Who’s Party Is It?! (Does Having Down Syndrome Mean You Should Automatically Be Included?)

A story has gone viral about a mother who was upset that her son, who has Down Syndrome, wasn’t invited to his classmate’s birthday party. Apparently, everyone else in the child class was invited which caused the boy with Down Syndrome (Sawyer) to feel left out. Sawyer’s mother wrote an open letter to the parents of the birthday boy & decided to post it on social media in an effort to encourage inclusion on behalf of her son. The parents of the birthday boy ended up sending a “special” invitation to Sawyer to appease the mother and many people rallied around Sawyer’s mother for standing up for her son.

Here is the opening paragraph of her letter from her Facebook page:

Hi there,

I know we don’t know each other well but my son Sawyer and your child are in the same class. I understand that your child recently delivered birthday invitations to the entire class except to Sawyer, who was not invited. I also understand that this was not an oversight on your part, that it was an intentional decision to not to include my son….



My question is this: Since when does everyone have to be invited to a child’s birthday party? Shouldn’t the ‘birthday boy’ be able to invite anyone he wants to his OWN party?

While it would be great if everyone was invited to everything, that’s just not possible. The parents who are paying for their child’s birthday party can legally, ethically & morally invite whomever they choose. Who’s to say that the birthday boy himself even wanted his classmate, Sawyer, to attend his party?!

I understand that no one wants to be left out, but why blast someone over social media just because your son was excluded from a PRIVATE event? Wouldn’t you want your child to go to a party that they were actually invited to, not one where they weren’t wanted in the first place?! Why force your child on anyone else? No one is obligated to include your child in a privately held function, whether they have Down Syndrome or not. Respect the wishes of those who are throwing the party.

I don’t think Sawyer’s mother handled this in the best way. First off, she should not have taken to social media to express her gripes about her son being left out. Secondly, did she even find out why her son was not included? Perhaps the other parents were concerned about needing additional supervision for Sawyer. We don’t even know the age of the classmate who was throwing the birthday party. Down Syndrome children are typically academically delayed which means they could be in a class with people who are 3,4 or even 5 years younger than they are. So while these two children were in the same grade, that doesn’t mean they were the same age. Maybe the birthday boy didn’t want an “older” kid at his birthday party.

Thirdly, at some point children have to learn that they won’t always be included. Regardless of our “condition” in life, not everyone is invited to everything. What better time to learn this life lesson than as a young person?

At the end of the day, it’s okay to stand up for your child but these parents can invite anyone they want into their home and to their child’s birthday party. It’s their home, it’s their money and it’s their right.

What do you think? Should Sawyer have been included with the rest of his classmates or do people have the right to invite whoever they’d like to their own party?

5 thoughts on “Who’s Party Is It?! (Does Having Down Syndrome Mean You Should Automatically Be Included?)

  1. Inviting everyone in the class except for one student is tacky and mean. Sawyer may have Down Syndrome, but that does not mean that he doesn’t have feelings and cannot see when he is being left out. If this dealt with older students (middle-school and up) this letter would be out of line. However, I think that Sawyer’s mom was correct in calling the parent(s) out. Decisions are not without consequences. The student had a “right” to invite whomever they wanted, and the mother had a “right” to speak publically about it.

    1. Why should the other parents be called out publicly? Over social media? That’s not very mature – any woman should be able to talk with another woman, mother-to-mother without taking things to Facebook 1st.

      And unfortunately, a lot of people are left out of parties/events/clubs, even when they DON’T have Down Syndrome. Sawyer is going to have to deal with that even when his mother isn’t around.

      1. By taking the issue to Facebook, Sawyer’s mother brought attention to an issue that many people choose to ignore. Her message had a farther reach than the situation. Children and adults with disabilities are often treated as if they are invisible and/or without feelings. She did not name the mother or the child hosting the party and took responsibility for not teaching others in the class about her son in her open letter.

        The fact that the only child in the class who was not invited was the only child with Down Syndrome suggests prejudice. To lump bigotry with people not being invited to every event in general is dangerous. It allows toxic behavior to continue. I agree that Sawyer will have to deal with exclusion in his future. However, I also believe that society will have to deal with the prejudice that children are taught and/or empowered with at an early age.

      2. While I don’t agree that prejudice is okay, I do think it is okay for someone to be able to invite whomever they want into their PRIVATE residence. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be told who you have to invite to a party that you are paying for in your own home. The birthday boy’s parents are no different.

        And even as an adult I wouldn’t want to be forced to invite someone that I don’t want to my own birthday party. Furthermore, why would a parent want their child to attend an event where they were never wanted? I think Sawyer’s mother is doing him a disservice. =(

  2. In a perfect world, he would have. But kids are cruel. Forced interactions usually lead to resentment. I hope Sawyer’s classmates learn to accept and include him. But the chances of children being happy about being made to play with someone… 😦

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