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College Student Called ‘Cold-Hearted’ For Giving Autistic Classmate A ‘Hard Task’ During Group Project

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People tend to underestimate others far too easily.

Sometimes based on a preconceived notion, we tend to assume that certain people aren’t up to a certain task or skill, despite never having even given them the opportunity to try.

As a result, not only are these individuals deprived of trying a new experience, but others might also learn far too late that they missed out on being helped by people with surprising talents.

Owing to a medical condition, it was often assumed that a classmate of Redditor Virgin_Marriage wasn’t as qualified for some more difficult tasks or duties when it came to class projects.

But when the original poster (OP) found themselves paired up with this classmate, they found themselves more than comfortable delegating some difficult duties upon her.

Something the OP’s other classmates felt was a “cold-hearted” thing to do”.

Wondering if they were in the wrong, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for giving a “hard task” to an autistic girl?”

The OP explained how despite their classmates’ warnings, they found their partner on a project to be an invaluable contributor.

“I am 20 years old and currently attending college.”

“In one of my classes there is a girl on the autism spectrum, I’ll call her Melissa.”

“I had never interacted much with her but recently we ended up in a group project together.”

“Our group divided itself into duos to do each part of our project and I ended up with Melissa.”

“Another member of our group told me to only give Melissa the easy tasks due to her ‘condition’.”

“Not wanting any trouble, I went along with it and gave her only the easy tasks.”

“We were working in the library and she very quickly finished her job.”

“I was still working.”

“A couple minutes pass and she mustered all her courage to ask one simple question: ‘I already finished here, can I help you?’.”

“I tried telling her I could handle it on my own but a few minutes of silence later she talked again.”

“‘I don’t like group projects’.”

“‘Every time the group never lets me participate properly, like I am incapable’.”

“‘It upsets me’.”

“Her expression was blank as she said it but she was, well, clearly upset.”

“I empathized with her at that moment, it must be frustrating to be treated as lesser because of the way you were born.”

“I then asked for her help and passed some tasks on to her.”

“Although her expression was blank, I felt like her eyes were sparking with joy.”

“So with her participation we ended things much faster.”

“The next day we submitted our part of the project to the group and they got mad at me for giving her a ‘hard task’ she ‘couldn’t fulfill’.”

“They called me selfish and cold-hearted although Melissa clearly wanted to participate.”


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

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was in no way the a**hole for giving Melissa a hard task.

Everyone agreed that the Melissa had more than proven her capabilities, and the OP’s other classmates simply misunderstood what it means to be on the autism spectrum, a far too common problem.

“Melissa is attending college.”

“Melissa passed the exact same entrance boards that you and everyone else did in order to get into that college.”

“This means that she is perfectly capable of doing the work necessary to get a degree.”

“If she couldn’t, she wouldn’t have passed the entrance boards.”

“It seems to me that you’re the only one of her classmates that has looked past her autism and allowed her to be an actual student.”

“You’re the only one of her classmates that has allowed Melissa to determine what her limitations are and not forcing limitations on her.”

“So no.”

“NTA.”- halfwaygonetoo


“From your post, it seems that she did fulfill the tasks you gave her.”

“Also, it doesn’t seem like she felt overwhelmed.”

“From what you said, she asked for more tasks and was happy to do them/ did them efficiently.”-Fun_Computer_8401


“Thank you for listening!”

“So, SO many people just ignore what we autistic folk have to say because they think they know better than us.”

“I’m proud of Melissa for sticking up up for herself a well, that takes guts.”

“This is a good example of why functioning labels don’t work.”

“Melissa has been labeled ‘low-functiong’, and so everyone around her thinks she can’t do anything for herself.”
“The truth is the autism spectrum isn’t ‘most to least autistic’.” I

“t’s a lot more nuanced.”- Amazing_Excuse_3860

“NTA who the hell are these random people to tell Melissa or you what her limitations are?”

“This is ableism at its absolute worst.”

