Wanted: Good Neighbors

Earlier this week, a mom in the autism community reached out to me for some ideas or suggestions for dealing with a difficult neighbor. Her son, who is quite severely affected by autism, has recently developed a verbal tic/stim. Often verbal tics/stims present as loud, unusual, and random sounds.

Apparently this neighbor finds the verbal tic annoying to listen to when the little guy is playing in his backyard or swimming in the pool with his family. So annoying, in fact, that he regularly calls the police to report the child. When the police arrived the other night, they actually suggested the parents try to restrict the time their son spends outside—to keep their neighbor happy.

Yes, you read that correctly—his parents were asked to keep their son inside so he doesn’t make noises that upset his neighbors. Needless to say, their young daughter was left crying inconsolably because the police were at her home to deal with an issue her brother is unable to change.

It is nothing short of disgusting that a neighbor would be so intolerant of a child’s disability that he feels compelled to call the police. Equally disturbing is that the police found it appropriate to suggest keeping a young boy confined to his house, because his disability is an “annoyance” to the neighbors.

My first question was whether the mom had spoken to the neighbors about the issue. She told me they weren’t interested in listening. Whenever she has made an attempt to explain her son’s behavior, she is shut down and met with, “Yes, yes…we KNOW he’s autistic!” How’s that for empathy? I wonder how this guy would go living next to us—with six kids, our backyard noise levels are off the chart.

But this is about more than a cranky neighbor; this is about intolerance for disability. And for that, I’ve got two dozen eggs in my fridge that are looking for a good home on the outside of an idiot’s house. Anyone care to join me?

How would you respond if this was your neighbor? Have you experienced, or even heard of  anything like this? 

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113 Responses to “Wanted: Good Neighbors”

  1. Shanta

    My brother is autistic and has Tourette’s Syndrome. His tics can be quite loud and very annoying. He takes medication to keep that, as well as his ADHD and epilepsy, in check. I’ve had people stare at him, thinking he’s on drugs most likely, move away from him and just act awkward around him. I’ve NEVER had the cops called. Let me know if you want us to come over for a visit sometime. Then see how the neighbour reacts. ;)

  2. Julia Roberts

    This situation is horrible and not uncommon I suppose. I would file a report (non-emergency) of the harrassment by the neighbor (for calling the police, etc) so that it’s on record.

    Then I’d print out and send the neighbor some materials on autism education, links to videos to show differently affected kids with autisum and then I’d print out an add to a very good sound machine the neighbor can purchanse (I’m not kidding) and keep inside in their living space, or two for that matter (our therapist uses one with white noise that drowns out a surprising amount of noise). Include it with a nice note that they hope these coping skills and education will help them through the summer becuase their child needs to be outside and moving.

    • Mari-ann

      Julia, perfect suggestion.. you’re a better person than I – ‘cos if it were me, I’d go ballistic! My heart really goes out to this family. It’s not as if they don’t have enough on their plate already, without having to deal with the added insults of this neighbour – how awful!

  3. Amanda

    I don’t understand why the neighbours weren’t fined by the police for making such a stupid complaint. No child should be kept indoors without access to fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Especially children with Autism. They need the activity to help regulate many of their behaviours, emotions, feeding and sleep cycles! These neighbours need to shut up and be accepting of others or move out.

  4. JVD

    I can’t comment on your friend’s issue because I’m sure there’s another side to that story, but I can say that the picture of your pool, along with the comment that it represents a “typical” day gave me pause.

    I’ve always been afraid of buying a house where I end up next door to noisy neighbors, and I don’t consider myself an asshole. But there’s a difference between a party every once in a while and a daily noise-fest.

    Everyone’s home should be a place where they can relax. Yours, mine, everyone’s. But it’s not possible to relax (much less work from home) when there are 25+ people next door, playing in a pool. Or six kids whooping it up all summer long and into the evening.

    I think there should be some respect for neighbors as well as the desire to have one’s backyard be their own playground. Somewhere in the middle would be nice, right?

    • Julie Cole

      It’s all the neighbourhood kids in the pool! No complaints around here! :) Of course, everyone should respect their neighbours. Good neighbours are invaluable!

