As I alluded to in yesterday’s blog, we are having a hard time with Michael now when it comes to the big questions of God and Life and Roman Catholicism, in particular. He does not want to go to church lately. Sunday school is hard as the classes are bigger this year, the baby room with the toys is getting boring, and he can’t really understand the mass, as is pretty normal for any nine year old. I have not have a chance to do his Confirmation Catechism with me as he’s been too busy with academic work, but most worrisome of all, has been his admission that he does not want to talk about spirituality at all, refuses to read the religious holiday stories we usually read at this time of year, and his most recent admission:
“Mommy, I don’t feel God in my heart. I only feel Him when I take Communion. Not the rest of the time.”
The first time he said those words I was devastated spiritually. I had tried so hard against many therapists advising me not to introduce religion to someone with autism to instill in him he was not alone. There is a higher power, a purpose for him being here, for all of us being here. But I think he is struggling with the fact that God is abstract, not someone whom you can see or hear or touch. It is hard. I half expected to be facing these existential questions with him, but in the teen years. Not at nine. Not this year, with all the other issues of anxiety and aggression that have been coming out. My poor little guy. My heart is breaking for him. I don’t know how to help him. On the flip side, he is asking about his church exercises for Confirmation preparation, another rite of passage in the Catholic Church. I asked him if he is sure he wants to do this if he is having spiritual issues? I don’t use those words, of course, but I mean the same thing. And he still prays with me in the mornings and evenings, even at supper last night.
“Mommy, we need to say grace. To thank God.”
I don’t know what to make of this. I’m confused. I went through a period of questioning God, when I was in my teens. I told Michael the story. I know I have to be true to what I believe without pressuring Michael, but do I encourage him to come to mass, do I leave it alone? He gave a friend all his religious Christmas stories, yet can’t wait to start the catechism exercises. I told him we could take a year off catechism and see for next year. He seemed sad and said why couldn’t he do catechism. I told him to think about it and let me know in January. Even Christmas Eve mass is not being looked at in the same way this year. He is going on the condition that if it’s hard we leave. Normally, he’s been alright. I am going to pray, meditate and think on what is the best course of action to take. I am glad there is still a belief, a positive belief in a higher power, but I don’t want him to feel pressured to believe. It has been a holiday season of ease in the behaviors, but stress in the spiritual. I am in the meantime trying to be find the middle ground.
Exceptional Parents out there, how many of you are introducing your Exceptional Children to religion? What has your experience been, the ups and downs, or maybe just ups? I for one will never regret the journey we’ve been on, and whichever way we go, God is with us, and I know we will make the right choice. I think in the end it’s important that Exceptional Parents trust their instincts and know that somehow it will all work out in the end. Here’s wishing you all happy spiritual answers, whatever your faith or belief system. Until next time.