Raising a child who is neurodivergent is a difficult experience. When you and your child see the world in different ways, it can be frustrating to relate. But so long as everyone is treated with love and care, and a lot of effort is made, things can work out.
Redditor Vivid-Occasion-7180 knows how difficult things can be for her son in large groups, with loud noises. To try and prevent the issues that may arise with him during her wedding, the original poster (OP) decided to have him cared for that day at home instead of coming.
However her ex-husband doesn’t like this idea, and claims she’s being a bad parent. OP isn’t sure, and asks the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit what they think.
“AITA for having a big wedding that one of my children can’t attend”
This is what happened:
“I have 2 kids, a neurodivergent son with my first husband and a neurotypical daughter with my fiancé.”
“We are planning a big wedding for the fall and have decided not to bring our son because he hates strangers, noise, bright lights, and changes in routine. Instead, he’s going to stay home and do a normal day with one of his favorite caretakers.”
“It will be a little tough for him because my fiancé and I won’t be there, but much less bad than taking him to a bright crowded noisy place.”
“I asked my ex to watch our son for that day. My ex is not available that day but is very upset that I’m leaving my son home but including my daughter.”
“My ex thinks I’m setting them up for resentment and I’m favoring my daughter. I understand I’m not putting my son first for one day, but this wedding is really important for me, and any wedding of any size would be an issue for him.”
“We tried to include him as best we could with a little wedding themed family photo shoot with everyone dressed up which was really fun, but my ex still says that I’m being a bad parent. AITA for having a big wedding even though it’s a special day that my son will be left out of?”
To provide more clarity, OP answered some of the comments.
“INFO: does your son have the capacity to share how he feels about this? Have you talked with your son about this and tried to understand how he feels?” – DumbSpearoSparrow
“He is non verbal” – Vivid-Occasion-7180 (OP)
“That does not mean he is incapable of input.” – Mammoth_Ad1374
“He is incapable of communicating. He does not speak, sign, or communicate beyond showing emotions. We only know what he likes and prefers depending on his emotional reactions. “
“He does not understand what we are saying to him beyond a few basic words.” – Vivid-Occasion-7180 (OP)
The AITA board listens to people’s stories and judges them based on their choices.
This is done with one of the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
To many, it can feel cruel to leave one child out of a special day while inviting and involving the other. But if anyone knows OP’s son well enough to determine whether he can handle a wedding, it’s going to be OP.
The board voted that OP was NTA.
“I would argue that you are actually putting your son first by being conscious of his needs and not putting him in a situation he would hate and that the stress of which might ruin an otherwise joyous occasion for him, you, your fiance, your daughter, and anyone else that might have to comfort him instead of just enjoying the festivities.”
“Your ex can go piss up a rope.” – sylviaca
“NTA. You know your son better than anyone and if you know it’ll cause him immense stress as well as causing you and your family immense stress, so much so that it would have a significant impact on your big day then I think you are pretty much right in leaving him home for the day.”
“This doesn’t mean you guys can’t have a smaller celebration with just you guys. The people calling you an asshole aren’t thinking about the fact that he is neurodivergent and would be overwhelmed and very unhappy at the wedding.”
“As long as you get him his favorite activities and maybe some food he loves, then it seems like he would feel much safer and happier at home!” – ecul034
“NTA. You have to make accommodations for your neurodivergent son, and that’s totally fine, especially considering he’s non-communicative save for emotions.”
“Exposing him to a big event that you *know* will overwhelm him would be irresponsible. Regardless of what some people might think, it’s REALLY OKAY to step away and have a day for yourself.”
“That goes for ANY person with a child, regardless of their developmental state. It’s just the developmental state makes it a little different how you include/exclude them from events.” – Seventeen_Serpents
“NTA The ex is just plain wrong. On so many levels.”
“The child cannot handle crowds, noises, or high activity levels and doesn’t have a way to clearly and immediately express himself in ways that will be understood readily by most people.”
“I have an anxiety disorder that makes large gatherings kind of unpredictable for me—I might be fine and have a wonderful time, I might spend the entire event white knuckling and searching for a dog or cat to hang with, or I might be mostly fine but need to excuse myself to reset a few times.”
“I am an adult with the ability to monitor myself, advocate for my own needs and comfort and can safely go off by myself to find a quiet place. Because I am an adult, nobody is going to try to physically stop me from making an exit.”
“None of this is true for this child. There will inevitably be guests who want to engage with the child who don’t understand his needs or tics.”
“It sounds like torture for the child.”
“Also, the parents of children who have special needs deserve a day off once in a while—they’re still people, too. Their child is not their whole identity.”
