Today is going to be kind of a big day for our family. Later this afternoon, we will be heading out to my son's school to attend his First Communion. 18 years old is a little older that is typical for a child to go through First Communion, but with my son's developmental delays we seriously doubted that anything like this would ever take place for him.
Over the years, we have tried to take my son to attend weddings, First Communions, Christenings, and other events for family members that have taken place in churches. With his disabilities has come a number of behavioral issues that have led him to be disruptive. Often, one of us would have to sit out in the vestibule while the other sat in the sanctuary to observe the occasion.
When my wife and I got married, I was not active in any church. My wife was raised Roman Catholic, but converted to Mormonism a few years back. When our son was born, he was Christened in the Catholic Church, but we never really attended church. With our own lack of participation and his behavior issues, we never thought we would see this day.
There have been times when we have been able to keep him occupied and quiet for such occasions. Unfortunately, it often required that we allow him to sit with his CD player, listening to music with his headphones on. We were also able to get him to keep his constant speaking at a whisper so as not to disturb others at the occasion.
The school my son attends is a special needs residential school on the Eastern Shore that was established by a group of Benedictine nuns. When they first asked us a few months ago whether or not we would want for them to have our son prepare for First Communion and Confirmation, we were unsure as to how he would take to it. Reports from the woman running the class have been glowing.
My wife had to go out to the school to take my son his medications. When she talked to him, he was excited to talk about events that were coming up; his First Communion and his upcoming long weekend home during the Memorial Day weekend. He also gave her a kiss without any prompting, which is something he normally does not do. We usually have to ask for kisses from him.
The past month since his 18th birthday have been among the most encouraging since he has been at the school. His diet has improved dramatically. Previously, he would only eat chicken and some salty snacks. Now he is eating peas & carrots, peaches, mashed potatoes, pizza, and just about anything they put in front of him. It is further confirmation that we made the right choice in sending him away to school.