My son has mild autism. He manages well in a mainstream classroom and most people tend to just think he’s endearingly quirky. The only areas where we tend to have major struggles are with his social anxiety and shyness. He sees a therapist and is in a social skills group, but it’s going to be an ongoing challenge for him. For his approaching seventh birthday, he asked if he could take three friends from his baseball team to watch our local MLB team play. I thought it sounded like a great plan (he struggles with traditional parties but for whatever reason isn’t bothered by concerts or sports), bought tickets, and invited the three boys and their dads to the game. A few days ago, one of the dads texted me to let me know he had bought two tickets in our row so that his nephews could come too. He ended his text with, “I hope that’s okay.” My son has never met either of his nephews and is likely to be quite thrown by their presence.
I felt like he put me in a bind. If this were just a regular get-together I’d shrug it off and talk my son through the fact that we’d be hanging out with two strangers, but I feel like given that this event was specifically meant to celebrate my son’s birthday, he shouldn’t be forced into undue stress. I ultimately texted the dad back and told him it was fine—he’d already bought the tickets after all, but I can’t help but feel that it was incredibly presumptuous of him to invite along two children my son has never met to his birthday.
Am I wrong to think it was rude of the dad to bring along extra guests? The dad doesn’t explicitly know about my son’s autism but has seen his anxiety when he’s forced to engage with strangers, and we’ve discussed him being shy previously. Our local MLB team isn’t very good so tickets are neither expensive nor scarce. I honestly wanted to suggest he take his nephews to another game, but I don’t know if there is a way for him to exchange the two tickets he purchased at this point. Any suggestions on how I should/should have handled this?
— Baseball Strangers