That’s just it: He is commenting on what he DOES know, which is what a typical adolescent or young adult will do, how self-centered they can be, how thoughtless they can be towards the feelings of others, and–in their totally appropriate search for independence, mind you!–how inappropriate and even rebellious they can be before they hit on appropriate ways to exercise independence. He is only saying that the typical things that happen to everybody else can also happen to parents of adolescents on the autism spectrum, because you are still the parents of adolescents. Soon, you will be the parent of a young adult. Your son is going to need you to see him as typical in that way, not as a 100% special case. (If his condition were that profound, he wouldn’t have been chosen to serve the Mass he was chosen to serve, would he?)
I have been one of the parish organizers for altar servers for a very long time. Let me assure you that what your son asked of you was not something an altar server with typical social awareness and maturity would never do. Parents with a son or daughter in altar serving with no sign of autism might still have their server put them on the spot in a way very much like what you just experienced.
We see this in altar servers in the “typical” spectrum more frequently than you might imagine. They can have an easy-going personality, be very diligent and mature servers, then hit adolescence and BAM!–what person–what entity!!–has taken over this server’s body?!? It can show up in surliness, it can show up in sloppiness, it can show up in an inexplicable resistance to following directions, it can show up in an attitude that says, “I am the single person I know who is not an idiot,” and it can show up in an inexplicable loss of confidence, too, and a change in what does and does not feel “supportive.” It certainly shows up when what was once an unfailingly gracious young person telling Mom and Dad to butt out and back off in very ungracious ways. Sometimes it passes, sometimes, they retire before it does. Sometimes, it freaks the kid out as much as it freaks out Mom and Dad. They presumably grow out of it, eventually.
A single incident triggered by a big Mass like this? Not OK, but not a big surprise.
Your job as a parent was to listen to your altar server’s concerns and decide whether or not you were going to make the adjustment being requested. It was up to you to say, “Son, I know you might be nervous, but those who serve at the altar do not get to decide who comes to Mass and who doesn’t,” just as it has always been your place to inform your son that he wants something unrealistic that he cannot have. Then he’d be on the spot to decide what he was going to do about that. Life is lived within these boundaries.
Since your son rejected the compromise you offered, it was then it was up to you as his parent to decide if you were going to make him cope with your choice to come in spite of his wishes or if you were going to give in to what he wanted to for the sake of making himself more comfortable. It was up to you to decide how much weight to give to his emotional challenges, since you know him best. Surely you would not ask anyone outside the family (and probably not anyone other than yourself) to make the sacrifice he was asking for. You know your relationship with him, though, and you don’t have to treat it the same as your expectations for how he treats everyone else.
OK, you decided to give him his way. That was your gift. Give it, and don’t impose the price of resentment. Otherwise, you ought to have told him he was being rude to you, denied his request, and not given him what he was asking for. You can tell him that you regret giving in (if you do), you can let him know you won’t be giving in next time, but don’t take the gift back now. Tell him you are responsible for giving in, because you are.
Having said that, he hurt your feelings by making the request. How would you coach him if you found he had done that to someone else? Well, consider having your husband do that on your behalf.
Were your son on the typical spectrum, I think it would be a good idea for your husband to explain that it was a big disappointment for you not to go to the Mass, that you made a big sacrifice to give him what he wanted, and tell your son that he ought to do something *considerably nice *to show his appreciation that you were generous well beyond what your son was entitled to ask you to be.
You do that a lot. Yes, you do it out of love, you are his mom, but showing gratitude towards our benefactors and those we have harmed is something we need, too. If it weren’t, would God need our gratitude? No, we show gratitude to God a) because it is right and b) because it is good for us. Likewise, we do penance as much for ourselves as any other reason. We need to “make amends,” because we understand justice in our bones.
Your husband might want to guide your son to think of a way to show his appreciation. If he is willing to make a gesture to show his appreciation for what you did, I think that will help you to get past this and take it less personally, too. It also lets your son have a chance to make a relationship repair attempt instead of just getting stuck in regret for something he can’t undo. That would probably make him feel better, too.