When Sundays aren't restful: A special-needs parent's tale

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Jan. 26, 2014 4:01 p.m.

    My wife and I don't have children yet, but if we do, and they have special needs, I imagine that we will face difficulties quite similar to what this person faces. As it stands, Sundays have been among the busiest days of the week for me since I joined the Church. It is the day to rest from one's worldly labors, sure. But it is the day on which an entire week's worth of spiritual labors on the Lord's behalf needs to get done. Saturday is the only real day of rest that I have, and there are still chores/shopping to be done, or travel for work, or something else that prevents a nice, relaxing day at home. Still, it only gets more difficult going forward, so I had best enjoy it while I can.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    Jan. 25, 2014 6:25 p.m.

    Really like the idea of wards calling "special helpers" to assist these families with special needs children or teens. As the sibling of a now adult sister with special needs, I look back and remember our Sacrament Meetings being just like what the author is talking about! My sister with her developmental disorder was stubborn, loud and embarrassing weekly. Just getting ready for church was an ordeal! One of my parents was constantly taking her out of the meetings. Still to this day people in her ward make comments to me about her strange behavior or something she did! Please be aware that the brothers and sisters also have no control over the special needs child or adult! The brothers and sisters of special needs adults have a great burden as we will be in their lives longer than the parents. We become invisible because so much attention is on the special needs child. I'm intrigued by the 'special helpers' and think it could help the entire family.

  • mathmom Vancouver, WA
    Jan. 25, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    I had a couple of boys with special needs that made going to church really difficult. Now, that they are adults and on their own, I am able to give back and help other families with special needs. I am amazed at what a little effort it takes to help the child so the parents can serve in callings or attend their meetings. For me, as a teacher, it has been a profound spiritual experience to teach these special little ones. The best part, though, has been watching the other Primary children as they lovingly and patiently help out, often without having to be asked. Brings tears of joy to my eyes every time!

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Jan. 25, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    We were always taught by my parents how special and sacred Sacrament meeting was and to always attend church each week. I am passing that on to my children -- in addition to our two daughters, we have 3 foster sons we are in line to adopt . . . . and the challenges begin. Because of neglect from their past reverence isn't in their vocabulary. It would be so easy just to stay home -- because it is hard to get anything out of the talks --- but it is the journey and the continued effort that brings the blessings.

    It is tempting to look at church as a polished event that only the most elite and polished may attend -- but its not a museum, it is a living and breathing mechanism that brings us closer to God; not by being accomplished, but by simply trying again and again and again. Those who have the added challenge of 'special needs' family members provide us all with a chance to become more Christlike.

  • ocd4life Tucson, AZ
    Jan. 24, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    God Bless the families that are helping, they truly know their purpose. Having an autistic son of our own and working with children of special needs, the families do struggle. While teaching a primary class, I too, was faced with a child that could not sit still and crawled under the chairs. The other children knew he was different and they let me know right away that this was his character. We incorporated that energy into the lessons. He lead prayer with the help of the class as well as closing prayer. I challenge every church family everywhere the next time you see a family struggling with a developmentally challenged child, instead of reacting judgmentally lend a hand. Sit with the other children so Mom or Dad can get up and walk with the child in the lobby. Or decompress in the car for a few. After all isn't that what Christ has modeled for us, compassion.

  • archemeedees Tooele, UT
    Jan. 24, 2014 4:43 p.m.

    In fairness, Sundays are not supposed to be a day of rest from everything, but from temporal labors.

  • Chieftess Ivins, UT
    Jan. 24, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    I am glad that the church is encouraging more inclusion and understanding about how to help members with special needs. Some people are still judgmental here and there, but of course people aren't going to be perfect. I am divorced, have four sons, two with special needs and I have an "invisible" muscle disorder. I tried using a large stroller, but he opposed it noisily the whole time. I often sit in the van with him with his music playing and his toys and snacks and read the lessons to myself. But I don't give up. I need to worship, study, and pray each Sunday preferably with fellow disciples, but alone if necessary and he needs to learn to sit through a meeting for his caregiver's sake. It took five years to learn to sit through Sacrament meeting. Now we are working on sitting through sharing time. Loving him has taught me all kinds of virtues, like patience and tolerance and respect. He amazes me. Everyone should get to know someone with special needs. The experience will leave them a better person.

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Jan. 24, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    My heart goes out to these families. For a long time either my wife or I had to be home with a child. We could never go anywhere together. Our friend had two sons with health issues and both died as teenagers. Sundays can be hard indeed.

  • MegTaylor DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 24, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    For special-needs families in wards large enough to accomodate, it can be helpful to ask
    the bishop to call someone as a special helper to your special-needs child. Often the bishop or auxiliary leader might be unaware that one is needed. Working with that perskn to know what your child needs and how best to respond to and assist them can help them fulfill their calling and allow you some time on Sunday to rest and replenish yourself. So many stories in the Ensign attest to the spiritual blessings that come from this kind of service.

  • Chuck Onsum Madison, WI
    Jan. 24, 2014 7:39 a.m.

    How well I know the feeling. My wife and I raised 2 special needs grandchildren, 1 which suffered traumatic brain injury a 2 months of age and the other with a whole myriad of problems including 6 to 8 wks preemie, low birth weight (5lbs 3ozs), and a stroke before she was born to name a few. To the day it is still almost impossible to go anywhere. One is in a group home and the other is still at home. My wife visits the one (age 23)in a group home 4 days a week, while I watch the other(age 21). Church has proven impossible. I am a member, but my wife is not.

  • SarahIam North Salt Lake, UT
    Jan. 24, 2014 12:00 a.m.

    So perfectly written. I am a mom to a 5 year old with autism and every word of this is true. Thank you so much for speaking for all of us exhausted moms!!!

  • Scott H Ogden, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    I once had a severely disabled student in my Primary class. Christoper could be marvelous and awe inspiring at times, but he could also be quite a handful. It was a difficult situation for me, since I had no training in handling Christopher's special needs. But the other children in the class accepted, loved, and served him.

    I knew that Christopher's parents desperately needed some time to attend classes on their own. What I didn't realize at the time was how challenging it was for them to leave Christopher in my classroom each Sunday, although, they would be just down the hall. Handling Christopher along with my other students was sometimes quite challenging during those years. But I learned much and am grateful to have had that opportunity.

    Nowadays I am grateful for the teachers and leaders that serve my son that has an autism spectrum disorder (coupled with other issues). I know that he presents challenges for them. But their service blesses our family tremendously.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 5:31 a.m.

    It could of been worse. It could of been Me. Than I would have to worry what will happen to the kids after I'm gone.