WHAT MIGHT I EXPECT?
A Welcoming Approach
Everyone desires and deserves our love and support. We must appreciate that we are all a part of our parish community and help each person enter into the Mass as fully as he/she is able. With a little prior planning and reliance on discrete, appropriate support strategies, all of us can enter into the abundant graces of the Sacred Liturgy.
A Quiet Place
A quiet place to go if needed may be provided. An alternate worship space close by where Mass is streamed or is in view can be beneficial for those with sensory sensitivities.
Encourage your fellow parishioners with supportive words during the Sign of Peace or after Mass. Offer assistance and support in a gentle manner.
Families with members with disabilities will usually have a plan to handle issues that may present themselves. Keep in mind that some behaviors may be due to a disability.
Accommodations You May Experience
Light levels may be adjusted. Fluorescent lighting will be avoided if possible.
Sections of the Church may be kept dimmer. Some participants may wear dark glasses to assist with light sensitivity.
Loud sounds including clapping will be avoided. Microphones will be checked to lessen static or unwanted sound. Music will be chosen that is not overly loud or high register. Participants could also use sound blocking headphones or assistive listening devices if needed.
The Order of Service
Those with Autism and IDD are often very literal, and pictures aid their understanding. Explicitly clear instructions are important for their participation. Providing Mass picture guides available at opdarchphilly.org can be used to assist with attention.
Many of our liturgical rituals, such as shaking hands, sprinkling water, and using incense may be uncomfortable for those with sensory issues.
Preparing for special rites or arriving early to walk through some of the ritual actions can be helpful. Be mindful that some participants may be uncomfortable with physical contact and some may use discrete fidgets, wiggle or comfort seat cushions to assist them during mass.
There is a beautiful order to the Mass that can be comforting to those with sensory needs. Keeping Mass simple and predictable with concrete shorter homilies can make the Mass sensory friendly for all.