When a Father Brought His Autistic Son to Church

The Deacon's Bench | 6/17/2019 | Staff
Refel_4309 (Posted by) Level 3
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This just makes me want to weep.

Dr. Paul Rimmer took his son to Evensong yesterday at King’s College at Cambridge. This morning, he posted this letter on Facebook, which reads in part:

Son - Evensong - Chapel - Resident - Cambridge

I would like to apologize for bringing my autistic son to Evensong at your chapel. I am a resident of Cambridge and a member of the university, and my family and I have attended services at the chapel from time to time. I have always been inspired by the beauty of the building, the worshipful attitude of the service, and the hospitality you have extended to the wider community, as stated in your most recent welcome letter which expressed your “hope that, whenever and however you share in the life of the Chapel, you will be inspired, encouraged and refreshed.” I am proud to worship within a communion that is “asking the question, how can we enable disabled people to be at the heart of our communities, explore their vocation and realise their gifts?” (https://www.churchofengland.org/…/church-resources/welcomin…).

I chose to attend Evensong on Trinity Sunday, also Father’s Day, with my two sons, one of whom is autistic. Tristan is nine years old, and is a clever and joyful child, who loves church buildings, services, and choral music. He is also non-verbal, and expresses his excitement by calling out and laughing. His expressions are often loud and uncontainable. It is part of who he is, so there is no realistic way for him to be quiet. Many autistic people are like Tristan in this way. Right before the Kyrie, one of the ushers informed me that you had instructed him to remove us. Tristan’s expressions were apparently...
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