FIND MYSELF reading up about autism from time to time. None of my kids have been diagnosed, but there are times when I can really relate to the challenging reactions to everyday events.
Tonight, after browsing through Asperger Experts, it occurred to me that my family’s leaning to more traditional Masses may be related to having a finite reserve of energy available for social interaction.
Sometimes the very steps people take to be more welcoming can become threatening. The Sign of Peace is a stress point for people who have limited social energy. A priest descending from the altar to shake hands with everyone is not just a distraction, but a threat. Better to save greetings for after Mass in a setting where there can be time to think and room to escape.
Predictability is important too. Knowing that the priest will “say the black, do the red” is reassuring.
Although our culture seems to deride people who can’t go with the flow or maintain a witty repartee, maybe the Mass allowed for these people long before terms like “sensory processing disorder” were invented.