My son's always left out

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-09-2012
My son's always left out
Mon, 01-23-2012 - 9:27am

I have a ten year old son with special needs. Family does not believe it is autism despite numerous diagnoses by numerous doctors throughout the years. Like we would give him a label without being sure? Anyway my problem is that he is left out of everything. At gatherings no one plays with him. Cousins get together and he is never invited. He is so much better than he used to be but no one gives him a chance. My older kids are invited but even when they are doing things my little guy can do, they still do not invite him. My husband does not speak up to his family. He does not want to make waves and he does not know how to approach it without doing so. He also thinks that part of it is just that the kids are different and not because of my son's autism. Me, I am not so sure. I am tired of having to find a way to distract my son when the other kids get together or keep an eye on him at a gathering because the only people that will play with him is his older sister and one cousin who is two years older. (There are other cousins my son's same age, and two younger, but the parents don't make them include him.) My son is very smart and sees all of this and his feelings are hurt. How do I get the family to open their minds and realize autism is not just rocking in a corner and to be compassionate to my son? My son's main issues that are evident and occur outside are social issues and we work with him to prevent meltdowns that make him stand out and look different. But he can only learn to improve his social skills if people give him a chance. I am so tired of family acting like he chooses to be this way and continuing to leave him out of activities I know he would enjoy. Why is it family is so often more difficult than random friends? (We are not in a position to alienate my husband's family over this as we are new to the area and while we never see them they are the only people we know.)


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Mon, 01-23-2012 - 11:59am

The only suggestion I can come up with, is perhaps start inviting the cousins over, in small groups.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2004
Mon, 01-23-2012 - 5:41pm

I am so sorry! What a heartbreaking thing for your family.

One thing really struck me. You said you didnt' want to anger the family b/c they are the only family you know.

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Tue, 01-24-2012 - 6:00pm
My heart goes out to you. As the Mom of 2 special needs sons and Grandma to a special needs grandson, I understand what is happening and the pain you are feeling from your son being treated differently. This isn't an issue with the kids. This is something they have learned from their parents. I have found that young children accept their peers' handicaps without any concerns. They may have questions but it's the parents who act like there is something "wrong" with a special needs child.

My suggestion is to ask the adults in the family to meet with you & your DH. Then I would ask to enlist their help in ensuring your son is included in playing with their kids. I would try not to sound hurt or defensive but rather tell them how much you need their assistance in helping your DS fit in. No adult wants to hurt a child & likely don't realize what they are doing. They may not be comfortable taking him on trips as they may not feel they can't deal with him if there is a meltdown as they aren't trained like you are to avert it or to handle when it occurs. I agree with the suggestion of play dates at your house to help everyone become more comfortable. I would also find a way to meet new people so you aren't as dependent on the family for companionship.

What does the family believe your son has if it's not autism? What do they feel is the problem? Maybe it's time to share some information with them about what your DS's condition really is like. People are afraid of what they don't understand.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2008
Wed, 01-25-2012 - 12:35am

Hello like -

I have a daughter with Down syndrome.

Avatar for ubergeek
Community Leader
Registered: 09-23-2010
Wed, 01-25-2012 - 2:59pm


I feel like I could have written everything you just did, with the exception of cousins. We don't have any. ;) My son is 10 (11 in August) and is Aspberger's-like. Shows tendencies, moreso in social situations, but isn't self-contained in his own world. This, throw's the inlaws for a loop because "how could he have something wrong with him if he doesn't look like there is anything wrong with him"? You know, I'm just raising him to be this way. ;)

I wish I had some advice (admittedly, I haven't yet read the other responses) so hopefully someone else has an idea. Right now we just deal with it by constantly reminding them that THIS is how he is and THAT is how he reponds. (I'm still furious over SMIL yelling at him two years ago when BIL was doing the same thing, DS copied didn't know when to stop (part of his social issues and communication disability) and SMIL yelled at him. :( It truly breaks my heart. No one should have to be yelled at because they don't comprehend even if they look like they should be able to comprehend. :(

One thing to watch though, is that this is a tough age, as you know. You do want to help, but at the same time, don't go forcing the other kids to include him. It could make matters worse (teasing, etc.). Not saying the other kids would do that, but there is always teasing between kids and I know my DS does not understand sarcasm and the like.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-24-2012
Wed, 01-25-2012 - 5:14pm

Oh boy do I feel your pain.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Wed, 01-25-2012 - 5:42pm

"My husband does not speak up to his family. He does not want to make waves and he does not know how to approach it without doing so. He also thinks that part of it is just that the kids are different and not because of my son's autism."

A couple of observations and then a couple of suggestions.

