Civil Rights

Judge Upholds Order Banning Autistic Boy from Church

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A Minnesota judge has upheld a restraining order banning a teenager with autism from his local Catholic church, which contends he is dangerous to other parishioners.

“Todd County District Judge Sally Ireland Robertson, in upholding a restraining order, said in her ruling that the parents of 13-year-old Adam Race ‘have been unable to prevent their adult-sized minor child from repeated incidents of unwanted and intrusive conduct’ at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bertha,” reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The case came to Robertson after the 6-foot, 2-inch, 225-pound teen’s mother, Carol Race, of Eagle Bend, asked for a hearing on the restraining order. Race termed today’s ruling “very shocking,” and says she hasn’t yet decided whether to appeal through the court system or the church hierarchy.

The church contends in court papers that her son repeatedly, albeit unintentionally, disrupts church services by making noise and flailing his arms, and has bumped into elderly parishioners, hit a smaller child and at one point point pulled a teenage girl onto his lap and held her there for 15 minutes.

Race contends much of what the church claims is exaggerated, and says it’s important for her son to be able to attend church, rather than watch services on a video feed in the basement, as the church has suggested.

“He’s never actually injured anyone,” she says in an earlier Associated Press article. “He’s never knocked down anyone. He’s never urinated on anyone or spit on anyone.”

Autistic individuals, whose behavior problems can vary from minor to severe, are affected by a neurobiological disorder that makes it difficult for them to understand and communicate with others, as the Autism Speaks group explains on its website.

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