    • Bob

      I feel I have to comment on this as the truth needs to be told. I’m the heartless neighbor apparently, that Julie thinks should have my residence covered in eggs. She doesn’t want facts to get in the way of a good, hate filled bullying. But the reality is, as the police themselves will confirm, we never once asked the family to keep the boy inside. Ever. He spends 10+ hours/day on weekends and 4+ hours per day on week nights in the CORNER of his yard yelling, often accompanied with his beating the ground with a pole. Sometimes naked. It goes on after my young daughters bedtime, and then once inside he violently kicks at his window until late into the night. After contacting the parents about his being naked and the need for a fence, I suggested other options than the CORNER of his yard. Another part of the backyard, the front yard, occasional trips to the park, inside activities etc. The response was “that’s his happy place” and nothing is going to change left us no option but to call the police to act as a mediator. The police informed us we are in fact untitled to some peace in our own home and that we were not at all being unreasonable. These are facts Julie and others quick to condemn. The police and ethics/diversity rep assigned to the case will confirm. We are not trying to be difficult and never suggested he not be allowed out simply because he is an annoyance as has been said, but that he limit the time spent in that CORNER, and the time of day as we have a young daughter with an early bedtime. This is not unreasonable. The family of the boy has immense challenges to deal with and we recognize this. We have educated ourselves about autism as well as our daughter and nobody blames the child. We are not “idiots” or bad people, and don’t want to be any more burden to these people. The police are not “routinely” called either, as they will confirm if you actually care to hear the truth. Though truth isn’t as fun in a fact-free, bile filled rant like this blog. So end the threats and the witch hunt, and as another person who commented has said, we have been told to suck it up and his right to yell trumps our right to peace in our home. Case closed.

      • Julie Cole

        For the record to my readers, you should know that I spoke with the police at length today and 100% stand by my blog post. I have also been advised not to communicate with the neighbor so this will be the only response. Sadly, I will now have to close off all further comments. Case closed.

  5. Kim

    I am astonished by the absolute lack of good manners of this neighbor. Maybe it would be possible for the family of the child to play a radio outside, a selection of stations that play music the neighbor hates would be high on my play list. I wonder if the area has a sound ordinance. If they do not, then the neighbor has no grounds.

  6. Nancy

    Not a good move on the police’s part. Take it above the line cops and go to the department’s leadership and their elected leaders with information about autism (the stuff the neighbor won’t look at) and your concerns. I would also review any laws on the books for the community regarding noise, I would guess that backyard noise during the day wouldn’t be a violation of any existing regulation so they could make some sort of harassment complaint against the neighbor. If you really wanted to be spiteful, take out a personal protection order against the neighbor that would keep them inside when your family is outside. God bless good neighbors I hope this family gets some.

    • Angela England

      I’m pretty sure that the actions of the police officers opens the department up to a lawsuit because of their ignorant and intolerant statement about a child with disabilities. I have a feeling that saying so in a face-to-face meeting with a station supervisor would have a strong effect.

      • Alison

        I agree with you Angela. I think this story could also be in a National newspaper. In my mind it’s abhorrent.

  7. Mea

    I feel for both parties here. As a good neighbor that lives next to very loud people that dont give a damn how their noise affects other people – it is hard to live by. I hear their kids screaming in their pool and their outdoor parties with loud music – until sometimes after 10pm at night. My local police have better things to do – so they usually show up hours after I call. We have spoken with them in person – and they could care less. But when their noise is so loud that i can hear it over my AC on, the TV on and the doors and windows closed up – i can no longer relax in my own home – this is an issue.
    I dont believe you should have to keep children inside or only bring them out at certain hours of the day – they arent zoo animals. But there has to be a way to accommodate both in a fair way.
    I like the previous post – offer some materials on not only the autism – but the tics and educate them. Let them know you are aware of their complaint and you will do your best to monitor the situation – however you will not restrict your child from outdoor playtime so you suggest they find noise alternatives in their home. Give them a package of ear plugs – that may piss them off – but it is kind of funny!

  8. JS23

    I own a business and I would never go on my business blog complaining about people like this. It’s very unprofessional. Anyone who dares to disagree is labeled as being intolerant. Life is not that simple. I currently live next door to a mentally disabled man who makes all sorts of noises and screams profanity day and night. While sympathetic to him and his elderly mother, my children are rarely able to go outdoors and play. It’s not always convenient for me to pack them up and head to the park. We can’t host barbecues or have family over for outdoor events due to the loudness of our neighbor. Is my only solution to move? I can’t because with my economic situation it isn’t feasible to sell my house and buy a new one. But according to all of the people responding on your blog, people like me should suck it up and get over it or be presented with funny alternatives for the sole purpose of “pissing us off.”

