This is the seventh in a series of posts written by a mother of a son with autism, reflecting on her experience with her church community. Some of her observations serve as challenges to the way we do church, while others should be encouraging to the people who have made a difference in the lives of her and her family. The names in this story are fictional, but their experiences are not.
I’ve been in an out of writing all weekend, adding and deleting paragraphs while Michael has been unlocking the bathroom door with knives. At last count, he’s been in there over 10 times! We’re going to need a different type of lock especially since they’re not all dinner knives that he’s using.
Our son loves being enveloped in water: Swimming pools, baths, showers or otherwise. He especially loves baths in the winter when the pool is not available. He has multiple baths each day and this is the reason for all the knives. He unlocks the bathroom door, as he has seen his parents do, and then strips and calls me from the tub. Although Michael can turn the shower faucet to extremely cold or hot (not lukewarm or warm), engage and disengage the shower, and turn the bath water off, he thankfully can’t turn the water on (yet!).
We allow Michael to have baths at certain times, and then we wrestle him out of the bathroom at other times – compliance is an issue which he can’t understand! Sometimes we give in because, well, it’s just easier.
When he’s in the water he’s happy and we’re happy.
This leads to a possible scenario that has crossed my mind if we were to take Michael to church and another reason to avoid taking him. I envision him witnessing baptism while at church – we’d be done for! Michael would be nude before he left the aisle and, with no regard for modesty, he’d be quicker than the roadrunner to get into that tank. There would be no stopping him! He would remain there, oblivious to the world until he was removed or the water was drained… Wouldn’t that make a great YouTube video! The tank would then be his focus every time he entered the church (and not just the sanctuary) then and ever after. As you can see, he wouldn’t be able to go on those Sundays. Just as importantly, we will have to make sure he doesn’t learn that the tank exists since he turns on any faucet he sees.
Every Sunday would be baptism Sunday.