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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life on the Fringe of Faith

I dedicate this blog entry to "Nanan" who is doing her job as "Da Godmutha".


San Roque Church
I have written before about our journey of faith with Finbar and the trials and tribulations that we have faced trying to find a church community that could, or rather would, accomodate a child that could not sit still or be quiet for 20 seconds.  This issue has marked my life so much at this point that I have resolved to form a foundation some day with the specific mission to support churches in including special needs children into their programs.  Sure, sometimes they try. But the road to, well you know, that "H" place, etc, etc. 

As previously written, I have been a bit PO'd with the Catholic church since Finbar's diagnosis.   Along the spectrum of church bodies, the Catholic church is the most rigid in my experience, in terms of its adherance to a strict way of practicing faith, and its incapacity to accomodate anything that does not fall within its very tight norm.  While I have found that many non-denominational and Protestant churches offer extensive children's programs and a wealth of fresh minded volunteers, few of the Catholic churches in town offer childcare during Mass.   Moreover, I have not heard of any that assist with helping special needs children attend services and make the sacraments.  Finally, most of the people serving in the Catholic church tend to be quite elderly.  While big hearted, they are not exactly equipped to deal with a special needs child in "Little Church".

So why do I write about this again?  Well, much to my surprise, something, actually TWO things,  I never deemed possible a year ago happened today on this "25th Sunday in Ordinary Time" (can anyone explain to me what this means exactly?).

Firstly, Finbar sat through much of a Catholic service and held it together without completely embarrassing us. And to boot, he even seemed to enjoy it, and dare I say, seemed pleased with himself that he was in "real church". 

Secondly, after this 1 hour service, he proceeded to attend First Communion class for another hour or more and did so without a single complaint or argument.

Hallelujah.  Miracles do happen. Long live the Pope :)

And now I must go to confession...

PS: Finbar and I made the made the front cover of the church bulletin this week.   Did I mention that miracles happen?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Will You Be My Friend?

About a year ago, I wrote a post entitled "I Live with Dory"  about the shortcomings of Finbar's short term memory and the ensuing insanity it drives me to.  Back then, I was living the life of Marlin from Finding Nemo, on his epic voyage with Dory who could remember nothing from minute to minute.  And I would tell myself to just keep swimming.  Over the last year, Finbar's short term memory lapses receded quite a bit, no doubt because of the Brain Integration Therapy he has been receiving.  Nevertheless, with all this improvement, I recently had a brief  "Dory" experience with him and it uncovered a long time nagging question of mine.  Why do children with autism have such poor short term memories?  In that Dory post, I also alluded to the fact that research has shown that there may be a link between Autism and Alzheimers - scary thought I know, to look at your 6 yr old as a mini-Alzheimer's patient. But that is how it feels sometimes.

Case in point (after a BBQ at our home with friends last night):

F:  (excitedly) "Hey Mom, Hey Mom?"
Me:  "Yes Finney?" 
F:  "Um, can we invite THAT girl over for a playdate tomorrow?"
Me:  "WHAT girl Finney?

I glance at Reese tromping down the steps from the upper patio in our yard where we had been eating, on her way out to go home, figuring he is referring to her. Knowing that he has been playing with this girl all evening and the evening before, and therfore should know her name, I endeavor as always to drive home a point.

Me:   (somewhat annoyingly) "You mean the girl in the yellow shirt?" Still not giving it away.
F:    "Yes, yes, THAT girl!  Can we have HER over for a playdate? Can we? I want her to be my friend."
Me:    "You mean REESE?", I say in a kind of "duh" reply, trying to make him realise that knowing people's names, particularly people that you have been hanging out with for four hours, is EXPECTED.  I instantaneously imagine him at a job interview when he is 25 having forgotten which job he is applying for and for what company, brush that nightmare thought aside, and momentarily take note that he chronically does not seem to care about learning a person's name.  Or, is it rather that his memory does not allow him to remember? Ah, the million dollar question.   Many people have the oft bad habit of  "being horrible with names" (yours truly included).  Which is it? Blatant social carelessness on his part? Or some brain malfunction?   Or, as many have dubbed autism to be - Alzheimers for kids?   I may never know, so I move on to the positive - OMG he is asking for a playdate with a new friend! OMG, OMG, OMG. 

Me:  "Well, yes! Why don't you go ask her if she'd like to come over sometime or ask her mom if it's OK?" (and please don't blow it)
F:  "But what if she doesn't want to be my friend?" 
Me:  (at a loss for an answer to that) "Well, go ask her to be your friend and invite her over (oooh could be awkward).  Hurry before she leaves!" (God, please let her want to be his friend)  

I lose track of him for a few minutes and then see him with Reese, who hasn't left yet.

Me:  "Hey Finbar, didn't you want to ask Reese something? Hey Reese, Finbar wanted to..."
F:  "I ALREADY DID mom and I asked her if she would be my friend (ooooh awkward) and she said yes and that she wanted to come over for a playdate..."
Me:  (cutting him off)  "Great! Reese, do you want to..."
Reese's mom:  "Hey Finbar, do you think that you would like to come over to OUR house one day to play?"
Me: (OMG, he is being invited by another mom for a playdate - A first!)
Finbar:  (doublechecking)  "Reese, you are my friend now, right?"
Reese: (shrugs her shoulders without glancing back at him)  "Uh, yeah, I guess so." (She runs off)

This Dory thing is socially awkward but who cares it is working out! We are on our way to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney :)