We often end up in the 'crying room' of our church, and never take a seat towards the front, as Christina, (age 5 with Down syndrome) is completely unpredicatable. She'll be sitting quietly, even participating (last Sunday I heard her singing "Alleluia") and suddenly become unmanageable, making us take her out to the vestibule. Gabbi usually volunteers to take her out, leaving me to pray, but I try to call them back to say the Our Father as a family. By and large, however, I must say that our parishoners' reactions have been welcoming. We get smiles and special handshakes at the Sign of Peace. The priest usually gives her a blessing at Communion time.
Perhaps this has something to do with a regular column I started in my parish newspaper, Eagle's Wings. I feature a different special needs parishoner each issue, with the hopes that this will give people something to say to them next time they run into them at Mass. Sometimes people want to reach out to someone with disabilities, but lack the words. I hope that knowing the person's name has helped to ease the process of starting a friendship.
I'll be posting these articles in the future.