Boy with autism kicked out of church by priest for playing ball during sister’s baptism
The parents of a 7-year-old non-verbal boy with autism were enraged after a priest kicked their son out of the church while they were in the middle of the baptismal rites for their baby daughter.
The parents said that “of all people,” a priest should have been “more sympathetic to a child with special needs,” as per ABC-owned WABC last Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Nicky Vicidomini was supposedly forced to leave a church in New Jersey in the United States because he was playing ball during the ceremony.
His mom, Julia Vicidomini, tried to explain to the priest that her son has autism, but the priest allegedly did not listen. She added that the priest was “unprofessional” and “ruined” their celebration.
“When I confirmed the date of the event, I was told it would, in fact, be a private celebration for just our family, no one else,” the mom said in a now-deleted Facebook post. “With this information, I felt more comfortable taking Nicky as he doesn’t do well with a full mass and large group settings.”
The family admitted that they were not able to inform the priest ahead of time that they have a child with special needs. However, after the baptism when they tried explaining the situation, the priest supposedly refused to apologize.
Due to the incident, Julia said that her family does not intend to go back to the church.
“I intend to withdraw my friendship and find a church that is more accommodating to children with special needs,” she was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Newark apologized on behalf of the parish for the “abrupt behavior” of their pastor.
“The pastor was unaware that the sibling playing in a nearby candle room during the ceremony has autism,” the archdiocese said. “The pastor did not understand the child’s behavior, he felt unprepared to respond appropriately, and his reaction to the situation was not pastoral.”
The statement added that the priest “acknowledges and is regretful for the mistake.” The archdiocese’s office specializing in persons with disabilities (PWDs) has been in touch with the family to “support healing.”
Nicky has a rare condition called Sotos syndrome, according to the mom, and autism is a manifestation of it. Julia is also the mom of 11-month-old Sofia and 16-year-old Christopher Davis.
“We are still upset but we are starting to heal as we await a personal apology from Father Luke,” Julia said, as per People on the same day.
The mom hopes their story will raise more awareness as well as acceptance for children with autism and other special needs.
“Individuals with special needs need to feel comfortable being able to go out into the community in any capacity that they are able to handle, even if it means having a ball or toy with them for comfort,” she was quoted as saying. “The way our son was treated is just another example of how there is still much to be done to educate others of those with disabilities.” Cha Lino /ra
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.