A Roman Catholic priest, Rev. Daniel Walz has banned a 13 year old boy with autism from his church in Minnesota, on the grounds of disruptive behaviour. According to news reports the priest was worried that the boy’s behavior was “disruptive and dangerous,” according to court documents. The Catholic priest had filed a restraining order preventing the boy with autism from entering the Church of St.Joseph in Bertha, Minnesota.

Carol Race, the mother of the autistic boy, named Adam, found out about the restraining order when she tried to attend mass at the Church of St. Joseph, where she usually went on Sundays. Todd County Sheriff Pete Mikkelson appeared in her driveway to warn her she would be taken into police custody if she and her son entered St. Joseph.

Carol Race of Bertha, Minnesota in the United States, refuted the claims made by the priest and stated that Adam may be noisy at times, but they usually sit in the back of the church and try to stay quiet. She also said that the restraining order amounts to outright discrimination.

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder affecting over 60 million people around the World. According to the CDC 1 in 150 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum.

The United Nations General Assembly in New York recently launched the first ever World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a message on World Autism Awareness Day – he paid tribute to the courage of children with autism and their families, who strive every day “to confront the disability with a powerful combination of determination, creativity and hope.”

In his message marking the World Autism Awareness Day, Mr. Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to build enabling environments for children with disabilities so they can prosper as future members of their communities, citizens of their countries and as fully-fledged members of the global community.

Campaigners are calling on Pope Benedict XVI to make a statement on autism and to provide instructions to the church on how to reach out to children and adults with disabilities – including autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

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