Internet Backs Mom Opposed to Daughter Rooming With Autistic Child on School Trip

A concerned mother has found support online after making the difficult decision to ask that her eldest daughter not be paired up with an autistic classmate for an upcoming school trip away.

Autism impacts countless numbers of families in the U.S., with the CDC estimating that around one in 44 children have the developmental disability. What's perhaps less highlighted is the impact it has on the siblings of autistic children.

A study published in the October 2018 issue of Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review found that siblings of autistic children were more likely to be withdrawn and struggle in social situations than siblings of kids without the condition.

Researchers also found they fared worse both socially and emotionally compared with the siblings of children with other types of intellectual disability or developmental delay.

That impact was certainly a concern for the worried mother-of-four who took to Reddit's "Am I The A******?" thread to vent over an ongoing issue involving her eldest daughter, Izzy.

According to the post, which has been upvoted 11,800 times, Izzy's younger brother Luke has autism and ADHD and, as his mom acknowledges, "can be a bit of a handful at times."

However, the mom notes that living with Luke has imbued Izzy with "a knack for helping special needs kids and a sense of maturity beyond her years."

This has proven useful at school, according to the post, with Izzy showing similar "kindness" to a girl called Maisy who has "autism and severe anxiety" which has worsened over the past few years.

While Izzy's efforts have been noted by her teachers and her mom said she is "proud" of her, things came to a head after it was proposed that Izzy room with Maisy during an upcoming school trip away.

Though Izzy initially agreed, she later came home "crying" from school and told her mother she didn't want to room with Maisy as she needed a break from being "stressed so others can be happy."

Determined to "give her a chance to be a little girl instead of an adult," the mom said she contacted the school and explained the situation and why Izzy needed a break.

Though the school agreed, Maisy's mom confronted her a few days later and asked her to get Izzy to reconsider. When Izzy's mom refused, Maisy's mother accused her of bringing her daughter up to be "intolerant" and wondered how she would feel if it was her son.

She is also considering removing Maisy from the trip altogether. Concerned that her actions may have "isolated" the young girl further, Izzy's worried mom turned to social media for advice.

Yet the majority felt she was right to put the needs of her own child first.

RadarLove907 commented: "Your daughter is wise enough to tell a trusted adult she needs a break. Your 10 year old established boundaries. You reinforced that and taught her self care and boundaries are necessary."

Chickenfightyourmom said: "Putting a child in charge of another child's mental status and anxiety level is f***ing obscene. Izzy is a student, and she should have a student's experience. She's not a caregiver."

Glitterasaur added that Izzy is "a child and she needs to be allowed to be a child." They wrote: "Yes, that's sad that Maisy will be left out, but it sounds like she has no business going on this trip in the first place. If she can't go without an Izzy to watch her, she shouldn't go."

Noblestromana, meanwhile, wondered if it was ultimately too much too soon for Maisy and offered up an alternative. "Maisy would do better as her first experience to have small sleepovers or something where she [her mom] would be close by," they suggested.

Elsewhere, No_Performance8773 laid the blame at the door of the school for failing to provide proper support for Maisy on the trip. "A peer is not a replacement for professional support or interventions," they said.

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment.

The need for improved support and tailoring of resources to meet the needs of autistic children was highlighted in a 2018 qualitative study published in the Sage journal Autism & Developmental Language Impairments.

The research detailed the social, emotional and physical isolation autistic young people experienced in mainstream schooling and how unsupported and misunderstood by teachers many autistic pupils felt.

They also offered suggestions for improvements like more breaks, less homework, smaller classes, a renewed focus on breaking down instructions in the classroom and the creation of safe spaces to voice concerns to staff.

A woman and daughter in school meeting.
Stock image of a woman and her daughter in a meeting with a teacher. A mom has been praised for sticking to her guns and refusing to let her daughter room with a severely autistic child on a school trip. Frédéric Michel/Getty