    • Julie Cole

      Well, my business and my blog so I can pretty much write about anything I like. :) . Besides, it would be boring for me and the reders if I only talked about labels. As for your neighbors, what about teachng your kids about your neighbor and explaining the situation. I bet they’d have no problem playing outside and tuning out the profanity. Kids are amazing that way. Adults, not so much. I’d also happily entertain in my yard if I were you. If my guests had a problem with my disabled neighbor, I’d get new friends. Thanks for chiming in and good luck!

      • JS23

        You know, I should not have posted at all. It is a completely different situation, involving a grown man who is also prone to escalating his outbursts with violence. This is why my children stay in the house. It’s one thing to explain away vocal outbursts, it’s another to explain ambulances and cop cars after the man beat a neighbor’s barking dog with a baseball bat.

        Of course a child should be allowed outside. I live in a neighborhood with about 20 kids ranging from 2-17- they’re all loud. My situation is completely different, I think that I was trying more to explain that sometimes neighbors can get frustrated. It’s not that all neighbors are intolerant. It’s not that all neighbors want complete and total silence. It just that sometimes, neighbors get frustrated- especially when a neighbor doesn’t want to come up with a solution as to how to make things better. That’s all that I was failing to convey.

        • Julie Cole

          totally agree neighbours get frustrated (but what the heck with the dog and violence!?!?!?) Thanks so much for clarifying. I appreciate you coming back to do so!!

          • JS23

            The man was in his yard and the dog would follow him around barking and trying to bite him. It was a bizarre day in my neighborhood. I really enjoy your blog and realized that I just wasn’t being clear with my opinion. Because on the internet, I have the ability to be clear as mud. :)

        • Steve Shute

          Somewhere along our societies path, the notion of RESPECT has become more and more invisible, to the point of risking listing on the endangered list.

          As our communities become more “suburban” and “bedroom” there is a natural tendency to not know, or even talk to our neighbors. Not too long ago neighbors depended upon one another for help. Think of the pioneers, how the need for close social co-existence and co-operation was, at times as important as having a home. Hell in those days, it was neighbors that would come together top help you build your house.

          Of course we can’t go back to those days … would be nice … but the idea of respect for each other, and open lines of communication are slowly disappearing in our modern, “politically correct” society.

          I feel for you and your situation, and also for the older man … what an absolute hell he must be living in (probably doesn’t even know it … I have close relatives that suffered from very aggressive forms of dementia, their immediate loved-ones were the most affected and could only watch the deterioration take place).

      • Steve Shute

        As we grow older, there is a natural tendency to allow “pressures” both tangible and intangible affect how we deal with our fellow humans. We are ALL part of the human family, and the human condition. The more we allow social biases pressures sway our feelings and opinions, these feelings trickle into the fabric of our society. Racial, economical and social tolerances, or lack there-of must be changed.
        Kids will play with and empathize with others quite freely. Julie you are so right and my response to the “other business owner” we are not suggesting you “suck it up” but rather for one brief moment in your busy life, try, no DO put yourself, really put your self in the other person’s shoes.

        I think you will find that they are awfully big shoes to fill and most of us who are not burdened by a disability/disorder (physical, emotional or mental) after attempting to walk a few steps in their shoes … we would trip, fall and be reaching out to a hopefully understanding society … not someone who would shun, stay away or worse call the authorities.

        There was a man many years ago who believed that those who did not fit “his view of humanity,” should be removed from society. Well it is thinking like that, that has made my family tree a shrub.

    • SJG

      You have a great opportunity to teach your kids about tolerance, here. You can talk about how this man has a difference in his brain that causes him to say things (often loudly) that he probably knows he shouldn’t say, things that you definitely wouldn’t want the kids saying and that other people in your lives don’t say. You can also go on to tell them that the words aren’t scary, the man is not scary, he is probably a nice man he is just loud. If you don’t believe these things to be true yourself, then maybe you need to go meet him and take time to get to know him. I have a son with tics (they come and go) and I can tell you he is sweet, very good intentioned, and also deeply ashamed of the noises he can’s stop from coming out of his mouth. He is also tall and loud, especially since his voice changed. But he is not scary at all. People just need to get to know him, rather than trying to pretend that he doesn’t exist because his behavior is so upsetting.

    • Scott

      You are making excuses. Of course you could sell your house if you are that intolerant. But you don’t ‘want’ to sell your house for perceived economic reasons. There is a difference. And yes you could let your kids outside and/or host get togethers – simply explain the situation. I have a similar situation, though perhaps not as bad as yours (no one has it as bad as you, right?) and we don’t let it bother us, but use it as a learning experience. Soon it just become background noise. Perhaps enroll in some empathy courses at a local college, you’ll feel better and so will people around you. Namaste.

