I’ve been thinking about Mormons and disability quite a bit this week, as a new friend tearfully shared his own experience as the parent of a disabled son, and then, on Sunday, when at General Conference LDS Church leaders spoke quite comfortingly to families of people with disabilities. And lo and behold, this week’s query comes from a recent convert who lives in Holland:
We have a son of 9 years who has severe autism, but has beautiful blessings. You should hear him pray: often he gives feelings about others in his prayers where even we, adults/partents, didn’t think of. On the other hand, sometimes he hardly can understand why something is wrong.
The question I have is “should we baptise him?” I know what doctrine dictates: it is a matter between parents, child and local priesthood. My son answered, “Yes,” when I asked two days ago if he wanted to be baptised. My [home teachers] also said “go ahead,” but I’m still doubting.
I’m seeking peer counseling: do you know about other parents of kids with ASS? What did they do?
Met vriendelijke groeten,
I’ve put your question out to friends who have relatives with autism. I’m going to tell you a few things I’ve gathered from them, but I hope lots of readers will chime in and add their wisdom in the comments below. The collective wisdom of AMG readers exceeds that of AMG herself.
Not surprisingly, families with kids on the Autism-Asperger’s Spectrum report that church is often an ordeal, for so many reasons: the size, the noise, the three hour block. Approaches to baptism run the gamut. Some have baptized at eight; some have waited until an age beyond eight; some are still waiting—it all depends on the child.
I’ve just finished reading the British religion scholar Karen Armstrong’s book The Spiral Staircase, in which she describes (in a few chapters) her experience bringing an autistic young man to be baptized into the Catholic faith. And I will offer one humble thought before I get out of the way and let others more knowledgeable speak to you. If your child has expressed that he wants to be baptized, I’m thinking about Mosiah 18: 8 – 10, “As you are desirous to come into the fold of God . . . If this be the desire of your hearts, what have ye against being baptized?”
Readers, what do you think? What support can you offer DG?
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