Woman Refused to take Autistic, Orphaned Brother on trip

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ASPartOfMe
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09 Aug 2022, 12:04 pm

Newsweek

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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.

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."

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 BS."

"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."


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09 Aug 2022, 12:24 pm

I can understand the woman's perspective.  However, she did not say if the BIL had frequent meltdowns or some special needs other than "he is autistic".  Her husband's family may be fully adjusted to the BIL's needs and behavior, but she may not.  This is not about ableism, it is about her anxiety over having to either: (a) Care for her autistic BIL without any training or experience, or (b) Practically be on vacation alone as her husband cares for her BIL.

I have to wonder if her in-laws expect her and her husband to take over as full-time care-givers to her BIL, and if they had informed her of this before the couple was married.  It would not be the first time that newlyweds received custody of a disabled relative as a "surprise wedding gift".

In my opinion, she should either: (a) quietly go along with the plans others have made for her; (b) insist that her BIL stay home, or (c) insist that her husband takes her BIL on vacation while she stays home.  In any case, she might also want to consider that no matter what she chooses to do now, her husband and in-laws have already labeled her as ableist, mean-spirited, and selfish, and will likely see her that way forever.


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ASPartOfMe
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09 Aug 2022, 12:46 pm

Another option is the aunt takes him on vacation.

IMHO If you post to a forum called “Am I The A**hole" the answer is yes, especially if you post family business on it.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 09 Aug 2022, 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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09 Aug 2022, 12:49 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Another option is the aunt takes him on vacation.
That is probably the best option . . . unless her desire to foist her nephew onto the newlyweds is based on her own need of a vacation from her nephew.


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09 Aug 2022, 1:05 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
IMHO If you post to a forum called “Am I The A**hole" the answer is yes, especially if you post family business on it.
I see that.

Way back in the 1970s, I wanted to take a girl out to a "special" place (Bob-Lo Island).  She let the secret out, and soon her younger siblings were clamoring to go with us.  I could only afford the two of us (tickets, gas, meals, et cetera), and I said so.  Her parents seemed to think I was just making up an excuse not to take the sibs, because they insinuated that if I refused to take them, then I would no longer be allowed to date their daughter (we were both 18).  I drained my savings account (good-bye motorcycle down-payment!), and all four of us went.  It was a hot day, the sibs were cranky and demanding, and a bad time was had by all.  The sibs blamed me for being a meanie, and the parents refused to let me date their daughter again.  I would have been better off to stand my ground from the start.

That is why I identify more with the bride than with anyone else in the story.  It is also why whenever I am confronted with a "My way or the highway" ultimatum, I choose the "highway" option.


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10 Aug 2022, 7:24 pm

Fnord wrote:
Way back in the 1970s, I wanted to take a girl out to a "special" place (Bob-Lo Island).  She let the secret out, and soon her younger siblings were clamoring to go with us.  I could only afford the two of us (tickets, gas, meals, et cetera), and I said so.  Her parents seemed to think I was just making up an excuse not to take the sibs, because they insinuated that if I refused to take them, then I would no longer be allowed to date their daughter (we were both 18).  I drained my savings account (good-bye motorcycle down-payment!), and all four of us went.  It was a hot day, the sibs were cranky and demanding, and a bad time was had by all.  The sibs blamed me for being a meanie, and the parents refused to let me date their daughter again.  I would have been better off to stand my ground from the start.

Certainly an annoying situation.

In this case, I suspect her parents might not have been comfortable with her going out on dates by herself, period. Remember, when you and I were young, there were still a lot of older folks who believed that the worst thing in the world that any woman could possibly do was to have premarital sex. Demanding that you take her sibs might have been a way to ensure that that didn't happen.


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10 Aug 2022, 7:41 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Newsweek
Quote:
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.

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."

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 BS."

"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."

I would have suggested a compromise. If the planned vacation was long enough, then they could take the brother-in-law along for PART of the vacation, but not the whole thing. That way the wife could still have some "real vacation" time, on her own terms. The rest of the time she could work on learning to communicate better with her brother-in-law.


