Raising a child with a disability poses a number of challenges.
Particularly, when you have multiple children.
It’s understandable that the child with the disability will likely get more attention, owing to their various medical and emotional needs.
As a result, even if it is not the parents’ intent, the other child will likely find themselves feeling neglected.
Such was sadly the case for the daughter of Redditor waltzingaway78, who grew up with an autistic brother.
With each passing year, the original poster (OP)’s daughter grew increasingly frustrated when she felt she was overlooked owing to her brother.
This led to a recent episode proving the final straw, and the OP discovering her daughter all but cut her out of her life.
Wondering if she really was worthy of such a punishment, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA? I missed my daughter’s award ceremony because of my son, she’s still not speaking to me.”
The OP explained how after missing an important event of her daughter’s owing to her son, she found herself rather unexpectedly out of her daughter’s life.
“This might be a bit long but thanks for reading.”
“I’ve been a single mom to two kids since they were 6 and 4.”
“Their dad passed away.”
“Around that time, my son was formally diagnosed as autistic.”
“He’s not very verbal and prone to physical outbursts when he has a meltdown.”
“He’s been in therapies of every kind for his entire life and it’s helped somewhat.”
“Their dad had a life insurance policy which allowed me to stay home as my son’s main caregiver while working freelance, but money was tight and finding anyone capable of watching him has always been a challenge.”
“My daughter was graduating from college last year.”
“A week before the ceremony, she had an awards ceremony for academic achievement.”
“I was obviously incredibly proud of her.”
“She asked me to come to it and I said I would.”
“Her college is two hours from here.”
“I hired a trained sitter who specializes in autism the day of the ceremony.”
“Right as I was about to leave, my son had a meltdown and was lashing out at the sitter.”
“I couldn’t leave, and he wasn’t calm for hours.”
“I’d left my daughter a voicemail saying I wasn’t going to be able to make it.”
“She called back that night absolutely livid.”
“She called me a shitty mother, said I had two kids but only cared about one, that I’d missed every game and performance she’d had as a child and it clearly wasn’t going to change as adults and that she was just done.”
“She said she knows he can’t help it, but her brother is incapable of showing empathy and it made it hard to be around him without resenting him.”
“She hung up and that was it.”
“I’ve barely spoken with her since.”
“She didn’t send tickets for the graduation we were supposed to go to the next week.”
“She hasn’t shown up for holidays and I’ve heard she’s engaged but didn’t call to tell me.”
“She’s cut us out, and in the one of three times we’ve spoken since, she said it’s easier for her to not have us around than be disappointed and that being alone at events is nothing new for her, she just doesn’t have to bother getting her hopes up I might come now.”
“I’ve offered family counseling and all other manner of things.”
“I know I wasn’t a perfect mom growing up.”
“I didn’t make it to her things, but not for lack of caring.”
“I’m heartbroken but I don’t think me not showing up in an emergency should have lost me my daughter forever.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
While the Reddit community was largely sympathetic to the OP’s situation, they otherwise agreed that they were, indeed, the a**hole for missing their daughter’s awards ceremony.
Everyone agreed that as the OP hired a sitter specifically qualified for her son’s condition, she should have gone to her daughter’s ceremony, as something could have just as easily happened after she had left.
“I know you’re hurt and I’m sure it was very difficult to be in your position, but you let your daughter down in a major way.”
“It wasn’t just this one emergency, it’s that it’s been everything for her whole life.”
“You hired a trained sitter, what would have happened if the meltdown happened 1 hour into your drive, would you have turned around or let the trained person you hired do their job?”
“She always comes last, so it’s easier to step back, I understand where she is coming from.”- hface84
“I hate to say this but YTA.”
‘My step son (SS) is autistic as well, but verbal and high functioning.”
“He manipulates my husband all the time, perfectly timed melt downs and other misbehaviors to get attention.”
‘The thing I have observed living with them is that SS doesn’t differentiate between good and negative attention, he only sees attention.”
“He will do whatever it takes to get said attention, even if its to allow himself to get into to a full meltdown.”
“We have worked really hard on not giving him negative attention or rewarding bad behaviors.”
“My husband didn’t even realize he had been rewarding the bad behaviors, because it was so engrained in him to give SS what he wanted to minimize the damage.”
“You cant give in to your son forever, it’s not realistic.”
“I understand how horrible meltdowns are, I have experienced many first had and I know its super easy for anyone who has not been in that situation to say walk away.”
“But you really need to walk away.”
“What will happen to your son when you are gone?”
“If a trained caregiver cant handle him during a meltdown what will his life without you be like?”
“My advice is to get counseling for yourself, to learn to set appropriate boundaries for yourself with your son.”
“Then go to your daughter and apologize for putting her second and lay out what steps you are taking to make sure this doesn’t ever happen again.”
“Its a tough road and Im so sorry you have to walk it alone.”
“The worst part is how little support there really is for this.”- secretcakeeater
“You got a specific sitter that could handle him for a reason.”
“You chose not to go and showed her that you’d rather be with him then her even when it’s not necessary.”- lightandsweetplease
“Oh my God.”
“She verbally annihilated you.”
“YTA though.”- Trytryagain17
“You sound like the stereotypical parent that has one special needs child and because of that child you neglect the needs of your other children because you always have an excuse.”
“the special needs child.’
“Sh*t you even have a special needs trained sitter and you still use it as an excuse to skip important things for your daughter.”
‘Sorry for your situation but after 18+ years you should have figured out how to manage things such that you can make it to important events for your daughter.”- xHeero
“You literally hired someone to calm him for you.”- neonriby
“I feel like either YTA or NAH.”
“Your daughter certainly isn’t the asshole, and your son isn’t either.”
“I think you’re missing the point.”
“It wasn’t you missing this one event that cost you the relationship.”
“It was a lifetime of missed events and broken promises leading up to it.”
“This was just the latest straw that finally broke the camels back.”- SecretSpookySkeleton
“As a sibling to an autistic kid, my parents always pay attention to them, and they always put me second.”- zobo52
‘Wasn’t an emergency, you said you hired someone who was trained to handle this.”
‘Unless the person was misrepresented, you chose your son over your daughter.”
“You have my deepest sympathy, but I think you handled that situation wrong.”
“You had it rough as a single mom with two kids, one with autism, and I’m sure you did the best you could.”
“At the same time, speaking as a parent of two children, one of whom is, like yours, insanely high maintenance / constant crisis / etc.”
“You still have to be a parent to both children.”
“And when you can’t do it well, as happens all too frequently when one of them is in constant crisis, you absolutely have to find a way to make it up to the other one.”
“And when you can’t do that, you still have to make sure that they know how much you love them and how much you respect their feelings, because it truly is not fair and they are not wrong to feel that way.”
“So while I don’t think you are an a**hole, I think YTA in this situation because you clearly have not done a good job at making sure your daughter felt loved and respected and valued. In the specific instance you mentioned, did the trained sitter say you couldn’t leave or was that your call?”
“If it was yours, you made the wrong decision and you need to tell your daughter that, and promise to make the right decisions in the future, and mean it.”
“Otherwise, I think she is right that she has suffered enough and you will continue hurting her.”-bigrottentuna
It’s second nature for parents to worry about their children.
So one can’t blame the OP for worrying about her son, and whether or not he could handle being left with a stranger.
That being said, the OP could have maybe worried a bit more about her daughter.
And how she felt every time she couldn’t be there for her owing to her son.
One can only hope the two of them will be able to patch up their relationship.