23 May 2008

On Adam Race

The following is a press release from Carol Race. I found it in the "comments" section of the Autism Vox blog. It pertains to Adam Race, a young autistic man that has been forbidden by court order to attend mass at a Catholic church. I have XXXX-ed her telephone numbers out in the interests of privacy, but otherwise the document is unaltered save for some (enter) keys for a "cleaner" look.


This is a press release from Carol Race.
————————–

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2008 Contact: Carol Race 218-XXX-XXXX

Mother of boy with autism barred from masscorrects statements from priest & Diocese
The Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s May 17 cover story featured Carol Race and family of Eagle Bend, Minnesota, with a 4-column headline reading “Church bars severely autistic boy from mass.” On May 9 the Races’ parish priest had taken out a restraining order against 13-year-old Adam, who has autism. This past Thursday Carol Race was issued a citation because she attended Mother’s Day mass with him.

Subsequent articles on the Races in newspapers, TV and radio also ran statements from the Diocese of St. Cloud on behalf of the Church of St. Joseph in Bertha. Race disagrees with Fr. Dan Walz’s second-hand descriptions, and wrote a counter statement explaining her son’s behaviors in the context of autism.

· The language in the restraining order reflects the view of a person who does not understand the symptoms of autism. Adam may be large and sometimes physical but he is not angry and violent, and does not spit in church. He exhibits characteristic traits common in people with autism, such as self-injurious behavior and meltdowns when facing sensory overload or when feeling overwhelmed.

· Fr. Walz used leading language, such as saying Adam has “urinated in church.” However my son did not publicly expose himself, as the term “urinate” implies. Adam has incontinence issues on rare occasion, and these have been thoroughly cleaned by the family. Young children also have accidents. No one knows how many seniors have “urinated in church” – all who do deserve privacy and dignity.

· Most of the time Adam can walk through a crowd of people in a patient and gentle way. And because our family leaves the church service early, there should not be anyone during these times to “bolt through.” At times Fr. Walz has refused requests to help our son get safely through the aisles.

· Fr. Walz unfairly describes Adam’s autistic behaviors as “disruptive.” Yet other children often cry or act out during mass for long periods of time. Visually, unless you sit in the back there is no disruption.

· Fr. Walz refers to Adam’s self-injurious behavior as “dangerous,” saying he “strikes himself in the head violently.” That shows no understanding, and offers no aid. Adam harms no one else physically.

· When people with autism feel stressed, they may like the sensation of weight or deep pressure to calm themselves. Therapists use weighted blankets and vests. Temple Grandin, PhD, who also has autism, designed a gentle squeeze machines for this purpose. Sitting on Adam’s lap or even his chest carefully on occasion gives him comfort during trying times, and also works to help restrain him during those times that he is melting down or feeling overwhelmed.

· Sometimes my husband and I need to restrict Adam’s movements to prevent him from hurting himself or his family who sit near him. Other families and school personnel are trained in safe restraint practices. My husband and I place a fleece strip (not rope) around either our son’s wrists or ankles. During these times he is not a danger to those seated around us. If we feel he may be momentarily out of control, we would ask those people to step aside for a few moments, but that would be rare.

· I do not recall any episode that could be described as such: “[V]ery recently he [Adam] bolted out and had to be tackled by his family. He battered his father as he was being restrained.” In fact, over the past two months, Adam has made almost no noises during church, he has been actually standing, sitting, and kneeling with the congregation. Adam has been attempting to make the sign of the cross, hold hands at the Our Father, offer the sign of peace with those around him, and generally participate like most other people at Mass who do not make the verbal responses.

