Raising a child can be challenging and requires a lot of patience, but raising a child with autism comes with quite a few additional concerns. Day-to-day struggles with an autistic child often involve situations that other parents may not consider.

Meet Shane Stevenson. He’s the proud father of six-year-old Reilly. Reilly is autistic and non-verbal. Like many other fathers, Shane has a group of friends who also have children around Reilly’s age. Their kids are beginning to have playdates, sleepovers and birthday parties.

It’s very common for school-aged children to begin having birthday celebrations with their classmates. However, it seems that not one “friend” invited Reilly to a single party. Parents are excluding Shane’s son from their children’ social events simply because he has autism.

This was heartbreaking for Shane, who, like any parent, just wants his son to be happy. Reilly has feelings and likes to play with other children just like any kid his age does. To exclude him because he is autistic is incredibly hurtful.

The activities at a young child’s birthday would include activities that all six-year-olds would be able to enjoy. There would be no reason to exclude Reilly. His autism would in no way impact his ability to participate in a children’s party.

Reilly’s dad, Shane, had had enough. He could no longer stand by and let other parents treat his son with such disrespect. Their behaviour was also teaching their own children that it would be acceptable to exclude Reilly in the future, and that he was “different”.