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Mom Irate After Daughter Is Assigned As ‘Mandatory Friend’ To Autistic Classmate At Summer Camp


Kids grow up so fast.

Which is why it is very important to make sure that kids have plenty of time to be kids.

Which isn’t to say that children don’t need to learn about responsibility, or can run amok without consequences.

But they also shouldn’t be forced into adult roles and duties they aren’t prepared for either.

Redditor Calm-Hurry8589 was worried that her daughter was facing this problem at their home, and made sure that she still had fun outside of the house by signing her up for a day camp she knew she would like.

But the original poster (OP) was outraged to learn that the camp tasked her daughter with extra responsibilities without consulting her first, and made her displeasure at the matter known.

After being scolded by her husband for her behavior, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling a fellow mother of a special needs child that my daughter is not responsible for her child?”

The OP first shared a bit about their home life, and the extra responsibilities that her daughter had to undertake from time to time.

“I have two children who we’ll call Maria (14 F[emale]) and David (7 M[ale]) David is on the autism spectrum.”

“He is non-vocal and requires a fair bit of specialized care.”

“Since his birth, Maria has had to take on a partial caring role for David for a variety of reasons.”

“I make sure that this is not to an extent where she is taking care of him, however.”

“Just enough so that she can help out while not losing out on her own life and experiences as a child.”

“Unfortunately, this does not always work out as intended and sometimes Maria does have to step up when I and my husband fail.”

“But, I always make sure to make it up to her and reward her for the time she helps us out like I would a normally paid caretaker.”

As a reward for going above and beyond at home, the OP enrolled her daughter in a day camp she knew she would like, but was furious to learn that her daughter was not having the same experience as the other campers.

“This summer, I enrolled Maria in a summer art program.”

“She had been looking forward to it for months and was ecstatic on the first day.”

“This enthusiasm quickly turned sour and she stopped wanting to go after only the first two weeks.’

“This was because Maria was essentially assigned to watch over a girl we’ll call Helen.”

“Helen is a girl who is also on the autism spectrum.”

“I know Helen’s mother personally, and when she learned that her daughter and mine were going to be in the same art classes over the summer she asked the organizers personally to essentially assign Maria to be Helen’s mandatory friend over the summer.”

“Over the first two weeks, Maria was essentially burdened with Helen.”

‘She spent a good chunk of the class time helping Helen out with her own projects instead of being able to work on her own.”

“She also at one point had to help one of the teachers out when Helen began to have an anxiety attack and did not get to do any art the entire day.”

‘When I learned of this, I was livid.”

“I contacted the organizers of the art program and went off, demanding my money back and threatening to report them for having a student, and a minor at tha, responsible for the care of a special needs child.”

“They let it slip to me that Helen’s mother told them that I and her were close friends, which is not the case.”

“I called Helen’s mother up as well and went off.”

“Demanding to know where she got the nerve to ruin my child’s own experience and treat her like a caretaker for her own child.’

“She claimed that Helen wanted to do the art program but she was afraid that she would not be able to do it alone, that Maria had experience with special needs children and that she felt safe with her being next to Helen’s side.”

“She then yelled at me, called me a heartless a**hole, and said that I should know where she was coming from.”

“I got my money back Monday and am looking into private art tutoring options for Maria.”

“When my husband learned what happened, he lost it.’

“Said that I should be understanding of Helen’s mother considering our own situation.”

“So now I’m second-guessing myself.”

“My husband is not mad at me for pulling Maria from the class or being mad about her being used as a caretaker.”

“He agrees that was wrong and is not happy about it.”

“What he got mad about was me calling Helen’s mom and confronting her.”

“His point of ‘being understanding to her’ was not about Maria being a caretaker for Helen.”

“It was about Helen’s mom asking in the first place.”

“He does not agree with the way the class handled it at all, and he supports me in taking this issue all the way to the top.”

“What he is mad about is dropping Helen’s mom in and fighting with her personally.”

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
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was not at all the a**hole for scolding the camp or Helen’s mother.

Everyone agreed that Maria was burdened with a lot of unfair responsibilities that no child should have to do, and the camp and Helen’s mom should have at least consulted with the OP first.


“Helen’s mother, AH, ruined the art program for your daughter.”

“She essentially demanded that Maria work as an unpaid caregiver instead of an arts program participant.”

“Maria needed a break from helping with her brother.”

“Instead, she ended up dealing with yet another special needs child.”

“The people running the art program are also AH for allowing this situation.”

“I think you had every right to tell Helen’s mother off.”

“What she did was outrageous.”- Paevatar

“I am going NTA.”

“Could you have been kinder?”


“Did you have to be?”


“It would be a different story if sh had called and ask… but just supposing and then contacting the organizers was a huge a**hole move.”

“If she thought it wouldn’t have been an issue, she would have asked you.”

“She knew what she was doing was wrong.”- vcatacarte


“Let me count the ways:”

“Maria is a minor and it should be up to the staff to help Helen not her.”

“This decision was done without your knowledge or approval.”

“Helen’s mother overstated her relationship (lied) to get her child better treatment.”

“Helen’s mother took away an exciting experience for your daughter.”

“Yes the care of a child should fall on the parents, but being an older sibling means you end up being a stop gap caretaker especially with special needs kids.”

“No matter how on top of things you could be there will still be missed moments or times where you need help or at least one more sets of hands and eyes.”

“Its emotionally draining as you know and even more so for a teenager.”

“No offense to you or your situation, but there is a good chance Maria was looking forward to a break from taking care of her brother.”

“Sadly that was taken away from her by Helen’s mom and the camp staff.”

“Good on you for sticking up for your daughter.”

“She can still be sympathetic to Helen’s moms plight and still call the woman out for ruining OPs daughter’s experience for her own.”

“Still NTA.”- cikanman


“While accommodations should be made for Helen, that should be done by the adults running the camp.”

“It was incredibly irresponsible of the camp to use a 14 yo camper as a classroom aid for another student.”

“Your daughter is not employed by the camp or Helen’s mother, she is a child herself.”

‘Your daughter has every right to be a child and enjoy her art program.”

“You can be understanding of the position Helen’s mother was in without sacrificing your own daughter’s happiness to fix it.”

“Not to mention Helen’s mother went behind your back and lied to the camp at your daughter’s expense.”

“And the camp went along with it without checking with you.”

“I find it pretty concerning that your husband was so solidly sided with Helen’s mom.”

“You might want to have a one on one conversation with your daughter to make sure your husband isn’t having her provide more care for your son than you realize.”- Forward_Squirrel8879


“It is not your daughters job to take care of any child let alone one she barely knows in an art program where she should be learning and doing art not doing the job of the adults running the program.’

“You are protecting your daughter and not letting other adults parentify her.”

‘Keep it up.”- Fainora

Out of line as she was, one can sympathize with Helen’s mother, who was clearly worried about her daughter.

But that the camp wouldn’t even think to check with the OP, even with the false claim from Helen’s mother that they were good friends was shockingly irresponsible.

Not as shocking, however, than the fact that they didn’t see how unfair this would be to Maria in the first place.

Here’s hoping that Maria could enjoy the rest of her summer, and have time to just be a kid.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.