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Woman Called ‘Ableist’ For Refusing To Invite Autistic Sister Who Bullies Her To ‘Prestigious’ Art Show

Dusan Jovic/Unsplash

Dealing with a family member’s disability can be a challenge.

For one woman on Reddit whose sister is autistic, things are particularly fraught because her sister’s condition affects the way she treats her.

So when she got into a prestigious art show, she wanted to exclude her sister–which sparked tons of drama in her family.

She wasn’t sure about how she handled things, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username Fabulous_Lychee_8469 on the site, asked:

“AITA for not wanting to invite my autistic sister to my art show?”

She explained:

“I (18f[emale]) got into this prestigious art show that I am really excited about. It opens up on Friday and there’s going to be a party, but I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want my sister (24f) to come.”

“Long story short, my sister’s autistic. She’s really smart (she went to an Ivy League School!) but does not do well with social cues.”

“Usually, this leads her to belittling me and being mean. My parents always tell me to get over it, and that since she’s autistic, she can’t help it.”

“But she doesn’t unleash on them the same way that she unleashes on me, so I don’t think they really understand. Every time something good happens to me she just kinds of sh*ts on it/me and she never, ever apologizes.”

“Anyhow, my parents found out about the art show and got mad at me for not telling them. They told me they’ll be coming to the opening with my sister (since she’s currently living with us).”

“I ended up breaking down and begging them not to bring her. I worked so, so hard for this and since she thinks that my paintings are silly in the first place, I know she’s going to try bringing me down in front of my friends and teachers.”

“I asked if they could just wait until after the party and go later (the show will be up for a week) but they said they’d be coming to the party.”

“They also said I was being ableist by wanting to exclude my sister. My sister found out and started screaming at me and calling me an a**hole for not letting her share in this moment with me.”

“From my point of view, I just want to have a happy night and celebrate this accomplishment, but idk. Everyone in my family’s pissed at me so maybe I am the a**hole?”

“TL;DR: My sister insults me all the time and I didn’t invite her to my art show because of it, but my family think I’m an a**hole for not doing that.”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And while most understood that this is a particularly thorny issue, most agreed that OP’s sister’s treatment of her is totally inappropriate.

“As someone who struggles with social cues, I feel awful when I say something that hurts someone. And then I change my behavior for the future”

“Autism does not equal a**hole.” –LazuliArts

“…I’m autistic and while I might not know what I said was appropriate or not, it makes me feel bad and I try my best to remember it the next time.”

“I don’t go out of my way to be a butt face and double down even when I’m told the reason (once I do understand the said reason)”

“NTA, good luck with future art shows op :)” –MysteriousAspie

“Agreed, NTA. As an autistic person who admittedly can be excessively blunt sometimes, I also listen when people tell me I’ve hurt them whether or not I meant to do so.”

“Autism isn’t a free pass for being an AH, and being autistic and being an AH are not mutually exclusive.” –raiindances

“i’m autistic, pretty decent at not being an a**hole, but sometimes i can’t tell what is and is not an a**hole move, so i need someone to tell me. the real problem here is the parents” –pigeoncore

“NTA.”

“They aren’t doing your sister any favours by crowbarring her into social settings that are significant for other people.”

“The rest of the world won’t react the same way your parents do, and it’s a shame they aren’t preparing her better re the natural consequences of demeaning people.”

“You deserve for your art night to just be about you.” –Here_for_tea_

“They definitely can. I know my son doesn’t treat any of his four siblings that way, or anyone else. If anything he is very kind to them.”

“He is my youngest daughters favorite person. I think this is more of a parent thing than autism thing. They likely always just allowed her to behave however she wanted.” –alm423

“Autism isn’t an excuse for being dismissive and unkind…& it’s not ableist to say so.”

“It’s actually more infanilizing & insulting to say that autistic people can never learn new behaviors, or be expected to act kindly towards others.”

“Misunderstanding social cues & being accidentally rude without realizing is one thing. But constantly insulting & belittling someone directly, even after they’ve repeatedly told you that it’s hurtful, is sh*tty behavior from anyone.”

“The autistic people I know manage to be kind, considerate friends despite not always understanding certain social cues.”

“The worst thing to happen is sometimes they’re too direct for some people’s comfort, & sometimes say things honestly that neurotypical people would usually sugarcoat.”

“But if someone is like ‘hey it really hurts my feelings when you say X’ then they’ll stop saying X to that person, even if they don’t personally understand why X is hurtful.”

“Autism doesn’t mean you’re incapable of empathy or being nice.” –rrienn

“Yup, we definitely can (and usually do!) figure out that certain kinds of bluntness actually hurt people, and we can in fact just… not be harsh.”

“Autism is only an excuse for missing social norms and nonverbal cues in the first place— but belittling someone has nothing to do with cues.”

“The only cue your sister should need is that her behaviour is hurtful. That’s it. That’s useful information that she can act on.” –cakeforPM

“People on all ranges of the spectrum can learn to behave respectfully. When they don’t, it’s because their inappropriate behavior is being dismissed which is as much a disservice to the person with autism as it is to everyone else.”

“OP, you’re NTA. And your parents need to reinforce appropriate behavior with your sister. Or she really will miss out on important events. I’m so sorry they’re enabling her.”

“CONGRATS on the art show! That’s amazing!!! I truly hope you are proud of yourself and able to enjoy your success.” –arianrhodd

“…I have two younger brother with it as well as a stepbrother. The oldest one used to honestly be a huge jerk when were younger.”

“He knew right from wrong as well as everyone else, but he would always used his autism as an excuse.”

“My parents never let it slide and would handle it the same way they would with me whenever I was disrespectful. Ops should tell whoever is running the show and try to have security not let them enter.” –RebeliousWatermelon

“Am autistic, can confirm, we aren’t all a**holes. She obviously knows have to control herself as she went to an Ivy League school and I assume didn’t get kicked out for behaving that way towards classmates.”

“I have four autistic kids, my spouse and I are both autistic. We have been teaching them from a young age that behavior isn’t okyour parents are ablest, they see your sister as nothing but her autism, rather than a human being that is capable of growth.”

“NTA” –tink630

“NTA.”

“Being autistic isn’t a free pass to being an abusive a**hole.”

“My daughter’s autistic. She still gets sent to her room for a time-out when she’s being inappropriate.” –iaincaradoc

“Seriously. My daughter is autistic and exceptionally kind. When she’s accidentally rude, I gently her know and she’s always genuinely very, very sorry and wants to make amends.”

“I know a LOT of autistic children and adults, including my grandpa, my husband, and several of my friends. None of them are a**holes.”

“Your sister isn’t an a**hole because she’s autistic, she’s an a**hole because she’s an a**hole.”

“Ironically, your parents are the ones being ableist because they think your sister is too stupid to act like a decent human.” –TooYoungToMary

“Agree. OP’s parents have enabled this behavior. OP’s sister seems very intelligent but she is still an AH. She is a bully.”

“She knows what she’s doing and can probably control it otherwise she would never have made it through four years of college.” –Careless-Image-885

“NTA. I may be wrong, but I think your parents have been doing your sister quite a disservice by writing off her being mean to you as a feature of her autism (not to mention ignoring emotional abuse of you).”

“Of course she won’t catch social cues easily but it seems like she has capacity to learn some methods to help that.”

“It’s not doing her any favors to not keep working on that… she’ll end up having more and more conflict in the future with others.” –screamscaper

Hopefully OP’s parents can learn from this and avoid conflict in the future.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.