We haven’t been to church since Easter. I get a lot of anxiety when we take Angel to church because of his behavior, so we sit out most Sundays. Last Easter, we had a good experience because one of the staff in the church’s child care room works with kids with autism.
Is this the church we went to today? No. We decided to go to another church, which is a little closer to home. Thankfully Angel’s community habilitation staff, “Mr. L” works on Sundays because we really needed the extra support. I have compiled a list of the mistakes I made and this is my way of telling you not to follow in my footsteps.
- I did not take my “bag of tricks.” A very close friend of mine told me that whenever she takes her daughters out, she always has her “bag of tricks.” If I had taken her advice, I would’ve had my bag full of all the things that Angel likes to keep him occupied. My bag would have been filled with blocks, ipad, etch a sketch, crayons, paper, and a toy truck. Instead of the things he loves, I only took a fidget and it ended up being a big joke. Angel kept throwing it behind the pew and it did not keep him attentive.
- I did not call to find out if they had Sunday School. On the rare occasion that we go to church, I try to make sure that they have child care or at least Sunday School, i.e. something to keep Angel engaged for two plus hours. Well today when we got to church, I found out that there is no Sunday School until September. I know my son and there is no way he was going to sit still for a two and a half hour church service. I knew right away that our experience was going to be a hot mess.
- I did not have enough snacks. Who knew that Angel would develop a ravenous appetite in the middle of the church service? Within one hour of the service, his snack bag was empty. As the service progressed, Angel starts yelling: “Apple! Apple!” “I do not have any apples,” I replied. Then he yells, “Grapes! Grapes!” “I do not have any grapes,” I replied. And on and on he went. During the course of the service, he asked for pizza, cake (which he does not even like), snacks, and food. Then he started banging his head on the back of the pew ahead of us because he was upset that I had no more snacks. I promised him popcorn but he did not want to wait. At that point, I needed Jesus to just come and take the wheel.
- I decided to let Angel stay with “Mr. L” while I went for communion. Boy was that a mistake. Angel started screaming because he wanted to come to the altar with me. It was a mess. “Mr. L” tried to contain Angel. God bless him. He really tried. Despite the fact that Angel bit and scratched him.
- We went to church. Oh sorry. Did I write that? I am on the fence about this last one but in the spirit of being honest I added it. Every time Angel screamed as he tossed and turned UNDER the pews, the thought cross my mind. Yes I know, I have to expose him to different environments. But in the heat of the moment that was the last thing on my mind. I do hope that as we go out more, things will get better. Are we going to church next Sunday? I really can’t say. Time will tell.
P.S. We did get glares and stares from some members of the congregation but overall they were okay. Update: I stand corrected. I just learned that while I was getting communion one of the ushers asked “Mr. L” if Angel has autism. He answered, “Yes. And?” I guess the usher’s tone was not tolerant. Can’t win them all.
Do you take your child to church? What has been your experience? Please share in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.