“Let’s go guys. It’s time for Church School.” I yell up the stairs as I stuff my binder for into my bag.
“Noooo…I dunt wan go!” Ryan yells out from his room.
Jenna skips out of her room down the hall with a big smile. She has always liked going to Church. I am often amazed at how good she is—good to her core.
“Okay mommy, I’m ready for church.” She smiles at me and I smile back briefly.
“Okay, go wait by the car we will be there soon.” I turn back to the stairs and try again. “Please Ryan, it’s time to go. I have your m’s…” Silence. “If you are good, we will go to McDonalds after church school.” I say in my best encouraging voice.
“Noooo!” He yells again. I sigh and try to think of another tactic.
‘Church school’ is a simple name we created for Ryan rather than calling it CCD: letters that don’t really mean anything. I had to look it up when Dan couldn’t remember what it stood for: Catholic Catechist Discernment. Which is just a fancy way of saying: learning about being a catholic and then deciding to be one.
I check my bag of tricks to make sure it’s all ready. I have made a portable schedule and taken pictures of every part of the church, and the teacher. I have m & m’s, oreos, a train, a ball, and a slinky. I have been trying to modify the typical first year catholic program for him. It’s not been easy trying to make it systematic and fun at the same time. All the activities involve things he could care less about, coloring, cutting, gluing and then there’s the God thing. Explaining God to an autistic kid is tough, heck explaining to an adult is just as hard.
We started the year okay, but have gotten progressively worse. He now realizes there is no actual gain for him. Autistic children are very driven by what makes them happy, and this doesn’t make him happy, therefore he doesn’t want any part of it. The picture schedule doesn’t help as much as it should, my bribes no longer work, and earning stickers for candy isn’t working either. I dread Wednesday’s now because I know how draining it is. I end up chasing him almost the whole class and by the end of the hour and half…one of us is screaming or crying, or both.
This is an area I don’t want Dr. Hunter’s group to help with. I have some sense of pride that I can do this. I took the class to be a CCD teacher and I’m going to do it. But, I realize more and more I’m not really a teacher. The other kids are great and I try to help “teach” the class, but Ryan is what takes all my attention. I feel bad for Amy, the real teacher. She is actually a teacher by trade so this comes second hand to her. I think she thought she was going to get some help with me this year. Boy did she place her bets wrong.
I spend so much time explaining to 8 year-olds things about Ryan they don’t really care to know but I think helps.
“He likes to hide under tables, isn’t he silly?” I say in a funny voice to one of the girls who is kneeling down looking at Ryan with a puzzled look on her face.