This thread makes me so sad!
How wonderful that this young boy was at Mass with his mother.
I thought he would have known my posture of head down and hands folded meaning to not disturb me (which is my normal way of going up to receive Communion).
No, this is not something he knew, in fact it is the same posture that most (all?) the people in the Communion lines at both the churches I attend adopt. As adults we know not to disturb people in the Communion line, a child does not necessarily.
The young man then tried to grab my right arm several times to get me to shake hands with him like he was able to do with several others in the line. I gently pushed his arm away several times before I was out of his reach to go receive Communion.
If you had just shaken his hand, as “several others in the line” did, it would have been a momentary disturbance of your “silent reflection time” instead you chose to engage in shrugging him off and being so distressed that you are asking how to handle it if it happens again.
How should I handle it if it happens again?
Shake his hand and go back to your silent reflection.
Should I approach his mother who certainly does her best to make him behave himself at Mass and let her know?
Please don’t do this. You have already noticed that she is teaching him how to behave in church.
I am reminded of a story about when Jesus was tired, and what did He say about the children when the disciples tried to turn them away?
There are other children in my parish that have Downs that remain seated at Communion quietly unless they receive. Another young lady who has Downs like the young man receives Communion very reverently, sits quietly most of the time during Mass, and does not reach out for others the way he did to me and others in the line.
There is such a huge range of abilities, and hugely varying degrees of severity that all fall under the umbrella of ‘Downs’ that you really cannot compare the behaviour of one with another.
My heart is heavy for a child who was so rebuffed and may lack the verbal skills to ask his mom to explain why this happened. He just wanted to shake your hand, not distract your from your reflections with idle chatter.