  9. Steve Shute

    We all belong to this one big family … why can’t we all get along?

    I want to share this post from a good friend’s Blog. The story speaks for its self but I must interject a few words of my own :-) and hopefully I don’t get too much hate mail, but then again I like to read so have at it! I welcome your comments as always.

    The reaction of the neighbor makes my skin crawl. The reaction and advise given by the police makes me sick … but then again we have to look at who we are dealing with and that is local law enforcement. “To protect and serve” sounds nice but unfortunately that’s about as far as it goes.

    To actually think, let alone tell a parent that they should consider locking their child up indoors … to make the neighbor more comfortable … WTF :-(

    Julie not only would I welcome a chance and we also have a dozen eggs which too are looking for a home, but I have an even better idea.

    Bag-pipes, kazoos and the violin. I have always wanted to learn how to play each of these, and perhaps there are some others out there that would like to join us. I think we might have found our new practice venue!

    Julie you have my number … just let me know when and where …there’s music to be made :-)

  10. Jenn8898

    I agree…and I taught special education. You professional blog is not the place and you threatening to egg the home is not only unprofessional,but childish. I have a pool and have 2 kids and 6 nieces and nephews that swim here. I am also very considerate of my neighbors who do not have small children and have earned their retirement.

    • Julie Cole

      Funny the egg threat is being taken so seriously. Thought my humour was not the subtle. I don’t believe this child’s family is being a disrespectul neighbour AT ALL. He does not purposely stim. You sure about your spec ed background?

      • Scott

        They are being obtuse. Most of us understand that the egg ‘threat’ was just blowing off steam and not a ‘threat’ at all. People need to calm the #*#* down and get a life and stop being holier than thou. I don’t believe this child’s family is being disrespectful either.

  11. JVD

    I wonder (honestly, I’m not being snarky!) how you all feel about this story in the NYT’s about a musician and his complaining neighbor? The story got press because the guy is Spike Lee’s father, but consider the words of the wife (it’s our house, we’ll do what we want) against the words of the neighbor (I can’t sleep). If the issue wasn’t autism, but just noise, would you all be as tolerant?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/nyregion/in-brooklyn-bill-lees-music-is-his-neighbors-headache.html?_r=0

    • Julie Cole

      if it was a noise situation because of music and partying, it wouldn’t even warrant a blog post from me. People should be respectful of their neighbours. Yeah, it’s the autism thing for me for sure.

      • Angela England

        It might be different if they were allowing the child to play outdoors and make noises unsupervised after sundown – most cities already have noise laws in place about when it is OK and not OK to be so noisy. But to tell a child he can’t go outside and play on a nice summer afternoon? Not OK.

  12. Jenn8898

    Yes Julie and the Masters Degree that goes with it. I guess insulting people and questioning their education of part of your”personal blog” as well. WOW, talk about unprofessional behavior on a business AND personal level What is YOUR background in special education? I didn’t think so.

  13. Jenn8898

    Oh and I would invent a label for you that says “Just because own business does not made me Queen of the World”.

    • SJG

      There’s a big difference between using your business blog to post about something that you feel is wrong, and being ‘Queen of the World.’

      I questioned your special education experience, too (in my head) – because your reaction is not in line with any of the specialist or aids I have had with my son. I don’t know if you meant to come across the way you did, but it certainly seems like you are advocating for a child with Autism to be kept inside if he cant be kept quiet.

      • Julie Cole

        Thanks SJG – that was my reason for questioning it as well. I’ve dealt with countless Spec Ed teachers and actually have a masters in ed myself…..the reaction seemed unlike what I’ve previously encountered.

        • Lindsay

          Oh, I’m so happy someone else said it first.

          I am also a Spec Ed teacher and I don’t want anyone to think that this is a common reaction among Spec Ed teachers.

    • Ashley

      Ummm Jenn perhaps you should simmer down. The comment about the eggs was a joke and if you are that edgy that you didn’t get it perhaps we should suggest a label for you?

      Not only is this a great blog post, it is something that should be shared with more people, as the way this neighbor is treating this child is unacceptable. With your degree in special behavior (which shocks me from your unempathetic comment) you would think that you would agree that this child (like EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHILD) requires time outside to run off energy and enjoy life.

