Dad Puts His 'Friends' on Blast for Not Inviting His Boy With Autism to Their Kids' Birthday Parties


The Life of Reilly - Autism & us/Facebook
It can be incredibly hard as a parent to helplessly watch when children aren't nice to your kid. But when your little one has autism and those hurtful actions come from a place of not understanding, it can be even more difficult. Luckily, many parents have family and friends to support them and their kiddo. These loved ones are there to help raise awareness and, if nothing else, show unconditional love instead of the cruelty that many autism families have to deal with from others on a daily basis. As the proud parents of Reilly, Christine and Shane Stephenson have come to expect hardships from strangers and classmates, but when it's coming from their own friends, Shane refuses to keep quiet. Instead, he is putting them on blast and standing up for his child.

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At 6 years old, Reilly is nonverbal, and Christine has been open about their lives through her blog, The Life of Reilly, to help raise awareness for autism. But it's her husband, Shane, with a message of his own for those closest to them who should understand, but who still don't seem to get it -- and his candid words have been brewing for some time: "My son Reilly has autism, not f*cking leprosy," he wrote on Facebook, which Christine then shared on Twitter. "My so-called friends who have kids also have kids' parties. Not ONE invite, not f*cking one."

 

life of reillys twitter
life_of_reillys/Twitter

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This frustrated dad wants that to sink in for a minute. His son isn't being left out of parties by classmates who don't understand his differences or don't have experience with autism; instead, it's happening because of family friends. When you can't expect your pals to put a birthday invite in the mail on behalf of their own kiddos -- who are the same age as your child -- how can you have hope for a more inclusive world? 

"Have you any idea how hurtful that is?" he wrote.

Shane also makes it clear that the purpose of his post isn't for sympathy or pity invites. "Just for the record, in the future, don't bother, he's not an afterthought, he's my every f*cking thought."

Parents across the Internet are applauding Shane and sharing their own similar -- and heartbreaking -- experiences:

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Christine tells CafeMom that Shane decided to speak out after seeing a friend's social media post that hit a nerve. "Shane was very upset at the thought of Reilly not being part of his circle of friends. This incident was just the straw that broke the camel's back," she says. "We struggle for support; we have no regular childcare and feel very isolated."

Since sharing the post, Christine says they've heard from friends who are "mortified" over being part of the problem. Although she understands that it can be easy to forget about them when they are rarely able to participate in things, she hopes that others learn to stop assuming. "Just ask. Don't assume we don't want to go somewhere because it's difficult; our lives are difficult, often fueled on three hours sleep," she says. "Parents know how their children will be in certain surroundings and there is no one better placed to call it. They may decline your invitation  but I can guarantee it will be declined with grateful thanks that they were thought of."

It's never too early to teach your kids to be inclusive and think about others besides from themselves, so, parents, please just send the invites. Every child wants to feel included and have fun at a birthday party -- autism doesn't change that. "Inclusion is a huge problem for autistic people," Christine says. "Reilly may not speak, but he listens and he understands -- as he grows I genuinely fear for the effects this may have on his mental health."

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