Author Topic: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question  (Read 6125 times)

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Lynn2000

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2014, 12:15:33 PM »
I can't say you shouldn't be bothered by this, because that's a personal decision, and I think people have a right to their physical boundaries. For me personally, it doesn't rise to a level where I would feel the need to speak to someone about it, especially if it was more the timing you objected to, and not the physical contact entirely.

If, based on his pattern of behavior, I thought that a quick handshake then would satisfy him, I probably would've done just that. Or, what about something like a quick shake of the head and the "shh" gesture? Maybe you could watch his mother and see if there's any consistent gesture she does to quietly signal to him.

Personally I would be more bothered if he was wanting a full-on hug (I'm not a hugger), or if he wanted to interact with me for as long as I was in reach, even after the handshake. In that case, I might see if I could avoid being in that position again (using a different line or going to Mass at a different time). The only thing I can think of to say to his mom (later) is something like, "Hey, I've got this nasty cold and I don't want to give it to people. Is there something I can say to Son when he tries to shake my hand that will get that across?" In other words, you want to know in order to help/protect him. Of course some might say, why are you going to church if you're that sick, and she will surely notice if you continue to shake hands with others, etc.. I do feel like if it's a somewhat subtle matter of timing, that might be too much to ask for.
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White Lotus

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2014, 12:28:55 PM »
People do that at our Temple, too, mostly in the pre-ceremony and after ceremony practice times. In the Main Hall! (Not supposed to interrupt people there; and there is always someone who forgets to turn off her/his phone, despite signs and even announcements!) It is very disruptive to be interrupted for me.  There is no solution at all that I can find that does not result in my losing my focus, because that happened at the time of the interruption.  Your situation may be a little easier, or maybe not.  "Later, Bill, I am praying now," might do it for you.  Can you join another line?  People tend to claim favored positions, so maybe you can avoid him?  Or plan that first you will perform an act of charity by shaking his hand, and then you will focus with no further interruptions?  I am sorry, I am just not sure there is a good solution.

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2014, 12:31:05 PM »
So a person with downs syndrome, still a person. Just a person whose communicates differently. So subtle clues just aren't going to work. This isn't because no one has taught him. This is the way his brain works. It's different from your brain (different, not wrong), and his mom has probably gone over at length with him appropriate church behavior. But what he can recall is "People will want to shake your, shake their hand, this is a friendly sign we use to welcome people at church", it's a general overview. Other people were shaking his hand, so he figured this was hand shaking time (everyone was standing up, like when everyone stood up and shook hands earlier, so hand shaking time, awesome).

The best way to handle this, is by directly speaking to him. Remember, he's a person. I would have shaken his hand quickly and then said "I'm going to pray quietly now, this is a time for quiet prayer", so he understood why you were done interacting with him. Or, if you really didn't want to shake his hand, saying "I'm praying right now, we'll shake hands later", to let him know what was going on. By remaining silent and not acknowledging him, what you were communicating to him, was that you didn't notice him or understand what he wanted. So he kept trying to let you know.

In the future, speak to him. Not in a scolding manner. If he tries to shake when you don't want too, just let him know now isn't a good time to shake hands.

TootsNYC

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2014, 12:35:45 PM »
If your goal is to keep your solemn focus, then a quick handshake and a return to your meditation is probably going to get you that goal *far* more rapidly and with less disruption and less energy expended than trying to teach him for the future.

Shake quickly, move on.

djinnidjream

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2014, 12:58:45 PM »
We had a lady like this in our church- loved to shake hands and hug everyone.  I know it's a matter of personal preference and comfortableness(?), but I'm with the camp of shake hands and move on.  Unfortunately for me and everyone in our church, she passed away a few weeks ago.  I still miss her hugs and good humor every day.

