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Woman Livid After Her Autistic Boyfriend’s Mom Berates Her For Encouraging Him To Try New Things

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While being the parent of a child with autism can be challenging, so is being a person with autism.

Sometimes the parent’s expectations don’t align with the child’s. But what if the parent’s expectations are too low and lash out when their child continually exceeds them?

A young woman dealing with an angry “autism mom” turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Redditor powderpinkparrot asked:

“AITA for encouraging my boyfriend with autism to try new things?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“‘Josh’ and I have been dating for just over a year. I won’t lie and say things have been easy as we’ve had miscommunication and all sorts but we’re in a good place now where we really understand each other.”

“When we started dating Josh mentioned different things he wishes he could try or do but felt he couldn’t because his autism and OCD. He asked if I would help him maybe try some small things so we have.”

“He’s always had issues with the texture of food, celery being one of them but I’ve managed to come up with a soup recipe where he actually likes celery in it.”

“Just small things like that.”

“The problem is a few weeks ago I made a comment that his socks had seen better days and he agreed but said the shop where he’s always bought them no longer makes the ones that feel right on. I asked him what it is about those socks that feel right and he said they had padded soles and felt tight around his toes with no loose bits or threads.”

“I asked him if I was to buy some different socks if he would try them to see if they are close enough. He said he was doubtful I’d find anything but agreed to try any I bought.”

“I found some with padded soles and bought the size smaller than he normally wears. He said they weren’t perfect on but close enough that he could wear them and was glad to no longer have holes in his socks.”

“Today we had a socially distanced BBQ at his parents house and he proudly showed his mum his new socks. She asked since when can he wear different socks and he explained.”

“She lost her sh*t at me. She said I can’t accept her son has autism and all I’m trying to do is change him.”

“She said the biggest thing that I’ve done that’s annoyed her is encouraged him to take driving lessons when ‘people with autism shouldn’t be behind a wheel’. She doesn’t think they have the right thinking and reactions to be behind the wheel.”

“My autistic friends that drive are all very safe drivers with no insurance claims so I know she’s talking bull. It’s so mentally draining having to listen to the things she thinks he should and shouldn’t be allowed to do.”

“She ranted about all the other things I’ve encouraged him to try.”

“I was lost for words because Josh is really proud of the things he’s managed to do. It’s his first relationship and he never thought he’d meet someone so his mum started ranting that he’s slept with the first girl that laid eyes on him and he’s not capable of knowing what true love is like.”

“I’ve always tried to be extremely respectful of Josh’s boundaries but now I’m wondering if I’m an a**hole for helping him try new things.”

“His mum said I’m no longer welcome at their house and she hopes his obsession with me is over soon.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

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

Redditors decided OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. I’m the parent of an autistic child. Your approach was respectful and thoughtful, and I would be delighted if my child found a partner like you.” ~ noodlesinmyramen

“I guess I should give up my driver’s license and perfect driving record just because I’m autistic…lol.”

“Like, yes, driving can be an overwhelming experience when you’re autistic, but it doesn’t mean no autistic person can drive.”

“I’d wager we’re probably safer drivers than average because we pay so much attention to what’s going on around us.” ~ uber18133

“Adults with autism really can’t stand parents like her. You did the right thing.”

“Who wants to be treated like a fragile doll?!” ~ SwiggyBloodlust

“You might remind him that his mother is subject to the same social rules as everyone else, point out that she’s the one who taught him that tantrums over socks are inappropriate, and mention that society’s rules do not apply to everyone but her.”

“Really break it down on a logical level. I seriously hate all the ‘autism moms’ who hold their kids back with this garbage, that’s why I haven’t belonged to a parent’s group since my adult son was 6.”

“You sound like a wonderful partner. NTA and good luck with what sounds like an awesome relationship.” ~ Elesia

“NTA. But Josh’s mom sounds like one of those ‘Autism Parents’ who are ableist as hell and treats their kids badly.”

“What you’re doing is helping Josh become independent so that he doesn’t have to rely on others. Keep going and make sure he knows that you’re backing him on his journey to independence.” ~ Kitsumekat

“OP I’M autistic and I would cuss this horrible woman out. Do you want to know WHY she reacted so poorly?”

“It’s because the more capable your BF becomes, the less she can pat herself on the back for how ‘brave’ and ‘special’ she is for overcoming the hardship of having a child with autism. NTA.” ~ Lunamkardas

“My 19yo is on the spectrum. He’s got a resume, just started tech school, has a job, is preparing to get his driver’s license, and has qualified for several internships.”

“Your BFs mom is unhelpful and unkind. He isn’t Autism, he’s a person.”

“I hope she recalibrates her personality before she drives her son away.” ~ omgwtfbbq_powerade

“I think you’re right, but in addition, every single time he accomplishes something new it serves as a reminder that she was the one holding him back.”

“She’d much rather believe that his issues were exclusively due to the autism and not her poor parenting skills – especially when the person who has actually helped him is the evil woman who stole away her precious baby boy.” ~ grapefruitmixup

“Mom is only upset because son is slowly cutting strings. His autism almost has nothing to do with it – read any stories of helicopter parents of even non-autistic kids and you’ll see the same behavior/reactions to an SO.”

“Also – I was honestly ready to go the other verdict, when I started to read – but everything you have done is with full consent from your BF.”

“And you’ve not pushed anything onto him and respected his timelines/boundaries, which is the most important thing.”

“NTA. You and ‘being an AH’ are not even in the same universe, OP.” ~ KeepLkngForIntllgnce

The OP returned with an update. 

“Thank you so much for all the kind comments. I’m trying my best to read through them all and sorry if I don’t reply.”

“Josh’s mum hasn’t spoken to him since yesterday and is giving him the silent treatment which is making him extremely anxious and upset as he can’t work out what he’s done wrong.”

“I’m trying to tell him he’s done nothing wrong and I’ve explained what some of you have said about it being a mum problem.”

“He says he’s always felt crowded by her growing up and wishes she wouldn’t treat him like he’s still a child who can’t cope with the world.”

“I’m not really sure how we’ll go forward with his mum but I know he can’t cope with her giving the silent treatment much longer as he’s determined he’s broken some sort of social rule by wearing new socks.”

“We really want to start looking at getting a house together soon but we don’t know how she’ll react to him moving out. He does stick up for me but when we get home to my house he then usually becomes overwhelmed as he feels wrong for standing up to her but also wants her to realize he’s not a child anymore.”

“When we first met she would still pick out his underwear for him every morning which he hated and eventually told her no.”

“He has an older brother who’s 15 years older than him and moved out at 18 years old so he’s basically been raised as an only child.”

“His mum says he was their ‘special little surprise’ because they had him that much older.”

“She actually has an ‘autism mum’ sticker on her car and really seems to thrive off talking about him being autistic rather than him just being a human being.”

If this couple wants a happy life and Josh wants to grow up, it will probably require some distance from his mom.

While Josh may have needed her as a young child, he’s no longer that dependent.

But mom is having a difficult time letting go. Josh will probably have to take the initiative and cut the cord.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.