On the popular subreddit "Am I The A**Hole?" one woman attracted the ire of the entire community after asking whether she was actling like a jerk for inviting her son's entire class to his birthday party...
...except the child with autism.
"My sons 10th birthday is next saturday and me and my husband have been planned a party for him. To make sure we gave everyone enough time we got invitations ready 2 weeks in advance and I had my son pass them out Friday. We invited every one in his class (he goes to a small private school so there were only 15 kids to invite). Except for one child well call david."
"The school my son goes to has a program for special needs kids where they are put into a 'normal' class once a week. David is a high functioning autistic child who was put in my sons class to help him socialize and to help the other kids learn to not discriminate against special needs people. From what I know about him and his mother they are just doing their best, and I have nothing against either of them. However, there have been incidents with david before."
"Last year through friends I had heard that David had a meltdown at another party he was invited to. I don't know if I believe it but parents who were there say that it was because he wanted to open presents like the birthday boy and when told no freaked out. There are other logistical problems as well (The party will be in a loud arcade) so in the end I decided to not invite david."
"Well, after my son passed the invitations word spread around that we had excluded the special needs child in his class. This got back to davids mother who called me last night and confronted me about this. She told me that I am awful for excluding her son and that i'm teaching my son to discriminate. When I brought up the logistics and the past incident she told me that i'm an asshole for assuming what her son can and cant do before hanging up. I woke up this morning to a passive aggressive post by her and many other parents are siding with her."
"I just want my son to have a good party and didn't mean anything by this. AITA?"
jimmyjrdanceparty let her know right out the gate that things weren't looking good for her.
"Look, I understand your concern about the meltdown. But you could have spoken to his parents beforehand about the environment and potential ways to mitigate that; you could have spoken to your son's teacher to see if s/he has advice for how David is in group situations."
"You don't even know how his behavior may have improved over the past year specifically because of being included socially. This would have been a good chance to teach your son to include people, and instead you taught him it's okay to exclude someone if their disability makes your fun time slightly more difficult."
PoverishQueen was a little more forgiving, but not by much.
"This is true. I may catch some heat for this, but I will say, there may be a legitimate concern with what David's breakdowns are like however. I have seen very violent meltdowns from kids and adults on the spectrum (yes I know this can be anyone BUT is a bit more prevalent on the spectrum). I am not a parent but my big concern would be if the mother would be there the whole time. OP does not sound qualified to care for a child with special needs and it would be unfair to do that to someone with no experience."
"OP is def TA for how she handled things. She should have called or messaged about the party, asking 'do you think the arcade would be too much? Our plan is: ...' and 'Are you going to be there? I may not be able to handle any possible problems and don't want David to get hurt'."
"Of course, OP didn't mention any of the possible problems I mentioned and don't know anything about children on the spectrum and just assumed that David would be a nightmare."
Anti-Satan knows ignorance like OP's is all too common.
"Your point of view is a very common one, but the very important point here is that this is exactly what discrimination looks like. It's not a matter of hating disabled or black people, it's a matter of pre-judging them for tenuous or no reason. It's easy to say that she simply made the wrong choice based on sound reasoning, but more likely she wanted reasons to keep him out and found them."
"I mean, even in her worst case scenario, if the kid would have a fit at the party, his mother would just remove him. Instead OP denied him access based on the prejudice ('preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.') that he is likely to have a fit."
"Imagine if she'd said she excluded the black inner city kid who was there for similar reasons because she didn't want to risk him stealing something."
seawaterotter thinks the mother could have easily asked the autistic child's parents for their input.
"Most definitely. OP could have talked with parent and asked them to come with, if supervision is a concern"
flowrface thought this entire issue stemmed from a misunderstanding of autistic children.
"also, i'd like to throw in how OP thinks that this child is only in the class so that people learn to not discriminate, lol. the child has high functioning autism, he likely functions like a normal child. my mom helped PLENTY of high functioning autistic children when she was an aid, and they were all extremely bright. they just needed some extra help."
"OPs whole attitude towards autistic people seems pretty awful."
PandeanPanic has first hand experience with being excluded.
"yeah as someone on the higher end of the spectrum people tend to either thing I don't suffer from issues at all or that I'm a particularly dim five year old in a 23 year old woman's body."
"Versus, like, me just being an actual person with special needs that vary in certain areas. I feel so bad for this kid. Especially because it reads like the invitations were passed out during classtime. Which like, if everyone is watching, fucking hurts. I've been there."
"And yeah they're not gonna stick a super low functioning autistic kid in a normal classroom to teach kids not to discriminate that's not how that works."
ValkyrieSword thinks we should all be judged by our best moments, not our worst.
"Exactly. A meltdown at one party doesn't automatically mean he will melt down at ALL parties. You didn't even TRY to find a way to include him. THis post made me super sad & angry. YTA"
The_strangest_quark was one of many people deeply saddened by the mother's post.
"I'm autistic and it made me sad as well. I have meltdowns sometimes at social situations and if somebody used that as an excuse to not invite me to something I would be so heartbroken. Like the fact that I have some social issues would make me a lost cause who's doomed to never have friends because I'm too 'difficult'"
poopshoes53 gave us the truth: not inviting the last member of her sons class was the mother's loss.
"There's a kid with HFA in my daughter's class. When she had her first 'friends' birthday party, she invited him. His parents were really emotional when they RSVPd....'He doesn't really get invited to stuff....ever'."
"He came with his mom, there were a couple glitches, but everyone had fun. He's been a fixture ever since and now invites both her and her little sister to his birthday parties too. He's a cool kid and we've all been lucky to include him and be included by him."
"OP has no idea what she's potentially missing out on."