Bringing a child with special needs to religious services sure can make you pray for salvation. We've tried, but Max hates crowds and refuses to sit there. He also doesn't quite understand what's going on. Usually either Dave or I end up up hanging with him in the playground, and the other goes to the children's service with Sabrina. The neurotypical kid's service, I should say.
At some point last year, I don't remember when, I had a hissy fit over the fact that our congregation does not offer any services or programs for kids with special needs. I emailed all of the clergy people. I got profuse apologies, calls, invitations to come in and talk.
I hate to say it, but I never followed up. I had too much going on. Also? For once, I would have liked someone to say, "You know, you are right, how could we have overlooked that? We will figure something out!" Instead of my having to go there, discuss it and make a case for it. I mean, really, what is there to talk about? There are no current programs in the congregation for kids with special needs. My child isn't the only one with special needs. Do something.
We've considered switching congregations, but haven't. We are not very religious about attendance, so to speak, and the matter hasn't come up again. Only next Thursday is the Jewish New Year, and we will be in temple. And once again, I am not sure what to do about Max.
Max has definitely matured, and we could try once again to seat him with us and pacify him with his favorite small toys, although I am not sure other worshipers would appreciate the rattle of Lightning McQueen cars. And I'd really like to be able to focus on my own praying. It's the purest time of reflection I get.
Last year's not-so-great solution was to place Max in the childcare center. The other kids there were all younger, though Max was perfectly content. The woman in charge was an amazing special ed teacher. Still, I wondered what good it was doing him to be there, as the rest of us prayed, and whether we should have left Max at home with his regular babysitter and gone without him. But that seemed awfully wrong.
Max is involved in a wonderful Sunday morning program, which helps him grasp concepts of religion. I discuss simple ideas at home, too. But in order for Max to participate in our congregation in any meaningful way, he'd need to be in a service for kids with special needs. That's not happening this year. And I'm on the line about what to do.
Show me a sign?
Do you bring your kids to religious services? Does your temple, church, mosque or center have programs for kids with special needs?