ASK AMY: Child with special needs really needs good uncles

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Dear Amy: I have a 9 year old with special needs. “Kyle” is highly functional on the autism spectrum, but doesn’t do well with athletics and other “typical” settings that can help a child fit in, make friends, and have functional child dynamics.

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We worry that he is becoming more socially isolated. We are very engaged and committed to your therapy and well-being. Our little families follow suit (especially the two sets of grandparents).

My problem arises from my younger (adult) brothers.

Both are loving but seemingly distant uncles.

I really resent their lack of effort or involvement, which I know my child would benefit from: whether it’s the occasional day trip to the zoo, park, ball game, or the pleasure of spending the night.

They haven’t had it in years. They don’t have children and live close by.

Growing up, I was the older brother who acted as a caretaker. I always thought each of them was spoiled and self-centered.

Am I wrong to get so excited about this? I just can’t get over my disdain.

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I know it’s not your job to “landscape” your nephew, but a few hours of quality time a month would help his psyche immensely.

Your recommendations?

– upset father

Dear Dad: Contact between these uncles and “Kyle” would probably be good for Kyle. It would also be good for your brothers.

Those of us who have family members with special needs understand that sometimes the relationship can unlock qualities that will put a person in touch with their own deeper humanity.

If they got to know his nephew, his brothers would see that he has a sense of humor, that he has a unique way of seeing the world and processing information, and if he connected with them and formed a close relationship, simply be better men.

Do they want to be better men? Maybe not.

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They will not spontaneously advance, because they don’t know how. Do they need a taped invitation from their big brother? Unfortunately, yes they do.

Instead of sharing your disappointment and disdain, you should ask your siblings for help.

Invite them (one at a time) to hang out with you and Kyle.

You’re going to have to show them how to be with him, and when you do, one or both of your brothers might develop their own peculiar kind of relationship with Kyle, which would grow as those uncles became more trusting. You can then ask if each of them could take you maybe one Saturday morning a month for some “uncle time”.

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Dear Amy: My fiance and I have been together for four and a half years. We’re getting married next month.

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It will be a small wedding with less than 50 guests.

After sending out our invitations, stating the 2:30pm start time, one of my aunts texted and asked, “What time is the wedding? We have a conflict we are working on. For us, if it was at the end of the day, it would be better… just saying!”

I know she got the invite. I simply texted back saying the wedding started at 2:30pm.

I later find out that her conflict is a garage sale she was planning to do.

This week, another uncle texted: “We are thinking about your wedding day. Until what time of night do you plan the reception?

Amy, I think if it weren’t for a gay marriage, these inappropriate questions would never be asked. I don’t think they consider this marriage “real”.

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Am I overreacting by being offended?

– Two bride and groom

Dear Grooms: I am very happy to report that you are not being discriminated against. How do I know this? Because on my own wedding day, people called and texted me asking what time the ceremony was, asked for directions to the church, and told me they were bringing extra guests.

I’ll be happy to post other people’s wedding day stories, many of which will put your aunt and uncle’s advance requests into perspective.

The happiest news is that none of this matters. You will have a great time.

Dear Amy: I loved your response to “Happy to help” who wondered how to help your partner overcome writer’s block.

I was so happy to see my favorite author, Anne Lamott, quoted in the answer!

– Big fan

Dear big fan: Quoting from Charlotte’s web: “It is not always that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

Anne Lamott is that, for many writers and readers.

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