A court granted a Catholic priest's request for a restraining order against the parents of a 13 year old boy with autism who has been attending the church. Legal documents indicate that the boy struck a girl, urinates and spits while in church, and has almost knocked down elderly parishioners. There were other alleged incidents of unsafe behavior, such as the boy starting two parishioners' cars up after rushing out of Mass into the parking lot, leading to fears that he might run into someone.His mom says that the boy did strike the girl and he is incontinent, but denies that he spits.
A court date has now been set for the violation of the restraining order, since his parents continued to take him to Mass.
The coverage of this story is, to say the least, raising more questions than giving answers. Vague, sensational reporting.
For example, I don't really know what was done to avoid getting to the point where a restraining order was requested, which by all means as a disability advocate I believe should have been avoided. I have read that the priest and others visited the boys' family and discussed alternative arrangements, which were turned down by the family. What were these alternatives and why were they turned down by the family? What steps were taken to address the safety issues before seeking a restraining order? The media coverage falls short as do the court papers which indicate that accommodations were offered.
Legal documents state that: [The] church "explored and offered many options for accommodations that would assist the family while protecting the safety of parishioners. The family refused those offers of accommodation."
The confusion surrounding the facts in this story add to the sensationalism the media is creating around this story. This is a lose-lose for everyone when it's come to this point.
The family is attending a different church and the local sheriff told the press he hopes that this can be resolved in court on June 2. This post discussing the reasons for inclusion is a worthwhile read and a timely one as we pray for the resolution of this difficult situation. You can also find materials on inclusion on the top right of my blog. And, of course, my posts on inclusion at the tags below.