A father's fiery text message to his so-called friends is touching hearts on Twitter and teaching thousands of people a lesson in inclusion.
Christine Stephenson shared her husband's text which he had written to his friends who ostracized them and their autistic son. The strongly-worded message was posted on Christine's Twitter page where it soon went viral.
Christine said her 6-year-old son, Reilly, is "pretty much nonverbal" and Shane, her husband just had it with people who claim to be his friends always excluding the boy from their kids' parties.
Shane was just so angry about it that he could not take it anymore. He sent the friends a text which expressed his pain and disappointment in them. He also made sure to let them know that the message was not aimed at guilting them into changing their ways.
"In the future, don't bother," he said. "He's not an afterthought."
The incensed tweet was retweeted over 4500 times as the message behind the words touched many.
Christine said they had since heard from many of their friends who were 'mortified' about their actions. The mum used the opportunity to bring up the issue of inclusion. Speaking to CafeMom, she explained that they experienced this often and that this is a big problem for autistic people.
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.
The Stephensons appreciated all the support that had come their way since the post went viral and they urged other families to put their preconceptions about autistic kids aside going forward. She explained that not all autistic kids are comfortable around parties or crowds and the parents know this. However, it's better to get an invite anyway. Even though it may be declined, it's always nice to know they were thought of as opposed to being made to feel like they do not matter.
Being a parent of an autistic child comes with many challenges and it can be doubly hard when it seems like people are choosing to leave your kid out of things. But hopefully, stories like that of the Stephensons will encourage more people to take a second look at their actions and think about how hurtful they might come across even when they do not mean to be.