Sunday, March 12, 2017

Autism & Church

Since the day Trenton has entered this world, he has been difficult to take places. I never knew why when he was a baby but obviously after he was diagnosed with autism, I knew exactly why he screamed the second I would step foot in a store or why he would run away and throw himself down on the ground in a full blown meltdown.

Even though going places was always difficult, I never gave up on a few places and one of those places was church. Many autism parents give up on going to church because it is difficult but I knew if I wanted to make it possible, I had to stick with it. I had to go through the unthinkable with him. I had to do it!

I most definitely went through some very hard times at church. I spent many times at church in the nursery with him in a meltdown. I spent many Sundays in drenched clothes because I had sweat through my clothes from embarrassment  because WW111 was going on in our pew. Most of the time when we were in the auditorium no one could hear anything other than the cries and noises from my children, especially Trenton.

He has ran up and down the aisle. He has tried to lead singing and has tried to even preach:) Every time he would run up to the front of the church, I just kindly ran after him, grabbed his hand and gave the church a nice nod and smile and walked back to our pew dying on the inside. After we would reach our pew, the battles would start again, immediately.

He has thrown things across pews...even big things such as play doh and hitting a lady in the head with it. But, I didn't quit, not even after that:)

Ninety-nine percent of my Sundays I left after 45 minutes and Andrew stayed behind with my parents. During most of that 45 minutes we were only in our pew about five minutes. Like I mentioned above he was all over the place, running to and from Sunday School name it....we went through it.

It was hard. It was embarrassing. It was hard work but I didn't give myself a choice. I knew I had to do it if I ever wanted to be able to go to church and that is the most important thing to me. Therefore, I stuck with it...Sunday after Sunday the same battles.

I remember when my mother suggested that I move to Terre Haute in order to get the boys help. One of the first things out of my mouth was, " I will never be able to go to church." When we lived in Illinois I had my parents to help me because we lived by them and went to the same church. I had no one to go with me and help me if I moved to Terre Haute. My husband at the time didn't go so I would have no one. However, after the choice was made to move, what did I do? I still continued to battle the battle of going to church. Talk about being nervous!!! Going to a whole new church with a child with severe autism who doesn't quit moving!!!! Wow! I made my parents come visit me every Sunday for while to help me:)

I won't get into every detail but here I am 6 1/2 years into our autism journey. Six and a half years of going through what most parents end up giving up on because it is merely impossible. Well, now for the last several months going to church is the best experience ever!!!! Needless to say I have an amazing church who goes above and beyond to help me. Trenton goes to class with an amazing lady who happens to be a speech pathologist and knows and understands autism! They have a special needs class now!!

I am so blessed! God can lead us to amazing people if we let him. I took the leap of faith and moved to Terre Haute and I put my faith in God that it would work out somehow to go to church with the boys and it sure did!!

I walk in every Sunday with the boys and we sit in our pew together for a good thirty minutes before Trenton goes and spends the rest of the time in the special needs class.

If someone would have told me two years ago that in 2017 Trenton will be able to tolerate  a good thirty minutes during the start of worship, I would not have believed them! BUT HE DOES!!! He does because I didn't give up. I fought through the hard times. I fought through the embarrassing times to make this possible. We stuck with it and didn't give up. I believed and wanted it to happen and it is coming true! Now don't get me wrong, we still have our moments during that half hour that he is in church. He isn't quiet as a mouse. He makes his noises and I am sure everyone can hear him throughout the big auditorium but it simply goes with his autism. He verbal stimms a lot and everyone is so understanding! I constantly have to give him edible reinforcers during that time but we do it!

So, if you are new to your journey and go to church the only thing I can say is to not give up!!! Don't give up! Fight through it. Do whatever you need to do to survive at least a few minutes every Sunday and your length of time will eventually increase! It just takes time! I am only at a half hour and I have been doing it for 6 1/2 years!

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible

I snuck this picture last Sunday right before church started!

My tips for you if you want to make church happen for you and your child with autism.

1. Be consistent and do it every Sunday that you can
2. Sit in the same pew
3. Have a plan in place before you enter the door and follow that plan (routine) every Sunday
4. Start small and work your way up with how long you stay if you have to (Every child is different and can tolerate things differently.)
5. Go prepared with snacks, toys, headphones, and whatever else your child might need.
6. Educate the church.

1 comment:

  1. Brave and generous for you to share. I only take my son to church on special occasions since he was 5 he is 9 now. He did really well last time for 1.5 hours with a lot of people. So proud hopefully in the next year he can start going to Sunday soon.