This dad is sick and tired of his autistic son being excluded from the community
One of the worst aspects of mental health differences is societal exclusion. People at all levels of society, from friendships to institutions, may not treat a child with autism equally. That child, then, grows up excluded before they ever had a chance. One angry dad, named Shane Stephenson, has gotten sick and tired of seeing his son passed over time and time again by his own friends and peers.
Children with autism doesn't deserve to grow up alone and removed from society, not in the slightest. So this was taken very personally by his father, when he finally boiled over with frustration at his own community for not including his son in invitations to parties and other social events.
Shane's wife, Christine Stephenson, has shared his heartbreaking letter to his own friends:
The post reads:
"Right this has been brewing for some time so here it goes and you can like it or fucking well lump it. My son Reilly has autism not fucking leprosy; he is 6 years old and my so called friends who have kids also have kids parties. Not ONE invite not f***ing one. Think about that whilst you go and fuck yourselves; you have any idea how hurtful that is? Just for the record in future don't bother he's not an after thought he's my every f***ing thought."
Social exclusion, of course, begins at school. In the UK, up to 20,000 students with autism have been illegally placed on reduced school hours and are being excluded from classrooms. Jonathan Andrews, the chair of Ambitious About Autism's youth council, said:
"Not only do children with autism miss out on vital school time because of illegal exclusions, but by going unrecorded or reported the scale of the problem is hidden, making it harder for families to stand up for their children's rights.
"We know that illegal exclusions are commonplace, with 33 per cent of school leaders confirming that they knew at least one child with autism who had been excluded from their school illegally in the last year...
"Awareness of autism and other special educational needs among teachers is vital if we want to provide young people with autism a strong start in life, rather than repeating the examples of poor practice.
"It is only then that young people with autism can feel truly understood, avoid being excluded and stigmatised because of who they are; and grow up happy, confident, and able to both enjoy and make the most of their education, and to use the skills it grants to benefit society."
Socially, educationally and legally, autistic people are not being treated fairly. This brave dad spoke out, but we can only hope that the world will take notice. At least, hopefully his friends will start being inclusive. If you can't count on your friends to accept your own child, who can you count on?
What do you think of this? Are there students and children in your life who could use a hand, or someone to hang out with?