As another year’s High Holy Days starts to grow closer, obviously our thoughts start to turn back towards how to deal with the Monster and participation at synagogue.
(Now, my thoughts don’t just turn to this because we got our tickets for services on Saturday, but also because I had another occasion to be gabbai’ing, and because my in-laws were being honored for their fortieth wedding anniversary, my whole family came with me.)
We’re fortunate at our synagogue, as I’ve mentioned before on numerous occasions, to have a quiet room that’s well-situated so that parents can handle small children who aren’t up to participating in the services directly without missing the opportunity themselves to pray. Because the Monster is… unpredictable, we tend to migrate immediately there, rather than trying to get seated in the main sanctuary where he might disturb folks if he starts making noise.
But there’s some positive progress. I can usually manage to convince him to wear a kippah for at least a little while these days, rather than when he used to have an aversion to putting the barely-a-hat on his head. And he’s not been inclined recently to go up to the windows to bang on them, but content to play with some of the toys or sit still for a few minutes when we ask him to do so. For the time being, though, reminding him that there’s food afterwards – including the occasionally tempting cinnamon babka – seems to keep him from going too far off the handle.
Next on that list is going to probably be convincing him to sit quietly for longer, so that we can eventually migrate back out of the quiet room and into normal seats in the pews… but I’m hoping that’ll also be around when we convince R to do the same. At some point, I’d like to be able to actually sit in the sanctuary rather than behind glass.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that I’m feeling more comfortable these days at shul – the longer we’re in the ‘life’ with dealing with Autism – with up and telling people on first meeting the Monster that he has Autism. It seems to make things easier when we’re trying to explain some of his behaviors around other children and adults. (Being in the quiet room means we also tend to meet more visitors and newcomers, since the majority of families that come on a regular basis already know us, and they tend to go into the sanctuary proper anyway.)
Though, back to High Holy Days – this year, we’re juggling again. Rosh Hashanah is Thursday-Friday of next week, and schools are closed on Friday for a development day. (The Monster hates babysitting at synagogue, so it’s probably back to the quiet room for us that day.) Yom Kippur is a Saturday, and fortunately a Parents’ Day Out, so at least for part of the morning, I can be in the sanctuary…