Mum Shares Hurt After Son With Autism Excluded From Wedding, But Older Siblings Invited

"I am so hurt and upset over this, that one of my children is being left out of essentially a big family event!"
Jena Ardell via Getty Images

A mum has revealed her dismay after her youngest child, who has autism, wasn’t invited to her brother’s wedding – but her older children were.

The angry parent took to Mumsnet to share how her brother is getting married and she’s one of the bridesmaids at the wedding.

She said the older two of her three children had also been invited to be part of the bridal party, however her youngest son – who has autism, and is a teenager – hadn’t been invited to the day ceremony.

“I’ve been told he can come after the ceremony and after food,” she said.

“I am so hurt and upset over this, that one of my children is being left out of essentially a big family event!

“It’s being done on the pretence of this is best for him… without consulting with us, his parents. The groom doesn’t spend any time with said son, so has no idea on what’s best and what’s not!”

The parent said her brother can’t see that he’s done anything wrong and said, if anything, her son will struggle more with the evening part of the wedding, as it’ll be noisier with more drunk people.

The post was shared on Mumsnet’s Am I Being Unreasonable thread – and it’s safe to say lots of parents didn’t think she was being unreasonable at all.

“I would also be exceptionally hurt by this,” said one parent. “As a SEN [special educational needs] mum my heart aches for you.”

Another mum suggested the groom should’ve spoken to his sister before making the decision. “You know your child and what they can / can’t cope with – and, you are not going to put him through anything difficult,” she said. “It’s a shitty thing for them to have done.”

So, what should she do?

“Being left out can feel devastating, even more so to a parent whose child is left out,” says therapist and Counselling Directory member, Jennifer Warwick.

“Initially, it’s essential to acknowledge your feelings and recognise they are perfectly valid. Then it is easier to take a step back to help you find some perspective.

Both Warwick and fellow Counselling Directory member, Amy Baglietto, suggest a conversation needs to be had with the brother. But – while easier said than done – they suggest the mum needs to approach it with an open mind, calmly and measuredly.

“It helps to go into this with an open mind to discover the brother’s thoughts behind this decision. Was this from him? Presumably, there would have been some input from the bride too,” says Warwick.

Baglietto recommends having an “honest and empathetic conversation” with the brother about why her child wasn’t invited and what accommodations he needs to attend the wedding.

Amongst all of this talk, it’s important for the mum to share with the brother how the exclusion made her feel too, says Warwick, but from a centred and calm position.

“Going in all guns blazing will not be helpful to the mum or her brother, or her son. Go in with a curious mindset, wanting to discover what led to this decision,” says the therapist.

“There could be an opportunity for the uncle to get to know his nephew a little better.

“There’s a lot in the media about autism currently, and mostly it is positive. However, there are still a lot of old, incorrect and unhelpful stereotypes out there. Giving the uncle some opportunity to learn how great his autistic nephew is could provide space for a lovely positive relationship to grow.”

And what about the son?

In amongst all this drama, it’s so important for the parent to check in with her son and how he’s feeling.

“The child may feel left out and may even develop feelings of inferiority or worthlessness,” says Baglietto.

“It is important for the mother to reassure her child that they are loved and valued, regardless of any exclusion from family events.”

If she hasn’t done already, it might also be helpful to sit down with the son and ask whether attending this wedding – which could be a long and drawn-out event – is going to work for him.

The therapist continues that the mum also needs to look after herself during this time.

“It can be difficult to navigate conflicts within the family, especially when it involves her own sibling,” says Baglietto. “The mother should prioritise her own emotional well-being and seek support from friends or a therapist if needed.”