1)Why doesn't your husband stand up to his family?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Wed, 01-25-2012 - 10:16pm

I went throught a situation with my son who has ADD at school and none of the kids would play with him and he would have to eat lunch alone because the kids wouldn't let him sit at their table. I would sometimes go to school to have lunch with him and take him Mcdonalds, which made him feel special.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
Thu, 01-26-2012 - 9:18am
When I was young we would gather at my Grandma's which included cousins. There wasn't anyone of special needs in the group but there were still labels placed and children excluded and ignored. This is what children do...a child's weakness is used to be teased and bullied. I was bullied horribly as a child and it changed who I was to become. I didnt have special needs nor any physical abnormalities. They pick on who they perceive the weakest. It's an epidemic amongst kids and there really isn't anything we can do about it but strengthen our children and always show and tell them all the positive thoughts and love to boost their self esteem. If a child reacts emotionally to being excluded most parents hug and sympathize with the child which is great but that reinforces to the child that what happened to them was bad. We need to boost the child and challenge them to be strong.

This can be done with any child regardless of special needs. Remember Parents your children take cues from you.


P.s. just because a child chooses not to play with your son or daughter doesn't make him or her a bad child. It's behavior that goes on into adulthood. We have the right to choose who our friends are or who we as children want to play with and we can't change a bully because that's the way they've been raised.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-09-2012
Thu, 01-26-2012 - 10:30am

Wow thanks to you all for your answers! I do not normally share such personal issues but I am at my wits end.

We have had several talks with the family about our son. We have one in law who is fully on our side and loves autism awareness. We have another who listens and wants to understand but still thinks our son is too consumed with his interest in computer gaming and then there is the third who hangs her head and avoids eye contact because she knows her feelings are not nice. In the past she has stated that since he is not as bad as someone with a 'real' medical condition then it must be our parenting. She minimizes it so much yet has no real experience.

We have tried to explain that our son's interest in computer games will take him far. Yes, we make sure he does other things and he is a straight A student. He does like to bowl and participate in a league. Our son has been paid for computer gaming even at his young age and shows much promise in future career options. But that is overlooked because it is not sports. His cousin is very good at archery and they plan on that being his career choice, so a sports obsession is okay but computer gaming is not. Very double-standard.

To the person who mentions "balls" in regards to my husband, I feel I need to mention that that is not the case. He has spoken up for him many times and supports my decision to not attend further functions where my son runs the risk of being discluded. This is not my husbands fault. I do wish he would outright tell them that we are not attending unless our son is included but they know it and do not care. We have explained to them that our son does not want to have mood issues and does try but they feel it is something we can just make him do and they will still not explain to their children so that they will be nice. They simply have no tolerance for anything they see as misbehaving, though that only goes so far as other children. Their own are above reproach. That is part of the problem, distinctly different parenting styles.

It is sad but I do feel that my son will grow up without that ever changing. And I am going to have to be okay with that. We are presenting our son with other social options and one cousin will play with him from time to time, but only when our older son joins in, even though there is a large age difference. I think children learn compassion and bullying behavior from their parents and when it is allowed at home, it is hard for anyone else to change.

We have tried to include our son, to the point of walking over when we hear that our son is called a name (loser was used once) or picked on. The kids just alienate him more then, they do not want to include him and if their parents do not force them to, they do not listen to me or my husband. Before you know it, my son is again on his own and if we are not careful, he is embarrassed that we stepped in. It is a sticky situation and it is so aggravating that if the kids parents would just teach their kids a little bit, try a little bit or even be willing to learn and love him unconditionally, things could improve. Instead my son feels like the family members do not care and does not like that when an aunt or uncle or older cousin do find a spare second to talk to him, it is something like "you shouldn't talk to your mom like that." I have to immediately remind them "I am right here, I will handle it." Usually it is not even a real problem or they walked in halfway through a conversation or it is a social skill we are trying to teach him. In my opinion if you do not want to talk to him when he is being funny or just a regular situation you do not get to butt in to parent him, especially if we are standing right there. It comes through loud and clear that they are disgusted by a lot of his behavior, believe he can control it willingly and disapprove of our parenting.

At this point, we are not attending any further functions. The sad thing is that when they invite my older son and my younger son knows about it, we also have to say no sometimes. If they are all going to see a movie and they do not invite him, I have to say "my son would like to go too" and you can hear crickets. If they would just try it once, they would see that he would be on his best behavior and not be a problem. He tries SO hard to show people he can fit in. It is heartbreaking to watch. We have tried to invite everyone here or even just the kids. The last time it happened, we found the cousins were all in the clubhouse and had pulled up the ladder telling my son there was no room. Yes, we addressed it but again if it is not reinforced at home it makes no difference. We tried to invite them all on a public outing. No, we are busy but then we hear later they all went to the movies anyway. It is truly discouraging.

My husband agrees that bad interaction is worse than no interaction but I do not want this to be the cause of major family drama or him not having any family to speak with. As bad as it is for our son, my husband's feelings matter so we are trying to find some way to handle it other than telling them all that they are intolerant ignorant judgmental buttheads and stalking away, which is how I would love to handle it lolol but that obviously does not fix things. My husband's parents have passed away so his aunt that finished raising him is our advocate yet she can only do so much. So you can see that there is more reason as to why alienating them all is not ideal.

Thank you for your hugs and support. It is SO nice to have people I can speak with about this as I frequently feel so alone in our dilemma. I had hoped for a big happy family or at least a nice dysfunctional one like you see in movies haha but I guess that is not going to happen.