Reilly Stephenson is 6-years-old and “pretty much nonverbal,” Christine says, and this weekend was “just the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Her husband Shane had watched his “so-called” friends repeatedly exclude his child from their kids’ parties, and he couldn’t take it anymore.
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Shane’s anger, hurt and disappointment definitely struck a nerve on Twitter, as over 2,000 people shared his message and hundreds more replied with similar experiences. Many even offered to invite Reilly over to their own homes.
Christine, who regularly blogs about their family on The Life of Reilly, says they’ve since heard from friends who are “mortified” about their actions, even though Shane insisted he didn’t want any invites out of pity. “In the future, don’t bother,” he texted. ” He’s not an afterthought.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first or last time the Stephensons will experience a moment like this. Christine says that “inclusion is a huge problem for autistic people. “Don’t assume we don’t want to go somewhere because it’s difficult,” she told CafeMom. “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.”
While their viral moment prompted an outpouring of support, the Stephensons hope that other families will also learn to put their preconceptions aside going forward. “Parents know how their children will be in certain surroundings and there is no one better placed to call it,” Christine says. “They may decline your invitation but I can guarantee it will be declined with grateful thanks that they were thought of.”