Sunday, May 25, 2008

Church Files Restraining Order Against Autistic Parishioner

Minnesota church is coming under fire for the way it's treating one of its parishioners. Adam Race, 13, and his family did not go to mass at Bertha's Church of St. Joseph Sunday morning like they usually do. The Todd County Sheriff told Adam's mom if she did take him to St. Joseph's, she would be arrested.

St. Joseph's has filed a temporary restraining order against Adam. In a statement, Father Dan Walz said he filed the petition as a last resort out of "a growing concern for the safety of parishioners". Adam is severely autistic. He is home-schooled, and has attended St. Joseph's his whole life. He is also more than six feet tall and weighs more than 235 pounds. In court documents, Father Walz said Adam's growing size makes it harder for his parents to manage his behavior during mass. Father Walz said Adam struck a child, bolts unexpectedly from church nearly knocking people down, including elderly people. He said Adam also spits and urinates during church.

Carol Races said those allegations are either exaggerated or false. She said Adam is not angry or violent, he has never spit in church, and that on rare occasions, he has been incontinent. Carol blames Adam's worst behavior, revving a church member's running car after mass, on a lack of accommodation from the church. "They don't understand how the mechanisms of autism are working at the moment of these disruptions and so forth," Carol Race said. "And I want to point out that in the last couple of months Adam has been perfectly well-behaved. So that's what's shocking to me." Carol said sometimes Adam is noisy and must be restrained during mass, but she said her family always sits in back and leaves church a few minutes early.

A hearing was set on May 19th in Todd County Court. Anyone having further information on this case please contact me. (Link)

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