If you have been following my posts this week, you will see that I have tried to openly & honestly talk about how attending church is difficult for our son regarding his special needs. You may also realize that TWO things are happening......
1. Our current church attending dilemma
2. Our overall recurring issue regarding attending church....and it's effects on our family
Today, let's talk about the first thing....
Our most recent battle has been Ethan crying every Saturday night....saying emphatically that he did NOT want to go to church. It just didn't seem like the typical I don't want to go to church....it seemed like there was more going on. But as a person with autism, communicating what upsets him is very difficult. This makes it challenging for us as his parents to problem solve or discern if the issue is something that is actually harmful to him (loud noise, being bullied, etc) or if it is just a hardship that he can overcome.
Well, praise the Lord....one Saturday night during this weekly hysterical episode, he mentioned the word MUSIC. Our first clue! That led to a barrage of questions from us.....
Do you like music at church? Yes or no?
What do you not like about music? The noise, the kids, the heat or something else?
Do you wear your headphones? Yes or no?
(Notice that we give him options for answers? We have found that this helps Ethan when talking with him. He answers faster & seems to be able to communicate verbally longer.)
After this discussion, a Facebook discussion, and talking with our Early Childhood Director, we came up with a plan. Ethan, along with another little girl who has difficulties in the music room, would stay back with a volunteer while the rest of the class was at music. This past Saturday night, when Ethan started crying about church the next day, I told him the new plan. His eyes lit up, he rapidly clapped his hands together, and said, "Oh goodie, goodie, goodie! That makes me not sad anymore!"
This showed me that it indeed WAS the music. So, this past Sunday, Corey & Ethan went to church (I woke up with a migraine...2nd one this month....ugh.) Apparently, I hadn't told Corey the new plan because I was getting rapid texts from him telling me all about the plan in place. Oops.
You will NEVER guess what happened at church. Ethan stayed back with the volunteer & did puzzles (the other student wasn't there). After a puzzle, Ethan told the volunteer that he was ready to go to music with his class.
They said he came in, without headphones, and the kids were singing the B-I-B-L-E song. If you don't know it....it's a loud one and the kids scream the word "Bible" at the end. They told us that Ethan started to get scared, made eye contact with his teacher, she mimed putting her hands over her ears, and he followed suit. No crying, no anxiety.....nothing. He stayed with his class the rest of the morning.
When we talked about this at home, Ethan said that he "wanted to be with his class." So maybe he learned a lesson.....he doesn't like being without his peers. I love this for so many reasons.....
1. This is super social of him!
2. We now know that he is willing to endure uncomfortable moments just to be with his peers. (That could be a bad thing but it's good to know this about Ethan.)
3. He may like having the OPTION to not go & can make a decision on his own. That's a sign of problem solving as well as independence. Excellent skills for him when he's older.
The Director said that they will just plan on continuing this set up for the future....just in case. So, we will see what happens this Sunday. Crazy kid! :0)
NOW....the other overall issue. Basically.....is this still the church for us or would Ethan benefit from a smaller church or one that has a better established special needs ministry in place. This has been weighing heavily on my heart. Even if this music issue is solved, Ethan still doesn't attend many of the special activities like VBS. But I feel that this post has been lengthy already, so I will save those ramblings for tomorrow. Right now, let's just be excited that Ethan went to music & no meltdown!!!!