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10 Aug 2022, 8:42 pm

I don't get it. If the guy is so concerned about his brother and wants to cheer him up, why doesn't he plan something for himself and his brother? Seems more reasonable to me than having him be like, hey, why don't you tag along on this already planned vacation my wife and I had already planned for the two of us. Personally, I think it seems rude (and lazy on his end for that matter) to not only the man's wife, but his brother as well. There are better ways to be there for a sibling than that...spend time with the kid, check in on him, do things he enjoys, and so on. I think her dude is being the a**hole, not her.



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10 Aug 2022, 8:49 pm

I think everyone has an argument here

I certainly see the ladies perspective but the husband is caught in a dilemma as he wants to do the right thing by his wife and his brother.

Where's Solomon when you need him.?



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10 Aug 2022, 9:10 pm

Let the woman take her own vacation (at her own expense) and the 2 brothers can take the originally planned one. Problem solved :D



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10 Aug 2022, 9:27 pm

DanielW wrote:
Let the woman take her own vacation (at her own expense) and the 2 brothers can take the originally planned one. Problem solved :D


Would you do that to your wife?



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10 Aug 2022, 9:29 pm

if she was acting like that? Sure. I wouldn't think twice. I don't think I would have even asked her if I could take my brother on a vacation I was paying for. (at least not in these circumstances.) I wouldn't mind if she decided to stay home or do her own thing.



Last edited by DanielW on 10 Aug 2022, 9:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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10 Aug 2022, 9:31 pm

Whether she likes it or not the brother-in-law is part of the family that she married into. It's not incomprehensible that the husband would want to include his brother in things, especially after he dealt with a serious trauma and probably needs some time with what remains of his immediate family. Maybe she should use this time to get to know her brother-in-law instead of being nasty about him being treated like part of the family.

Fnord wrote:
...I have to wonder if her in-laws expect her and her husband to take over as full-time care-givers to her BIL, and if they had informed her of this before the couple was married.  It would not be the first time that newlyweds received custody of a disabled relative as a "surprise wedding gift"...

The husband himself brought up bringing his brother on the trip, so no one's making them take him or take care of him. I don't really see why everything has to be about autistic people being "sprung on family members" when anyone suggests they be included in things. It's almost like autistic people are part of the family, too...

FleaOfTheChill wrote:
I don't get it. If the guy is so concerned about his brother and wants to cheer him up, why doesn't he plan something for himself and his brother? Seems more reasonable to me than having him be like, hey, why don't you tag along on this already planned vacation my wife and I had already planned for the two of us...


It's not "just for the two of them", the wife is bringing a friend along. It's not like it's some intimate get away or anything, and she obviously doesn't have an issue bringing others along as long as they are allistic.


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10 Aug 2022, 10:04 pm

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
FleaOfTheChill wrote:
I don't get it. If the guy is so concerned about his brother and wants to cheer him up, why doesn't he plan something for himself and his brother? Seems more reasonable to me than having him be like, hey, why don't you tag along on this already planned vacation my wife and I had already planned for the two of us...


It's not "just for the two of them", the wife is bringing a friend along. It's not like it's some intimate get away or anything, and she obviously doesn't have an issue bringing others along as long as they are allistic.


Oh. Junk. I missed that. My bad. I guess I ought to have read that twice, huh.

Now my brain goes to thinking it seems more than a little double standard-y of her to bring her own plus one, and take issue with her spouse doing the same. Hm. Looks like I need to rethink my stand on this one.



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10 Aug 2022, 10:36 pm

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
It's not "just for the two of them", the wife is bringing a friend along. It's not like it's some intimate get away or anything, and she obviously doesn't have an issue bringing others along as long as they are allistic.


Not excusing the wife but she did say the brother causes her anxiety so I do feel empathy for her being able to relax or enjoy herself and this might be a holiday she was looking forward to for months.



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10 Aug 2022, 10:44 pm

cyberdad wrote:
Not excusing the wife but she did say the brother causes her anxiety so I do feel empathy for her being able to relax or enjoy herself and this might be a holiday she was looking forward to for months.

If she had made an effort to get to understand her brother-in-law beforehand this wouldn't even be an issue. She can't have "anxiety" towards him and expect him to be excluded from her life forever. He's part of her family now whether it makes her comfortable or not, and her husband can't be expected to just tip-toe around her discomfort towards non-allistic people.


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