It’s completely normal for parents to want to protect their children. They don’t like seeing their son or daughter hurt.
During these difficult times when they are in the midst of tough situations, parents can usually turn to their friends for help. Maybe they’ve already seen their kids through this rough period of childhood and can help give wise advice.
But what if your friends are the root of your frustration? Who can you turn to then?
Christine and Shane Stephenson are parents to an adorable 6-year-old boy named Reilly. Reilly lives with autism and is nonverbal. He has a dog with an unusual but awesome name: Samwell Tarly.
— Life of Reilly (@life_of_reillys) October 2, 2017
Christine and Shane keep it real about having a son with autism. Christine even maintains a blog about their challenges and experiences.
One experience the entire family struggles with is being excluded from parties and events with the couple’s friends.
Shane noticed a friend’s post on Facebook recently about their child’s birthday party – a party Reilly wasn’t invited to.
Sadly, this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Reilly hasn’t been invited to any birthday parties, even those of children whose parents are friends with Shane and Christine.
Finally, the upset father decided he couldn’t take it any longer.
Shane let out his rage on social media, and his powerful post got the attention it needed. (Warning: language may be offensive to some)
— Life of Reilly (@life_of_reillys) November 4, 2017
“My son Reilly has autism, not fucking leprosy,” he wrote. “He is six years old, and my so-called friends who have kids also have kids’ parties. Not ONE invite not fucking one.”
It’s so sad to see this happen with Reilly and his family. Rejection, on any level, is painful.
Shane made it clear in his post that he doesn’t want any “pity invitations”:
“Just for the record in the future don’t bother he’s not an afterthought he’s my every fucking thought.”
Christine said that, while this latest missed party hurt the loving father, his outburst was a long time coming:
“It hurt him, but that post was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. He has felt for a long time that we are often overlooked, and the support isn’t great,” she said.
While the Stephensons haven’t received support from within their circle of friends, parents online are now behind them one hundred percent. Christine shared her husband’s post on Twitter where other parents with autistic children related to their situation.
“I feel your pain. I have two on the autistic spectrum, and this has been our life too. Big hugs to you all xxx,” read one supportive tweet.
“We have experienced the same with our daughter,” said another, “there is no excuse for the ignorance of some people. Your son is a lucky wee man to have a family as supportive as you guys are- stay strong xx.”
While it doesn’t right past wrongs, Christine did say that some of Shane’s friends were brave enough to apologize.
“A couple of friends have responded mortified that my husband felt like that,” she said. “Moral to this story is just ask — there’s a chance we will decline if we deem it too much for Reilly, but he loves a party even if it’s just for half an hour.”
Christine showed grave concern when speaking about the many couples with autistic children who find their kids excluded from their friends’ social events. The worst action to take when you have a friend with a child with a disability is to not talk about the elephant in the room.
Don’t exclude the family or the child. Always ask, even if you might get a “No thanks, not this time.” If you’re good friends, you should be able to have this conversation without any problems.
While her family struggles to have a social life, Christine said that, to her, being included is “priceless.”
It doesn’t hurt to be kind. The more diverse relationships children have, the more accepting and empathetic they’ll be as adults.
Hopefully this story will be a reminder for many to show kindness and compassion to all people, no matter how different they may seem.
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