“The bride and groom deserve to have a wedding that isn’t centered on the needs of her neurodivergent son. I don’t know how old the children are, but it’s also possible that the daughter deserves a day during which she’s not asked to accommodate her brother’s needs.”
“The able-bodied and neurotypical siblings of kids with special needs often live with a lot of limits and the certainty that their own wishes and inclinations will often have to be postponed or denied due to their sibling’s condition (whatever it may be).”
“With the exception of the ex, everyone is best served here by letting the child have a regular day instead of forcing him to attend an event that will be overwhelming.” – rapt2right
“NTA!!! My son is similar and if I know he’ll be miserable then he doesn’t go. My son would much rather stay with one of his grandparents or a close family member he trusts than to go somewhere he’ll be miserable.”
“And for those who say you need to get input from your son, you know him better than the keyboard warriors and you are doing the right thing by not putting him in a situation that would be negative to him.”
“Tell your ex to go fly a kite.” – southrnbelle128
“NTA. Ex just wants to cause problems. If he’s so concerned, he can take care of his own son on that day.” – Sciencegirl117
“NTA There’s even neurotypical people who prefer to stay home as opposed to bright, noisy, events like weddings.”
“I’d say leave him at home, and have a nice quiet celebration with him and his favorite foods later, so he can be included in a safe and special way.”
“Your ex just wants to nitpick and call you a bad mother and make you feel bad about remarrying. Because he’s your ex, and that’s what exes do.”
“Even if you are on good terms with your ex, there’s a lot of frustrated psychology behind seeing an ex move on.” – SpitefulBadger
“As someone who has worked with individuals with Developmental Disabilities for nearly a decade: NTA.”
“Depending on your son’s comfort/wishes, let him participate in whatever activities he can or is comfortable with.”
“You have gone out of your way to make sure he will be comfortable as opposed to forcing him to attend an event that you know would make him very very uncomfortable.” – FlySkyHigh777
Other commenters still tried to find some way to have the son attend the wedding.
OP assured them she knew her son well enough to determine what he could handle.
Her question wasn’t whether she should bring her son, it was whether she was the jerk for going through with it anyway.
But that didn’t keep some commenters from saying the son could possibly attend.
“This needs far more information than just that your son is neurodivergent and non-verbal to judge what is appropriate. Probably more information than should be shared on a public forum.”
“But I’ve known people who were neurodivergent and nonverbal who enjoyed things like weddings. I’ve known some who could enjoy such an event with modification – e.g., have their preferred caretaker bring him to the wedding, he participates in some parts of it, but there is a quiet room that he can go to with the caretaker if he needs it, and the reception may or may not be appropriate. I’ve also know some people for whom it would be living hell to be dragged to this type of gathering.”
“I know that there is generally a lot of encouragement to include in everything. But there also needs to be respect for his right to say ‘no’, even if that ‘no’ is communicated through behavior rather than words.”
“E.g. at one group home for developmentally disabled adults that I worked with, they arranged a summer camp for the residents every year. One resident at this home was very, very severely autistic and intellectually disabled. She’d never be able to say ‘no, I don’t want to go.’ Year after year, she got brought along, because she ‘shouldn’t be excluded’ and ‘didn’t refuse to go.’”
“After several years of seeing her go days without eating, drinking or sleeping, because she could not tolerate the change in her routine, I wound up taking a stand at a staff meeting when camp was being planned, and said that her reaction to the camp in the past should be considered a refusal to attend future camps, and her routine should not be disrupted.”
“It was dangerously unhealthy for her to be so upset as to not be able to eat, drink or sleep in an accessible, but not air conditioned, campground (designed by a local Rotary to be used by groups hosting camps for disabled individuals) in the middle of August.”
“So it’s something you’ve got to make a call on, depending on what you’ve seen your son be like at similar events in the past.”
“But remember it isn’t a go/no-go decision. There are ways to include him that also allow him his own space and time to meet his needs. Be creative, and ask for ideas from his teachers and caretakers, who may know things you haven’t thought of.” – Jazzlike_Humor3340
“I have already said that he cannot handle the wedding environment. I know my son and what he can handle.”
“He would end up spending the whole time in a quiet room and would still have a meltdown because that’s not part of his routine.” – Vivid-Occasion-7180 (OP)
“Y’all would be singing a totally different tune if she had posted something like ‘my son has sensory issues and being at my wedding brought him a lot of pain and fear but I forced him to come because it’s my special day’.” – askboo
OP is doing the right thing by not forcing her son to go to the wedding. But the question is whether she should have had the big wedding to begin with.
The answer to that will depend on a lot of factors, especially ones that vary from person to person. But if the caretaker and son have a good day, and OP enjoys her wedding, what is the harm?