The confirmation program in our parish requires Catholic school students to attend the Lifeteen Mass once a month, and the Lifenight that follows. This was the week and I took my son to mass tonight. Since I never quite outgrew youth masses, I stayed. Part of autism is sensory sensitivity--in short loud music hurts his ears. The work-around we've found for the Lifeteen mass is to let him sit in the cryroom, where the music all comes in over the speaker, and where the speaker has a volume control knob. I asked if he wanted me to sit with him and he said no, so I sat in the pew. Behind me were a couple of pews of high school kids behaving badly, whispering and giggling during mass. Its times like that, when surrounded by normal high school kids that my son's handicap hits me the hardest. I found myself wishing he was back there cutting up with the other kids.
People who write stuff for the parents of handicapped kids sometimes say that you have to let yourself mourn for the kid you didn't have, and maybe that's what I was doing tonite, because after communion the tears flowed. At this point, we really don't know what the future holds, he has some real strengths--he is kind, he is smart, he isn't easily led to do things he knows he shouldn't (one advantage to not noticing coolness). On the other hand, school gets more difficult every year. He isn't showing the ability to stick with a task or self direct. He has no social skills. It's hard to see him holding down a real job. Sometimes he seems almost normal, other times it seems like he is so different from the other kids. The last few months have been really tough especially.
In tonights homily Fr. was telling us that ways of dealing with problems like anger, passive agression, avoidance etc. were harmful to us and didn't help--what helps is asking for help in prayer and of people we love. I have been praying about this more lately, I guess I need to keep it up and let Him lead us on this journey.