In sports, you often hear of an injured athlete’s status to play in the upcoming game referred to as a “game-time decision.” It describes the decision, often at the last possible moment, that the coach, player, and trainers will make to determine whether that athlete can participate or not in the upcoming game.
When it comes to raising Noah, our autistic child, every Saturday is a game-time decision on whether or not he will attend worship in person. There is a lot that goes into that call.
What has his week included? Was it a typical week? Was it a stressful one?
Was there anything going on out of routine on Saturday that could affect him? (Typically, it takes him a day or more to recover from high-sensory experiences.)
Will there be anything taking place in worship that is outside of the typical experience? Is there a musical piece that could affect him? Is there a soloist that might sing at a higher pitch?
Will people judge or criticize him for reacting to elements of worship that might affect him?
Will bringing him to worship lead him to have a meltdown at home that could affect the start of his week?
More often than not, it is easier for him to worship from home than to bring him to worship. It is primarily due to the lack of inclusion and the overwhelming sensory sensation he takes on in worship. We push him to go more often than we would prefer because of the damage not bringing him to worship can cause me as a pastor. On those days when we would rather keep him at home, both myself and my wife worship on edge either because he may cause an outburst or the potential reactions of others.
The Saturday call is a stressful decision that we make each week. Sometimes it is not made until I leave for worship to prepare for services early Sunday morning.
There is no other decision that we make each week regarding Noah’s care that is as difficult as the Saturday call.