I remember when my daughter was a newborn, I was sitting with her and DS in the back pew.  One of the members was there with her disabled son (I'm not sure what his disability is-he's not down syndrome, but you can tell he's disabled).   He kept looking back at us, and it was making me very nervous because he looked like he was angry.  After the service he reached back and gently patted my DD's tiny cheek.  It turns out that is just how he looks, and he is a very kind and gentle soul.  I always make sure I say hello and pat him on the shoulder when I see him.
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scansons

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2014, 01:26:30 PM »
I think this really is one of those cases where you just ask yourself "What would Jesus do?"  And I think you know the answer to that.

I always dislike this question.  After all Jesus is God, and I feel safe in saying MissRose is not God.  Therefore to expect her to deal with this situation in the way that God would is...well... expecting more than she can deliver.  Perhaps Jesus would have healed the young man on the spot.  Shall we expect MissRose to do that too? 

I understand your discomfort MissRose. Communion is a serious time. It is after all worship.  Could you have sat down with him while his mother was up at the rail?  I'm not Catholic, but I have Catholic friends.  I've been the one sitting in the pew while everyone else partakes.  It's kind of lonely and dull.  Also embarrassing if you don't understand why you aren't allowed up there.  He was probably just board.  A little company could have gone a long way, and you can always just get up and get back in line when his mother gets back. 

If I was going to address this with someone, I'd find someone closer to the family than I was, and ask the better question which is "does his mom need help?"  You could get some information that you are comfortable acting on, or you may know someone who is able to help.  Either way, you're likely to come away with a better answer for everyone. 

exitzero

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2014, 01:59:22 PM »
Personally, I'd shake his hand. And be grateful for the opportunity to do so. Connection with another human being who is need is a holy act.

Fleur

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2014, 02:06:29 PM »

I think that people are being very harsh on the OP. Nowhere does she say she is unwilling to shake his hand: she just doesn't want to do it at the communion rail. Why are his needs more important than hers? OP, I might or might not say something to his mother-I seem to be in the minority here, but I don't see why this boy's behaviour needs to be accomodated to the extent where he is preventing others from concentrating. I also went to a church where there were many children and a few disabled people. Everyone behaved appropriately.

DavidH

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2014, 02:33:15 PM »
When it is actually happening, the least disruptive course of action is probably to shake his hand, although I realize that doesn't solve the bigger issue.  Approaching his mother after the Mass to say that you recognize that her son means well, but it is disruptive to you when he tries to shake your hand while you are in line for communion.  Does she have any suggestions as to what you could do that wouldn't hurt his feelings, but also not be disruptive to you.  If you are careful to convey that you are trying to find a solution and not criticizing her son, it may help.  I also liked the suggestion of asking the priest what to do, since he should be able to offer ideas that are compatible with this particular situation.     

NyaChan

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2014, 02:37:45 PM »
OP,  I think as far as etiquette is concerned, you would have been fine to pause for a moment to let the kid know you were busy in a generally pleasant tone as your physical cues were not getting your point across. 

As far as the religious or spiritual aspect of it, well if the OP wants advice on what her faith would recommend, I think she should ask her religious advisors.  I don't think it is appropriate for us to address it from that angle on an etiquette site. 

MissRose

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2014, 03:25:04 PM »
OP,  I think as far as etiquette is concerned, you would have been fine to pause for a moment to let the kid know you were busy in a generally pleasant tone as your physical cues were not getting your point across. 

As far as the religious or spiritual aspect of it, well if the OP wants advice on what her faith would recommend, I think she should ask her religious advisors.  I don't think it is appropriate for us to address it from that angle on an etiquette site.

I asked the same question on a forum dedicated to my faith, and many of them had issues with the way I handled things and what I should do.  Many of them said I should have shaken the child's hand but this child likes to do so for a long time.  It would have held up the line for Communion and been rude to those behind me.  Some even went as far to find past posts where I had questions and/or issues about children at Mass to imply I have an issue with children there when in reality I don't. It is often the actions of the parents not the youngsters I have problems with as the adults nearby can try to ensure some level of good behavior & participation.  I've been to a variety of Masses where you would never know there were many toddlers and infants because a parent would take them out when they got fussy then returned, the same also applied for those children with various disabilities (visible or invisible).