“She vocalized to you that their type of behavior bothers her and told you herself what she believed she could accomplish.”

“And it sounds like she did a fine job.”

“Your classmates are AHs on every level here.”- chefboyardeejr


“Just because someone is autistic doesn’t mean they should be left out or seen as incapable.”

“They may have trouble with some things but in general Treat this person the same as you would any other person.”- Z_a_l_g_o


“The taught mindset of people with disabilities not being able to do certain tasks is harmful, dehumanizing, and excludes them from being helpful or a part of the team.”

“People without limbs can run marathons, people in wheelchairs can play basketball, and so on.”

“Just because someone is visibly disabled does not mean they are not capable of being intelligent, talented or useful to the team.”

“The other teammates are the AH because they are stereotyping, being judgmental, and choosing to treat others without respect or seeing them for who they are.”

“Easy tasks are insulting, they should be asking for what the disabled person wants to do.”

“If they need help wait til they ask or get consent.”

“Thank you op for giving them a chance.”- SnowPandaPython

:As someone who is Autistic I can 100% say that you are NTA in this situation.”

“She said that ‘every the group never lets me participate properly, like I am incapable, it upsets me’.”

“And you listened to her and did what she asked.”

“I am smiling right now at how kind you were to this girl, thank you for being an ally OP.”-Common_Exam_1401


“Tell your fellow students that clearly she WAS capable of doing hard tasks, because she DID them.”

“Autistic does not mean intellectually challenged, many autistic people are highly gifted.”- Katja1236

“I see the word ‘ableist’ thrown out here a lot when it shouldn’t be.”

“In this case, your group was.”

“You did well.”

“NTA.”- Major_Barnacle_2212

“Clearly she’s capable.”

“She’s in your class.”

“One of your other peers instructed you on how they thought you should work together.”

“You worked it just fine for both of you.”

“She clearly can do your work as well.”

“Good on you both.”

“I hope you made a friend of her.”

“People hear ‘autistic or on the spectrum’ and make massive, incorrect, assumptions.”

“NTA at all.”- dinahdog

“Obviously NTA.”

“Why are they treating her like she’s incapable of doing anything else than the easy tasks?”

“Melissa wanted to do something more challenging and not being an AH you let her.”-AngryGoose02


“She wanted to do the work and you provided said work.”

“She was probably ecstatic that you included her and didn’t tell her off because she is autistic.”

“You treated her like a human being, not a condition.”

“Bravo.”- rjhancock


“Thank you for treating her like an adult and more importantly A PERSON!”

“Your group mates should be ashamed of themselves for assuming she’s not capable without even asking her how much she can handle.”- ColdSeason2019

“Obviously NTA.”

“The only person who could deem you A H in this situation would be Melissa and it seems pretty clear that she wanted to participate more fully.”

“You are the only one who bothered to listen.”

“If you have to work with this group further you should make it clear that she is capable and should share equally in the work until she says otherwise.”- Few_Recover_6622

“Why are they saying she could not fulfill the task if you said with her help you finished quicker?”

“NTA.”- agonyandhope

“Very firmly NTA.”

“I am amazed by the level of ignorance some people display and their apparent unwillingness to educate themselves.”

“There is a reason it is called autism spectrum disorder and if she’s in college, she’s clearly high-functioning.”

“That means she has most of the same capabilities as you and everyone else there and may only have some difficulties or different abilities in some specified areas.”

“Honestly, it would probably be best to ask her what her autism diagnosis means for her, if she wants to talk about it, because even on the high-functioning spectrum, not one autism ‘case’ is like the other.”

“She must feel awful being stigmatized just because of a misunderstood diagnosis.”- AdSweet5748

One has to wonder if deep-down, the OP’s classmates don’t realize that they’re the “cold-hearted” ones.

Assuming Melissa was incapable because of her condition, without even giving her the chance to prove herself.

Perhaps the inevitable good mark this group will get on their project will open their eyes, and they will give Melissa more opportunities to shine going forward.

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'.