Therapy can be incredibly helpful for neurodivergent kids. And, spending time with other kids their age can also help a lot. But, it must be done in a safe and comfortable environment for everyone involved.
Redditor aitasisternep encountered this very issue with their nephew. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA For prioritizing my child over my autistic nephew?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“My daughter is six, my nephew is twelve. He’s a very loud child, and his meltdowns are frequent.”
“If you set out his dinner and the knife, fork and plate aren’t set exactly straight he could go on screaming for three hours.
He is in several types of therapy, but they don’t seem to be helping too much.”
“My sister has reported that he’s been getting worse in some areas.”
“He has started a new therapist, and she is asking that he spend time with some other, neurotypical children, so he can hopefully pick up behaviors with them.”
“She contacted me and asked if I’d set up a playdate for him and my daughter.”
OP’s daughter was not really excited about the idea.
“The thing is, my daughter is terrified. He scares her. Excessive screaming and yelling, he’ll sometimes throw things at the walls during meltdowns, throw himself to the ground.”
“His parents have very little control when he gets to this point, so it’s a waiting game.”
“She doesn’t ever want to see him. If I ever mention seeing him she’ll start crying, get upset, and she’ll repeat how much she hates him and wishes he would leave and never see her again.”
“I am not going to force her to see him.”
“Honestly, as much as it sounds awful, I don’t really want him in my house either. Last time he was here he left my house in disarray.”
“I literally had to replace my entire bathroom door.”
OP’s sister is now blaming them for the failed therapy.
“My sister is upset – my daughter is the only neurotypical child she knows that she trusts enough to be around him. She hasn’t outright said it, but I’ve heard from our other sister that she’s now blaming me for the failing therapy.”
“I feel awful myself.”
“I know this is the last therapist they’re trying before they go full ABA. If this doesn’t work, they’re going all out.”
“If that doesn’t work my sister has stated that they’ll drop him off at an ‘institution’ and leave him there.”
“I cant help but feel like I’m dooming him. But I do need to put my own child first.”
“My sister is holding ABA for him over my head, essentially stating that him going through ABA will be my fault. But my daughter is much happier now that I’ve confirmed she wont have to see him.”
“I’m stuck. I feel like a crappy person either way. Am I the a**hole?”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA – If she explained the situation with your daughter to any qualified therapist, the therapist would immediately tell your sister to stop badgering you over this. So either your sister hasn’t explained the situation properly, or the therapist is a hack.” ~ iwanttoquitposting
“I was wondering about the quality of that advice – it seems so unsafe to just have playdates without any professionals there to help support redirecting the nephew’s behavior….surely that’s not sane advice.” ~ No-Policy-4095
“It didn’t seem very safe, but I think they want the first one without any professionals present with the parents recording, so the therapist can properly understand the situation.” ~ aitasisternep
“I think this is unethical, at least in my country, a child it is a minor so they can’t give the permission to be harassed and to be film while this happens. Also at that age this really lead to traumas. I really doubt this therapist.” ~ Ahsoka88
“The age difference here is also insane. A six year old girl is not the right person to have a playdate with a 12 year old boy. If the advice of the playdate is really important, then sister needs to find a boy around her child’s age and size.” ~ AngeloPappas
Many were wondering why the therapist would suggest the playdate without being there themselves.
“If they’re raised to have any kind of compassion, it shouldn’t be a problem. My 11 yo son often plays with my friend’s 11yo, who is severely disabled, when our families get together.”
“He just does what’s fun for her – pushing her in a swing, or he does weird stuff to make her laugh, like last time I saw them he was throwing pillows up in the air, letting them crash onto his face and pretending that stunned him and falling to the ground, things like that. He likes to make people laugh, so it’s fun for him, too.”
“The kid screaming at a family dinner doesn’t mean he’s like that all the time. Lots of people + expectations = stress, and the crooked spoon was the straw that broke the camel’s back and it all came out. Maybe he’d be different if it was one kid, and they were playing frisbee or something.”
“I completely agree that a six-year-old isn’t the right playmate, though. NTA” ~ Grateful-Butterfly
“When I was 12 people my age were aware of disabilities and often formed school-based friendships with those kids. We also volunteered our time to hang out with/help them.”
“Not all of us, but it’s not fair to say the average 12 year old wouldn’t give this kid a shot in short periods.”
“If it’s that hard to find an empathetic 12 year old then either their community is falling majorly short on resources for disabled people or mom didn’t put real effort into looking or socializing her kid before this point.” ~ Adept_Award_3046
“And op’s daughter is half is age and probably about half his size, so if/when he gets violent she has no chance to defend herself and that is extreme traumatizing to a small child. Even with parents present this doesn’t sound like a safe situation.”
“I would also like to note that modern ABA therapy with a good therapist isn’t the same as the torturous method old school ABA was. Modern ABA with a good therapist might actually be very very helpful for op’s nephew, but the sister will have to put some work into finding the right therapist.” ~ Snarky-Norwegian
OP should talk to their sister about their reasoning and maybe help her find a better alternative.