads, some of which were clear. It may be one of the sweetest pieces of jewelry anyone has ever given me. Of course, he took it back by the second hymn.

The boys settled in with their crayons and paper, and all was well, through the sermon. The sermon today was given by one of our clergy members who also has boys my kids age. His opening anecdote got the boys attention, and then the comments started. Do-overs were a big part of the sermon, and that was a hit. So was the phrase “blah blah blah”; and whenever foot washing was mentioned, well, the giggles were more than audible. I felt like I was witnessing a pediatric drinking game. They were poised and listening for those words. But hey, my 4 and 7-year-old were listening to a sermon (sort of).

After announcements and the Offertory, we started communion. By this point Carlos is all done. And really, he’s been semi-good for 40 minutes. That’s not bad for someone who’s only been peeing in a toilet for about a year. Jett, now that he can read, does great with this part. He knows what to expect now, and I think he feels in control reading along. And I love hearing his voice sing the Sanctus, and the Lord’s Prayer with me. He can sing the Lord’s Prayer! From memory!

As we are sitting and waiting for our turn to go to the altar (we are in the back row again) Carlos exclaims loudly “Oh, I get it!”. Now I’m not sure what he’s talking about, it may be that he understands that the usher tells us when it’s our turn to go forward, but it was a really well-timed exclamation. Less fun was the phrase “We’re drinking blood. This is blood!” while kneeling at the altar. Hmmm. We’ll have to work on that. At least he didn’t Superman jump back down the stairs and sprint back to our seats. That was Jett a few years ago.

The closing hymn is a total wash. Everyone is talking and laughing and wrestling. I’m busy gathering crayons and paper, and Jett is making sure I don’t recycle any of his special pictures. Then comes the dismissal where the congregation responds “Thanks be to God”. In my head (and sometimes out loud) I add we made it through another week.


About morelikeaveragemom

I'm a stay home mom with 3 kids. I am simply figuring it out as I go.
This entry was posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Kids and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Church in the Back Row

  1. Rhiannon says:

    Jack and I have pretty much the same response to the Big Church, except I didn’t think to draw a drum kit. Smart kid!

    Also you know there’s an official (or semi-official) sermon drinking game, right? Any time Mary mentions her kids, David mentions his father or Ken mentions Kierkegaard. With Chad it was either Bea Arthur or a Beatles lyric, I can’t remember which.

  2. Jane Maxwell says:

    There were about three years when there were absolutely no dust bunnies under any of the pews because my son spent all the services rolling around on the floor gathering them on his clothes. And the confession was pretty constant–praying for forgiveness while pinching him to hold still and be quiet.

  3. fiona2107 says:

    It’s nice to know that other families with AS children find church a bit of a challenge as well.
    We are guilty of staying home a little too often because it’s much easier than dealing with my son’s behaviour and/or meltdowns.
    It was great to read that you had a great outcome this week though 🙂

    • It is hard. Our rector’s wife told me once that it’s ok to miss sometimes, feeling homicidal when you leave church isn’t what it’s all about! I will say just hang in there. In the right community your child will feel accepted (and so will you). And it will get easier the more times you go and the more your child feels they know what’s going to happen. We also had to stop going to the contemporary family service because it was a bit too chaotic for Jack with kids running around, and different music each week. The more traditional service in a quieter space is a better match for him.

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