Grandparents Who Don't Help Care For Autistic Son Divide Opinion

A mother has divided opinions online after revealing she may stop her daughter spending alone time with her grandparents because they refuse to help care for her autistic brother.

The mom, thought to be from the U.K., claimed that her parents have never offered practical support to her eight-year-old son, who has additional needs, but they want to spend time with her five-year-old daughter, who is neurotypical.

She explained her son isn't violent, is able to use the toilet, and while he may get anxious in new situations, he does not lash out physically or run away, describing him as a "brilliant boy" who "deserves the extra effort needed to accommodate him."

The mother said while her heart says not to let her parents pick and choose which of her children they want to spend time with, she doesn't want to deny her daughter quality time with her grandparents.

Grandparents with granddaughter
Grandparents with granddaughter. A mother has divided opinion after revealing she may stop her daughter spending alone time with her grandparents because they refuse to help care for her autistic brother. iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In a post shared to Mumsnet, she said: "Neither side of the family has ever offered us practical support or help with DS [Dear Son], never offered to babysit or take him out.

"The only help I received with him was a few hours while I had a planned C section for DD [Dear Daughter] and then my husband had to go home by teatime to put him to bed.

"DD is growing and developing at the same rate as her peers, she's a very funny and outgoing little girl who makes us all laugh. We put a lot of effort into giving her our attention and support so that she doesn't feel resentful of the time that we have to give to her brother, who she loves.

"She is getting to the age now where both sets of grandparents are talking about having her go to their houses to stay, or taking her on holiday. But when they talk about this they only ever mention her. Never my son. My heart says you don't get to pick and choose which of my kids you give this attention to. But I don't want to deny DD happy memories."

The mother, who accused her parents of being "ableist", received over 400 comments from other users, who had varied responses to the post.

One wrote: "I think that's awful - if the reason is that they're scared of his issues then it's on them to learn how to deal with problems that may arise. However, could it be ignorance on their part?

"Do they assume you wouldn't want to leave him in anyone else's care in case they couldn't look after him as well as you? I'd like to think if it was my grandchild I'd make the effort to learn about how to deal with his needs - and I'd want to give my DDSIL a break now and then."

"I would see it as a chance for her to be focused on in a way that often isn't possible when you have another child with additional needs," said another.

A third said: "To expand on my post, if it's the case that the grandparents aren't putting any effort into having a relationship with your son then I think they're wrong. However Unsure they might feel, they should at least be trying to have a loving relationship.

"But babysitting, days out, sleepovers and holidays - these are different. Being fair doesn't mean treating them identically, given that one has a disability and as I said earlier, for many autistic children, the disruption to their routine would be the opposite of enjoyable anyway."

If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.