Echosmith drummer Graham Sierota and his family are further apologizing for Graham’s direct messages sent to Travis Barker‘s 13-year-old daughter Alabama, revealing that Graham was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as a child.
“We have never publicly addressed this in the past, but given the events of the last few days, we feel compelled to speak out now to offer some additional context and insight into the unfortunate misunderstandings that occurred and clear up the deeply hurtful mischaracterizations of Graham,” the Sierota family says in a statement to PEOPLE.
“As a child, Graham was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” the statement continues. “He has difficulty understanding social cues.”
The family goes on to say that 20-year-old Graham’s “challenges” have “always been a non-issue in our family.”
“In fact, it is a truly beautiful and wonderful thing that makes Graham the amazing brother, son and friend that he is,” the statement says. “His outlook on life inspires us every day. He’ll be the first one to say ‘today is gonna be the best day ever,’ or, ‘you’re my best friend and you look amazing today.’ He sees the world as the happiest place, where everyone is a potential friend, and he wants everyone to feel included.”
The family explains that Graham had used social media to invite several “athletes, musicians, artists, and models” to a holiday party at their home “one very recent Christmas.”
“Anyone who has ever met Graham will agree, he is the friendliest and most kind-hearted, welcoming person in the world,” the Sierotas continue.
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“We understand that his interactions were misinterpreted and misunderstood in the confusing world of social media, and we are deeply sorry. Graham certainly never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”
The statement — which is signed by Graham and his bandmate siblings Sydney, 22, and Noah, 23, as well as their parents, Linda and Jeffery — concludes by saying that the family will continue to work with Graham “to have the right tools and knowledge about social boundaries, and to better navigate and utilize social media while he takes a break from it.”
“We hope anyone who’s been affected, and in turn felt uncomfortable, can accept our deepest apologies.”
Earlier this week, Alabama shared since-deleted screenshots of Graham’s messages to her, saying “Hey guys! So once again I am bringing this to your attention because I’m a 13-year-old girl and he is 21/20 super creepy.”
Barker, 43, responded to the messages on Thursday in a statement to The Blast, calling Graham’s messages “predatory behavior.”
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“When I found out a 20-year-old man was trying to get in touch with my 13-year-old daughter by filling her Instagram messages with party invites and compliments I was disgusted,” he said. “That’s predatory behavior and there is nothing cool, normal or ok about it at all.”
Graham apologized in a statement earlier on Thursday obtained by PEOPLE, saying that he did not realize she was a minor when he reached out to her.
“I had invited Alabama to my parents’ big family BBQ along with many other people, and it wasn’t until she responded that I realized her age at which point I apologized to her,” he said. “I’m really sorry and feel very badly about this. I didn’t realize she was a minor and assumed she was my age. I made a careless mistake and this is a big lesson for me. I would like to apologize again to Alabama, her dad Travis, and her family.”
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Alabama has since accepted Graham’s apology and said on her Instagram Story Friday that she is ready for the back-and-forth to end.
“Hey guys! I am posting on behalf of the drummer of Echosmith! He had dmed me a while back in 2016 and then once again in July saying I was beautiful and invited me to a bbq at his house. He is very sorry about the situation and regretful,” she said. “I forgive him and would like for this all to be over.”