public welcome... public humiliation

Our first official service at our new church was memorable. Mostly for everyone else. And mostly because they couldn't hear themselves think over the raucous screams of the Autistic Spectrum three year old during communion.

Yes, public humiliation was the name of the game today. Our official welcome up the front was lovely and we nearly got away with appearing like a sweet family, complete with three quite well-behaved children.

But then came communion, and daddy disappeared from three year old's view - to help up the front - just doing his job.

"Daddy? Daddy! DADDDY! WHERE's DAD?"

He couldn't have been louder if he tried - he nearly drowned out the Pie Jesu on the pipe organ. I thought I'd better take him up for communion so he could see Daddy, but he escaped up to the front, out of my reach, dodging the lovely elderly folk with walking frames and sticks who were returning from taking part in the bread and wine.

By the time I got to him, I'd mucked up the queue, and the order of the communion servers. I decided I'd better take him outside - who knows what he might have done next? - so picked him up under one arm, the baby under the other and dodged my way down the aisle again, mouthing 'sorry, sorry' to everyone I passed, all while he continued to yell at full throttle, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! No!"

Talk about making an entrance.

It took him fully half an hour to calm down outside, most of which time he screamed in my ears as I tried to cuddle him. When finally he was happy and the service had finished, everyone I spoke to said as their opening words to me, "Don't worry. We're not worried. You don't have to be worried." Which was nice of them. But it just shows how much of a performance we actually did put on.