He just wants his son to make friends
Shane and Christine Stephenson are the proud parents of two boys. They have an 11-year-old son named Ellis and a six-year-old son named Reilly. Reilly is autistic and non-verbal, but the bright-eyed, curly-haired child is curious about the world and loves to interact with it.
As their boys grew up, Shane and Christine realized that Reilly wasn’t getting invited to their friends’ children’s parties. The people they thought cared about them also didn’t show up to their son’s parties, and they felt like they needed to address the sad situation.
How Dare You
Christine said that Shane is usually a reserved man, but he sent a “huge, sweary rant” to his friends and family in a text message that was born out of his pure frustration over the situation. He wrote to his “so-called” friends:
“My son Reilly has autism not f**king leprosy; he is six years old and my so-called friends who have kids also have kids’ parties. Not ONE invite, not f**king one. Think about that whilst you go f**k yourselves; have you any idea how hurtful that is?”
He told them not to bother inviting Reilly to their events as an “after thought” because Shane knew they just didn’t care about Reilly, Shane’s “every thought.”
Christine posted the text on her Twitter page called “The Life of Reilly” about the struggles they face dealing with an autistic child, and the feedback they received was a total surprise.
Tons of Support
After receiving thousands of tweets and messages from all over the world, the parents realized that many autistic children are excluded from the lives of those close to them.
“We have the same problem with my nephew, never gets party invites because he has autism and one birthday no school friends turned up,” Twitter user @MILLIEMCBRIDExx said.
User @BurgessKristel applauded the father’s strong words. “Well done and well said to your husband! I’m a mum to four special needs children, two with autism, and none of them are ever invited to parties either,” they wrote.
Reilly started getting invitations to go to parties for other children who were like him, some who just wanted him to be there, to go on motorcycle rides, and even to visit a celebrity’s grandchild. Actress Kirstie Alley tweeted the family, “Dearest Reilly, you are invited to my house any day, and I will throw you a party for kings. The lemurs & my grandson, Waylon, await you.”
Christine told the Chronicle about the unexpected response she received:
“The messages that I’ve had back on Twitter have been overwhelming, literally thousands of people have contacted me, and it’s a common theme, everybody says ‘it happens to me.’ You shouldn’t judge people, because you just don’t know what their circumstances are.”
The parents created a social media firestorm, and were invited onto the British show This Morning to talk about the incredible support they’ve received. Shane was asked about what happened after he sent that text to his friends, and he answered, “I haven’t had anything negative. Hopefully the message got out there, and hopefully if it can do good for families in similar situations, then that’s great.”
Shane is especially sensitive to his son not being accepted by others — he tragically lost his first son Georgie from a previous relationship to SIDS.
So far, Reilly attended the party of his new friend Jaycee; no one came to her first tea party, so her mother arranged this second one just so that Reilly could come out. Christine was amazed at how “vocal” Reilly became when the music came on.
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