Mom Asks ‘AITA’ For Not Making Daughter Invite Autistic Child To Her Party - Finding Cooper's Voice | Welcome to the Secret World of Autism (2024)

Hi. My name is Carrie.

I have five kids, and mysecond son is diagnosed with autism. He is fifteen years old, and his name isJack.

I write a lot aboutautism—how is affects me, and my family, and my son.

Yet I rarely write about currentevents or news stories, unless it’s about a complicated kid making abuzzer-beater to win a basketball game at the last minute—that’s the kind ofinspiring thing I can get behind, you know?

Jack will never shoot abuzzer-beater during a game.

He hates basketball.

Anyway, the other day I cameacross this article.

I had to read it one over acouple of times, mostly because I didn’t know what AITA meant. I thought maybeit was a typo and the author’s name was really ANITA.

And that right there shouldgive you an idea of where I stand with pop culture.

Apparently it means ‘Am I The A$$hole’, as in the author wrote this question into a social media platform to inquire if she made the right decision, or is, indeed, an a$$hole.

The thing is, I don’t knowmuch about anything. But I do know if you have to question yourself or the cyberspaceuniverse about whether or not you are an a$$hole, it’s quite possible you are.

Anyway, from this pointforward I will refer to the author as Anitainstead of AITA because I thinkit sounds nicer.

And for those of you who likea fast re-cap, the black-white-facts-without-any-grey of the matter are:Anita’s daughter is in second grade. She was having a pool party to celebrateher birthday. It was a drop-your-kid off kind of party.

Anita invited the entireclass with the exception of one boy with non-verbal autism.

Anita wants to know if thiswas wrong.

Oh, Anita! Anita, Anita. You are making my head hurt.

And this is why I don’t likewriting about current events! It’s too stressful.

Listen, I never expectedpeople to include my son because he had autism. I realize he is not always easyto connect with, and has behaviors that at times appear odd.

But if you are going toinvite the entire class to a party, and specifically exclude one boy because heis diagnosed and goes to another program for part of the day, well, this doesnot make me feel so good.

What if he had diabetes?Would you leave him out because of all the sugary treats typically found at abirthday party and his insulin might spike up sky high?

Or how about if he had abroken leg and used crutches and couldn’t swim in the pool?

I guess what I’m asking is, shouldrequest you copies of every child’s health and academic records so you canprofile who would be most suitable to celebrate for the afternoon?

Or is it just because kidslike my son—kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder—who wear theirdiagnosis on their sleeve, so to speak?

Here is the thing. When Iread stuff like this, I cannot allow myself to wallow in anger and despair.It’s not helpful—for me or Jack.

The only thing I can do istry to come up with a few ideas to make this whole autism thing a little easierfor everyone.

If you are planning a partyand you don’t know if you should include a child who seems high-maintenance, orunmanageable, or has a diagnosis with which you are unfamiliar, here are some thingsyou might try.

1. Trust us.

I would never put Jack, or you,in a situation that is dangerous, or unsafe, or weird, or uncomfortable. MaybeI’d bring him for a little while and stay myself, or just pop over so he could drop off a gift.

And if Jack chooses a gift,you should know it’s going to be great. He puts a lot of time and research intohis gift-buying. For my birthday he gave me the best popcorn make you have everseen. It makes the best popcorn—not too soggy but not burnt either. We use itevery night.

2. Reach out.

Reach out to the parents.Something as simple as a text or a phone call feels like you are building abridge to our side of the water.

Hi Mrs. Cariello! We would like to invite Jackto the party. How can we make this successful for everyone?

3. Please, put yourself in our shoes.

No, no. That’s not right.

Put yourself in his shoes.

Imagine you are an 8-year boywhose words stick upon his tongue like so many bees trapped in honey.

Imagine you have to leave theclass throughout the day for special services and instruction and mandatoryquiet time.

Imagine every single day youwatch the world glide by from the gilded golden cage in which you sit—a rare,tropical bird who is largely misunderstood, and lonely.

4. Don’t assume.

Don’t assume non-verbal means unable to understand that everyone in class went to a party while Istayed home.

Don’t assume an inability toexperience feelings of loneliness, and embarrassment, and shame.

Don’t assume people withautism aren’t interesting, or fun, or intelligent.

Jack loves people.

He loves to swim.

His autism is not his fault.

It’s not his fault his brainis wired a little differently and he jumps around sometimes and the bee-wordsmove slowly through their stickiness.

So why is he punished againand again?

Give him a chance. Get toknow him. Talk to him.

I think you’ll find yourselfsurprised by just how much you enjoy him.

All we have is each other.

Mom Asks ‘AITA’ For Not Making Daughter Invite Autistic Child To Her Party - Finding Cooper's Voice | Welcome to the Secret World of Autism (1)

Written by, Carrie Cariello

Carrie Cariello is the author of What Color Is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better, and Someone I’m With Has Autism. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their five children.

Carrie is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY Parents, the TODAY Show, Parents.com. She has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, and also has a TEDx talk.

She speaks regularly about autism, marriage, and motherhood, and writes a weekly blog atwww.carriecariello.com. One of her essays, “I Know What Causes Autism,” was featured as one of the Huffington Post’s best of 2015, and her piece, “I Know Why He Has Autism,” was named one of the top blog posts of 2017 by the TODAY Show.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice?LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey.You can also follow us onFacebook, subscribe forexclusive videos, and subscribe to ournewsletter.

Mom Asks ‘AITA’ For Not Making Daughter Invite Autistic Child To Her Party - Finding Cooper's Voice | Welcome to the Secret World of Autism (2024)
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