Thursday, June 21, 2007

Church asks mom and disabled child to leave

A woman whose husband in the National Guard was off on duty was asked to leave a church service when her disabled daughter's squealing during singing was seen as disruptive.

""It wasn't quiet," said Harvey, who chose the Household of Faith despite her Catholic upbringing, because the church had a reputation for spirited worship.

"The band was playing, people were singing and clapping and shouting 'hallelujah', and Teagan got excited." Because Teagan can't communicate verbally, Harvey said, she began squealing and letting out little screams.

"She was singing her praises the only way she knows how," Harvey said.

But as the music played on, Harvey said she was tapped on the shoulder by an usher and told that she and Teagan would have to leave.

"As a parent of a disabled child, you tend to prepare yourself for the comments and the looks," Harvey said, "but I hadn't prepared myself emotionally for this because it was church." Via Union Leader

The comments to this article are very interesting. Most people are shocked that this would happen, but I do receive emails from parents of children with disabilities who are told their child's behavior cannot be tolerated. Most of the time, the entire family stops going to church out of the fear of being treated like that again. I'm always happy to talk to them about alternatives and resources.

Some will say that any disruptive child should be removed - at least temporarily - during a service. I wasn't there but this mother indicates the congregation was singing at the time and particularly noted that it wasn't during a time when services were quiet. If that is the case, then based on much of the singing I've heard in church, I'd think she'd fit right in. Nor was the mother given a chance to quiet her child down.

Certainly this article highlights the importance of a dialogue toward inclusion when the end result is that people are being turned away from churches and services.

Any thoughts or experiences with this?


Anonymous said...

I think it's appalling that this was handled so poorly. It's not necessary to go to that extreme and actually turn parents and children away or make them uncomfortable. Whatever happened it was not even addressed later by the church pastor which speaks volumes.

My son is autistic. Often he acts out. I don't expect people to understand his behavior and I'm willing to take him to a lobby if it's disruptive. I go to a Catholic church where I've talked to the priest about it. I explained I cannot come without my son and he was very understanding and kind. He offered several alternatives after we talked about the best way to balance our needs with others' needs to hear the service. At no time did I feel judged or unwelcome. Never did my priest say that I shouldn't bring Ryan.

But not talking about these things doesn't work.

God bless you for your blog.


Anonymous said...

Lady,.....fuck that church.
You don't need them.
Thats the main reson I don't go to church myself. Over the years, I have learned that alot of those "church goers" or "religous type" are just hypocrits. I think if your a good person and you do good for others and are nice to others, then yo uare already at peace w/ god. You don't need to go to a church to balance out the bad things youve done. I belive most people go just to prove to others that they are "good people" or "good christians" or to justify the bad things they have done in life. Sorry for the rant, but when I read your story, I was very irritated and it further solidified my beliefs in church.

Anonymous said...

I was struck at how many people in the comments over there invited the woman and her daughter to their church.

Penny L. Richards said...

We've never been asked to leave directly; there are often blanket reminders in church bulletins that "Parents may avail themselves of the quiet room or nursery when children become restless or disruptive"--which at least isn't a personal ejection, I guess. And once when I took my kid out of church by my own decision that he needed a change of scene, a woman tapped me afterwards and said she was "so glad" I did that--WTH? I didn't do it for you, lady, I did it for him.

Any church that's too uptight to deal with a few expressive sounds of joy is a church that needs to reexamine its style of fellowship. I understand the place for quiet meditation, and a "moment of silence," but in corporate worship there has to be allowance for the diversity of congregants, too.

Adoro said...


I think I could GUARANTEE that would not happen in my parish.

Our Archbishop, when celebrating the Installation Mass of our current Pastor, actually stopped a woman from leaving because her child was crying. He commented that if it was only tears and noise, she need not leave...such a cry, in our culture, is a blessing and alone gives wonderful glory to God not only in the very life of the child but the "yes" of the parents so willing to welcome this gift to the world.

I have seen several disabled people in my parish, parents with their children. I used to attend the 10:30 mass, and there was a family with an adult "boy" (He actually looked to be around 16 or 17 or so, could have been older) who would stand up at inappropriate times and just look around. He really didn't say much. I do remember when he did interject a comment, I can't remember what it was, but I found it both appropriate and humorous given the context of the Mass (which was very reverent)...he was merely childlike.

I learned to get used to his standing up when no one else was standing, and if he was not obedient to his parents who tried to unobtrusively encourage him to sit, he at least remained (mostly) silent.

Having worked professionally with people like him, I really admired this family....they had not passed him on to a group home with a parade of "staff" who might or might not really care for him as a human being, but kept him within their family and their love was so apparent, all around them were affected by it.

Yeah, it's annoying when someone sings badly, or a child screams during the homily, or maybe another child praises in his own way completely out of tune with the music, but God never promised us that life would be harmonious...rather, he charged us to understand that we are to accept and understand disharmony, and correct only that disharmony that denied him.

That usher denied God that day. I wouldn't let it necessarily reflect upon the church as a whole unless it was a standardized procedure. If so...well, then, not the people but those who made the rules. They will stand up to God's judgment, but hopefully see the error of their thinking before they ever reach that point.

I'll just end my missive here.

Anonymous said...

I was asked to take my child out of services several times at different churches because he made noises. He was also severely disabled and even though he made noises that were "different" it wasn't very loud.

He's gone home to God now. I'm sure no one will ask him to leave there. And I no longer go to church.