For further clarification, I arrived at this particular Mass right at the start as I was attending a church committee meeting that was held between the 2 Sunday Masses and was not able to attend the earlier one due to attending a charity breakfast, not able to go Saturday evening as normal as I was snowed in, then I could not find a seat in the section of the church I prefer so I had to take a seat in the back to avoid being rude to others during the opening procession.


GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2014, 03:45:53 PM »
I asked the same question on a forum dedicated to my faith, and many of them had issues with the way I handled things and what I should do.  Many of them said I should have shaken the child's hand but this child likes to do so for a long time.  It would have held up the line for Communion and been rude to those behind me.

I don't understand why you feel you can't speak to the boy in question directly. At the time it is happening a quick "I'm praying right now, we can shake hands later" would've been perfectly fine and he would have been able to understand what was happening. Just because he has a disability doesn't make him incapable of understanding an adult. You said he was a teenager, not a small child, talk to him like you would any other teenager. His mother left him alone for a moment, which to me says he's fairly high functioning and would be able to understand if you just spoke to him. There's no need to ignore him and hope he goes away. If you shaken his hand, just say "Ok, it's time for me to go now" and let go of his hand. Yes, you're going to have to do a bit more work to verbalize what is happening and what is going to happen again, as he isn't able to pick up on social cues.

There is no special language for people with mental disabilities. Speak to them as you would like to be spoken too. As you would speak to any other person. If they don't understand, slow down, explain in simpler terms. Most of the young people with disabilities I've gotten to know have no problem understanding me, they'll tell to speak slower but then so do people without disabilities. Or ask for clarification, but again, so do non-disabled people.

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I've been to a variety of Masses where you would never know there were many toddlers and infants because a parent would take them out when they got fussy then returned, the same also applied for those children with various disabilities (visible or invisible).

A young adult with down syndrome and a fussy toddler are not the same thing. Yes, if he was becoming overstimulated, whoever is with him should step out with him to help him calm down. But just trying to shake hands because he was confused about what was happening is not the same at all. Others indulged him and he didn't understand why you didn't. Communicating, with words, would've helped you and him a lot.

Dorrie78

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2014, 03:59:23 PM »

I think that people are being very harsh on the OP. Nowhere does she say she is unwilling to shake his hand: she just doesn't want to do it at the communion rail. Why are his needs more important than hers? OP, I might or might not say something to his mother-I seem to be in the minority here, but I don't see why this boy's behaviour needs to be accomodated to the extent where he is preventing others from concentrating. I also went to a church where there were many children and a few disabled people. Everyone behaved appropriately.
Thank you for saying this - I've been trying to construct a post that makes this point but trying not to sound mean and heartless! It is not the responsibility of the OP to fix this issue or entertain a bored kid during Mass. The OP is trying to prepare for a holy ritual and wants to do this in quiet reflection and prayer, rather than interacting with others. I think she needs to speak with the parents and let them know that she does not want to be interrupted while she is in her quiet reflection.

alis

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2014, 04:00:31 PM »
I have to admit I am not familiar with communion but I have a disabled son (autism, not downs) who struggles greatly with social skills.

We moms of children disabilities are very used to the idea that people do not know how to react around our children and generally quite happy to explain and assist those who would like to know/understand. I recommend speaking to his mother next time you see her and address your concerns, it is perfectly okay. I wish more often people would approach me, rather than feel uncomfortable.

Although it makes me smile when people don't mind, I do understand that this invasiveness can be a bother and that is okay to feel that way.

eee

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Re: Child with a mental disabilty at Mass - question
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2014, 04:03:41 PM »

I don't understand why you feel you can't speak to the boy in question directly. At the time it is happening a quick "I'm praying right now, we can shake hands later" would've been perfectly fine and he would have been able to understand what was happening. Just because he has a disability doesn't make him incapable of understanding an adult. You said he was a teenager, not a small child, talk to him like you would any other teenager.


I'm guessing that the OP wasn't comfortable speaking out loud during a time when others were engaged in a quiet moment of prayer, so tried to use non-verbal communication instead.