Reilly Stephenson is a 6-year-old boy with autism who is also nonverbal. And while his father, Shane, is heartbroken as is with the struggles and judgments his son has had to face, what broke him even more was that his "friends" were not inviting Reilly to any of their kids' parties — so he decided to speak up. Shane texted his group of friends reminding them how incredibly hurtful it is to not be included.
"My son Reilly has autism, not f*cking leprosy," Shane wrote. "He is 6 years old and my so-called friends who have kids also have kids' parties. Not ONE invite, not f*cking one."
— Life of Reilly (@life_of_reillys) November 4, 2017
Reilly's mom, Christine, runs the blog The Life of Reilly, where the two parents write about their son's struggles in an effort to make families of children with autism understand that they are absolutely not alone. Their main goal is to "make people less judgmental."
It's so painful for some parents of children with special needs to witness how their children struggle socially, but Shane hoped that his friends would be able to help his son feel just a little less excluded. Christine and Shane could turn down an invitation if they thought Reilly wouldn't be OK at the party, but as always, it's the thought that counts, and in the case of Shane's friends, there was no thought.
In this text message, Shane reminded his friends that this shouldn't mean they should start inviting Reilly because they feel bad. "Just for the record, in the future don't bother," he wrote. "He's not an afterthought, he's my every f*cking thought."
And while Shane's friends didn't have the heart to invite his son to their parties, the outpouring on social media will warm your heart. Reilly is absolutely not the only child to be excluded from birthday parties, and parents are praising Shane for saying what they wish they could. Check out some of the reactions below, and remember, a little inclusiveness can go a long way.
Can you imagine how much good it could do if this was more widespread. I took my son to a class and the vibe was cold. My son just ran away
— fedup (@anj102) November 6, 2017
We have the same problem with my nephew, never gets party invites because he has autism and one birthday no school friends turned up😭😩
— Millie McBride (@MILLIEMCBRIDExx) November 6, 2017
Well done and well said to your husband! I'm a mum to 4 special needs children, 2 with autism and none of them are ever invited to parties either. We've learnt to forget the ones that don't show they care and make our own fun with the ones that do.
— Kristel Burgess (@BurgessKristel) November 6, 2017
It's so important. I remember. These things are more important to kids than I think adults realize.
— Dead Suzi (@Dead_Suzi) November 6, 2017