· Regarding concerns about our foreign exchange daughter: Julia had been living in our home for six months. She accepted Adam and understood his ways. Fr. Walz misinterpreted the incident he described. Julia was standing near Adam because she preferred to be by him. In an attempt to socialize, or perhaps because she weighed just the right amount, Adam took her by the waist and showed her that he would like her to sit on his lap. She did so willingly, and with a smile on her face. It was an act of kindness on her part. I watched the situation very closely, as did my husband. There was nothing inappropriate about the way he touched her. He never grabbed her buttocks nor her thighs. Consequently we were very shocked to see that false statement in the restraining order. When Fr. Walz reported his version to the County, the report was ignored. The foreign exchange agency, ASA, has a policy of removing any student whenever there is an allegation of sexual abuse, regardless of whether or not it is substantiated. So Julia was removed against her will, against the local ASA rep’s will, and against her family’s wishes in Poland. Fr. Walz’s actions were scandalous to her faith, as well as to my children who loved their ASA sister dearly. I spoke with Rose Hawkins of ASA International, who is willing to answer any questions about Julia. Her phone is 320-XXX-XXXX.

· From mid-June 2007 to present no special accommodations for Adam have been offered to our family, except to watch mass on the basement TV for an indefinite time. Adam has attended mass with the congregation all his life. Changing the routine of someone with autism is not only painful for them, but takes time and effort and in this particular situation would likely result in worse behavior problems.

· The priest, Fr. Dan Walz, refused to discuss our family’s situation with anyone trained in autism, including a behavioral consultant hired by the parents specifically to help with accommodations for mass. This well-known and experienced behavioral consultant wrote a three-page report with many suggestions; however it was ignored. Fr. Walz also refused to speak with a county social worker who tried to help the parish find reasonable accommodations for Adam’s continued inclusion.

· The worst of Adam’s behaviors resulted from lack of accommodations or cooperative discussions. Case in point: The car-revving incident. Normally our family left Church before the closing song, which would allowed three minutes before the congregation left. During Lent, Fr. Walz omitted the closing song and failed to ask the congregation to wait to leave until our family had left first.

· Fr. Walz refused mediation through a local Protestant minister. He refused it unless his only option – Adam not attending Mass – was on the table. I believe that over the past 11 months Fr. Walz lobbied both parish and diocese to approve his plan to bar Adam from Mass. A March 3, 2008 letter through the diocesan Tribunal office stated: “For mediation to take place, however, all things must be on the table to be discussed. This means that the issue of taking Adam out of Mass must remain open.”

· Fr. Walz’s goal is clear: “I have made repeated efforts through the Catholic Education Ministries, Caritas Family Services and, most recently, sought to try and mediate the matter with the family TO ASK THEM TO VOLUNTARILY NOT BRING ADAM TO CHURCH, but to no avail (emphasis mine). He admits he made no attempts to accommodate for the purposes of inclusion during this process.

· Fr. Dan claims to have contacted the parish insurer. However I have never seen an actual letter from the insurer nor have the two parish trustees been presented with a copy. Fr. Dan claims it was attached to the RO, however I asked at the court house for it, and they said they don’t have it, either.

· Canon Law which Fr. Dan quotes has to be interpreted in light of Church doctrine. Church doctrine does not exclude any individual from participation in mass except those who have been “excommunicated” after proper canonical procedure has been followed.

· Neither the bishop nor the Vicar General have attempted to discuss Adam’s behaviors with the Races; they are relying solely on statements made by Fr. Walz.

“It is shocking that with Adam’s sustained and dramatically improved behavior that the restraining order would come at this time,” Race concluded. She hopes that increased public awareness will lead to improved understanding of people with autism, social justice, and maximized spiritual inclusion.

