I have a son with Asperger’s. Occasionally, he has fits of rage, which are quite normal for someone with his condition. On a few occasions recently, he has hit me. Am I obliged to take him to confession when he does such things as I’m concerned about the possibility of mortal sin? I’m not sure he really understands the purpose of confession and sin, so I believe I need to kind of “babysit” him in this regard. It’s difficult because I suffer from scrupulosity myself and the priests in confession hardly ever give any advice about situations such as these:( Any advice would be appreciated.
it depends on the severity of his condition. If in general he has not the capacity to make moral judgments, to control his behavior, to know right from wrong he cannot sin because he cannot have full knowledge and full free will consent.
Has he made first communion and first confession? These issues should have been brought up in a private interview with the pastor and those preparing him at the time. See you pastor now. Even if he cannot participate in RE sessions he should be confirmed with others of his age, or sooner if his condition also poses a threat to his physical health.
Generally my son is able to make moral judments, however, as to whether he is able to control his behaviors, I’m not fully sure. He has done his first communion and confession as of last year.
I would sit down then with your priest and ask this question as it relates to your son and his situation.
Asperger is, as you know, a spectrum disorder which can have a large range of side effects that affect social behavior. One such effect is often a type of physical violence/rage/fits/etc. There may be many reasons for this, and scientists do not know the root cause, yet many possible causes of the fits are likely out of your child’s control.
While moral judgment may be possible at times, socially appropriate behavior may not always follow (which is the root of the disorder)…
You will probably know, much more than the priest, whether these actions arise from choice or from the disorder (and it may arise from a little bit of both). In general, priests take a course on child development, but the the specifics of Asperger is out of the scope of most priest’s training.
Ask your son why he did such and such? Is he able to articulate it? Does he show any signs that he knows that it is inappropriate social behavior? Make sure there is no parroting of set answers, try to discern it. And, of course, do not ask these questions right after the fit, because his answers may be skewed based on your own actions. Ask him during a time when he and you are calm.
Ask him, after the fact, if he is aware of any “wrong” that he has done lately… see if he brings up the fit? Or, simply ask him (a bit after the fit) if he has done anything that God would not approve of.
Also, in general, it may not a good idea to run the kids to the confessional each time they act out… just take them on occasion… my 2 cents…
If it is a symptom of the disease, then it is not a sin. Although surely it is very inconvenient, both for him and for you. Illnesses are often very inconvenient.
On a few occasions recently, he has hit me.
Now that he is getting bigger, it would be a good idea to consult with his doctor on how to deal with incidents like this.
Am I obliged to take him to confession when he does such things as I’m concerned about the possibility of mortal sin? I’m not sure he really understands the purpose of confession and sin, so I believe I need to kind of “babysit” him in this regard.
If he doesn’t understand what is going on, then he does not need to go.
You mentioned that he has received his First Confession - how did that go, for him? Did he understand at that time what was going on?