It can be hard to deal with family members with special needs, especially at important events like weddings where they may be unable to behave “appropriately”. One woman has had enough of her sister’s behaviour, turning to Reddit to ask whether she was in the wrong to exclude her sister from her wedding.
The bride-to-be explains that her sister Anna has severe autism and is largely non-verbal. She has “pretty bad” cognitive skills and can’t “comprehend boundaries”.
Her fiancé, “Michael”, has become Anna’s comfort person and she has issues with touching him. Anna would try to grab Michael’s hands, try to kiss him, and have bad meltdowns if she’s not allowed to be directly next to him. The family have tried communicating that this is inappropriate to her, but “there’s only so much we can do when she doesn’t really understand,” explained the woman.
“I told my parents I just want one day for Michael to be my partner.
“They called me selfish and asked how I expected them to agree to something like this. They told me Anna is disabled and may never experience a wedding of her own and while I have Michael for probably the rest of our lives she’ll have no one and that Michael and I can be a little more understanding to the reality of her life.
“They told me that Anna wanting to kiss Michael and hug him is normal for a women her age and that she doesn’t understand what her feelings mean. I suggested they try to redirect her during the wedding but they said Michael is gonna be family to her and he needs to ‘get over it’.
“My parents called me letting me know they won’t be coming and that it’s best I don’t bring Michael around anymore since I’ve ‘chosen some man over my sister’.”
Commenters agreed that while this was a difficult situation, boundaries must be put in place.
“It sounds like (your parents) expect you to share your spouse with her to make her life more ‘fair’ somehow. It really, really sounds like they’ve been secretly encouraging and supporting this behavior. The most charitable thing I can come up with is maybe they’ve deluded themselves into thinking ‘anything to avoid a meltdown’. But that way lies madness,” said one commenter.
“The main thing that should be top of (the bride’s) list is her partner’s safety and comfort. He is not a comfort object any day of the year, wedding or not,” said another.
“It also sounds like her parents just want (the bride) to allow her sister to ‘play bride’ in a sense since she may never have a wedding of her own. How is it OK for them to just expect the groom to just accept being touched/kissed without his consent? (Even if the sister doesn’t understand that what she is doing is wrong)” pointed out another.
Others suggested ways to introduce boundaries.
“Teaching a child on the spectrum boundaries is sometimes impossible. It’s still the parents responsibility to make sure their child is respecting the boundaries of others. If the child can’t learn what’s socially acceptable, the parents have to make hard choices of what’s an appropriate time for their daughter to be in those situations,” said one commenter.
“I have a son on the spectrum, and I have had to decline invites a hundred times just because I knew it wasn’t an ideal environment to try to teach him those skills. We would work on it at a different time, and hope the next time we could attend. I would never put my son in a situation that I know he couldn’t succeed, and expect everyone else to deal with it.”
“It might be time to have a serious conversation with your parents… about your sisters sexual needs,” suggested another commenter.
“Just because she’s autistic doesn’t mean her adult body doesn’t have urges and she’s not frustrated by them…There are professionals who you can speak to about this…Your sister lives inside an adult body and might be having issues with this particular need not being addressed at all. Your parents sound like they think that your sister is simply a large toddler and therefore her actions are generally devoid of sexual content.
“That’s likely not only untrue but damaging to her and the people around her.”
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