7 comments:

  1. This is utterly disgusting. I am so sorry this family has had to go through this. So much for the Christian ethos of inclusion! What a disgrace. If anyone should be banned from the services, it is the 'good' Father himself! It's totally unacceptable that this horrid little man is able to abuse Adam's human rights in this manner. The family should take this all the way up to the Pope. God Himself would be crying over this- I'm certain it's not how He views His church.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi! I'm a homeschooling Mom too! Glad I stumbled on your blog. This situation with Adam is such a sad sad sad thing. Thanks for posting even more information on it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do want to say that the information in the blog about Adam is completely one-sided. I know for a fact that the church has offered different choices of how to deal with Adam in mass. They have offered the crying room exclusively to them, they have offered private masses, and yet the mother has refused all of these. It upsets me that a kid has to go through this, but it also upsets me that a mother would put her kid through this. Sitting or restraining Adam in mass is a form of calming him down which means he is under stress. I'm sure the options offered would actually put Adam under less stress due to less people.
    This isn't just about Adam it is about the overall safety. Father Walz was very smart in beinging up this issue. Even if Adam didn't mean to, what if he did rev up an engine and drive and hit someone. then who is at fault? The church isn't against autism and idn't against Adam. They are against the behavior that has been displayed in mass. Even children without Autism still need to be carried out of church if there are acting up to the point where people are distracted. I have seen that many times. This is a very difficult and uncomfortable situation to have but we must all do what's best. Mediation and the church should happen, and the media should back off. If this was just about Adam, his mother would not have gotten the media involved. That was irresponsible.
    I have worked with kids in the past that have had Autism, and I know that this is going too far.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mrs. Race is a very overbearing, arrogant, obstinate, and headstrong. I have a friend in the Twin Cities, where the Race's lived. This friend is still afraid of Carol. This mother pushed the limits so far as to have a restraining order placed on her. Then when she disobeyed the restraining order a citation was issued, and carried out by an officer of the law in her driveway to stop her from going to Bertha for mass. The car revving incident, was a result from lack of accommodation - This lady is in denial. The priest can run his mass any way he sees fit. He cut a few songs from the mass, so it is his fault that Adam got into a car and revved the engine. Oh my gosh. She is blaming the priest.
    Can a person do that, blame the leader of a Catholic church?
    Father Walz was left no choice but to treat this family with tough love and not give an inch. If he gave Carol an inch, she'd take a mile. She is very unstable. How do you deal with a person as obstinate as Carol Race? Ignore her!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm inclined to be more on the Races' side of the issue simply because I myself have been in too many places where simple accomodation steps haven't been implemented and (more importantly!), the love of Christ is not manifested.

    But at no time would I call Father Walz "unstable" or "overbearing, headstrong and obstinate" without a bit more information. When and if I ever were to do so, I wouldn't do so anonymously. I'd at least use my blog pseudonym. Those are pretty serious names to call someone without using your name or police report to back yourself up, anonymous.

    Interesting that you also typed a good, long paragraph all about how bad she is and then advised me to ignore her.

    Like I said, I don't know the Race family personally. But I do know that I give little credence to anonymous derogatory remarks about a person on my blog. It's entirely possible that absolutely everything you relate is true... but like I said, I'm disinclined to believe it because of the anonymous and belittling nature of your remarks.

    PS I think the car revving thing isn't anybody's fault but the idiot who left the keys in the ignition and walked away.

    ReplyDelete
  6. She is very unstable. She - Carol. Carol is overbearing, arrogant, obstinate and headstrong. Not the priest. I do not know the priest. I do know my friends attended Carol's religion classes, a long time ago. And she is afraid of Carol. I went to two of those classes and I can see my friends point of view. If a restraining order was filed on you - would you disobey it? To the point of the sheriff in your driveway enforcing a citation. I am a mother. I would not do that to my family. Possibly go to jail. This is what I mean about Carol being pushy. So pushy that the priest could not control her, so the sheriff had to. People like that get no sympathy from me. I agree with my friend, and I remember being in that religion class for two sessions. Carol is a very different person. I am just stating the truth here. How would you deal with a person like Carol Race? Would you be afraid of her knowledge of the Bible and be able to "hold" you own? My friend wasn't and is afraid of Mrs. Race.

    ReplyDelete
  7. my experience is that a large number of cases are resolved in mediation,with most of those being resolved in the first mediation session.Mediation is an excellent tool that should be used in family law cases regardless of the county of practice.


    family mediation & Cost family mediation

    ReplyDelete

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)