Woman Bashed For Refusing to Take Autistic, Orphaned Brother-in-Law on Trip

A woman's refusal to let her autistic teenage brother-in-law join her vacation has flared up a fiery discussion about ableism in families.

The 25-year-old woman, posting anonymously on Reddit's "Am I The A**hole" forum, asked the internet if she was wrong for "not wanting my husband's 17 y/o brother to come with us on our vacation." Her post from Monday has received 9,500 votes.

The woman explained that her husband's remaining parent died four months ago, and his 17-year-old brother Ryan was now living with their aunt.

"He's autistic and I kind of find it hard to interact with him and being around him generally gives me anxiety," the woman said.

Autistic Teen
The teenage years are a critical time for people with autism, who have historically struggled with the transition to life after high school. Here, an 18-year-old autistic boy is carried by volunteers at a center for children with autism in Paris, France, in March 2017. MARTIN BUREAU / Staff/AFP

Her husband proposed bringing Ryan on a vacation they had planned, hoping to "cheer him up a bit after all that he's been through." The woman said no. Her husband pointed out that they were not going on a couple's getaway, since he was fine with her bringing a friend along.

"I told him that first [off], I already stated how I can't handle Ryan's autism and also, I've never been on vacation with him and I don't know how he would behave," said the wife.

Her husband was offended, saying it was "cruel" to exclude his orphaned brother just because of slight inconveniences.

The woman said, "I told him to drop it but he lectured me about how he's the one paying for it which really irked me because I'd paid for so many things in the past."

Later, her husband's aunt called to give her a "stern talk," saying that Ryan had done nothing to deserve her rejection.

The woman said she was still arguing with her husband, adding, "My friend thinks that my husband is trying to control me by using the fact that he is the one paying to spring whoever he wants on me on the vacation."

Living With Autism

The teenage years are a critical time for people with autism, who have historically struggled with the transition to life after high school. High school students with autism are less likely than those in any other disability group to find and keep jobs or go on to university programs or community college, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). They also tend to live at home with their parents more often than other young adults.

Teens with autism can face a range of social challenges, including difficulties with social communication, social awareness and social problem-solving. If the teenagers are left without a strong support system, these challenges can balloon into social isolation, victimization by bullies and trouble finding and maintaining employment, reported ASCD.

'Am I The A**hole?'

Most of the woman's audience slammed her for refusing to invite her brother-in-law.

A comment with 29,000 votes argued, "The ableism is strong here. And your friend is enabling your bullshit."

"You should really sit with why your husband's little brother makes you uncomfortable and what that says about you," another user agreed. "Have you read anything about autism or put any effort into trying to get to know him? This is the family you married into, and it is heartbreaking how cold you are being because he is autistic."

However, a smaller proportion of respondents sympathized with the wife, pointing out that caring for people with autism can be a challenging burden for family members.

One supporter commented, "She's not using slurs or calling him stupid or anything. She's saying she can't deal with his symptoms and has issues of her own and that she wants a vacation that's actually a vacation for her as well."

Another comment said, "Autism can come with co-morbidities and that's a lot of responsibility to put on someone with anxiety. Not to mention that [the original poster] will be one of the people responsible for the brother and that's not fair to put on her as well."

Newsweek reached out to u/SamualTJ425346 for comment.

About 75 million people—or about 1 percent of the population—have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

One mom was slammed by the internet after she expected a teen to look after her autistic daughter at a summer camp.

And a soon-to-be-married man has earned the wrath of the internet after expressing concerns about inviting his bride's autistic teenage sister to their wedding.

On the other hand, a heart-warming picture of a father and son who have been snuggling up the same way for 19 years has gone viral online.

Odin Frost, 19, lives in Texas with his mother DeAnda Frost and father Tim. Diagnosed with autism at three years old, the viral picture of Odin and his dad Tim delighted the internet.