      The fact that law enforcement, the neighbor and Jenn are all so fricking hateful makes me feel worse for them than this child – and that is pretty bad.

      • Julie Cole

        Thanks for your support, Ashley. Also, the thing with kids with stims, is they are often actually reduced by a lot of physical activity so playing outside is particularly good for them. Thanks again!

    • Scott

      Coherent much? With this level of grammar, cogency and spelling I have to wonder how much you paid for your “masters degree” and from which degree mill? Just wow!

  14. SJG

    I think people who want to equate living next to loud, partying neighbors with living next to neighbors with special needs are seriously missing the point. One is people being inconsiderate, the other is simply … not. Many individuals with tics desperately wish they could stop, but they can’t. And the people who are living with them 24 hours a day often have to hear them a *lot* more and a lot more loudly then their neighbors. I hear so many people who start a thought with ‘I know that person is special needs BUT …’ and then proceed with all sorts of judgmental thoughts. It’s like by acknowledging the needs, it becomes OK to then show how you actually secretly harbor unfair expectations of that person and their families.

    If this were happening to me, I would be reaching out to my local advocacy groups for individuals with special needs – almost every community has them and they are often quite influential groups. I would also escalate to the superiors at the police department. And if I got nowhere with those avenues, I would go to the media outlets.

    If your special needs neighbor’s noises are bothering you, it’s time to look at how you can make changes in your own life that can help – be that a noise machine, ear plugs, or actually learning about what is happening so that you understand it is not voluntary and then, perhaps, you will find yourself less annoyed by it. Because the fact is there is little to nothing you can do to get the other person’s behavior to stop, so focus on yourself and your own behavior.

  15. Jenn8898

    Oh and for the woman living next to the man who has a profanity issue with his disability. Instead of being a jerk to her, why don’t you switch houses and see how your 6 kids deal with the constant profanity or the inability to use your pool. Yeah..just find new friends and family because it’s just THAT simple in Julie Land. Too bad Iike the product because I sure don;t like the way you treat people. CUSTOMERS no less.

    • Leslie

      Personally, I would use it as an opportunity to teach my children tolerance and understanding. I would explain why the man is doing that and open up a dialogue about mental illness and disability. And I would let them play outside and use their pool. It’s that simple in my world.

  16. Sally

    I work in a group home where we have 6 residences. One man is constantly screaming and bucking in his chair. We’ve also had issues with the neighbour asking us to keep our windows closed and not let him outside. Unfortunately for him we believe our client has the same right as everyone else. To enjoy the outside and fresh air. To be out in the community with the rest of the humans. And luckily for our neighbours if they’d be patient he is usually quiet after 10 minutes of being outside because he loves it.
    I don’t feel any sympathy for the neighbour because he is not directly beside us. We are blessed to have a large yard with a creek running beside us and the neighbour. I would however would be more considerate if they lived in a newer subdivision where the houses are on top of each other. My suggestion to the mother would be bring over more kids and make more noise! Show her that “normal” kids are just as loud and obnoxious and uncontrollable. And that her kid is just like the rest of the children out there. Noisy

    • Julie Cole

      I would want you advocating for my child if he was in a group home. Thanks for sharing and thanks for doing a GREAT job!

  17. Lindsay

    I see an interesting dychotomy here; those who are asking for tolerance and empathy for others and those who are asking for empathy and tolerance for themselves.

    Everyone wants everyone else to think about others; either those who wish quiet and peace in their homes or those who wish freedom for children with disabilities to play without fear of repercussion. But, the difference is that some of us are more worried about our own comfort instead of thinking about the situation from all points of view.

    I have noisy neighbours – terribly noisy neighbours – who play club-like techno music until 11 or 12 at night… sometimes while they aren’t even outside, they just leave it on and go inside for awhile… I know how annoying that can be and I have called the police when my small children are having difficult sleeping and the radio and voices are still blaring at 1 or 2 a.m. But, these are not people with disabilities, these are people who are simply being inconsiderate.

    I also work with Special Needs children and know what issues may/can arise with their exceptionalities; including noises or actions that they CAN NOT CONTROL. They are human beings who need to be outside, to get exercise and to have the same freedoms as people who can control these tics and noises. Julie seems to be asking for empathy toward a family who is already struggling with the daily stressers and needs of raising and loving a child with Autism (or any disability), tolerance and understanding of their neighbours toward their situation. I sincerely doubt that this child with Autism is in the pool or playing in the yard after 10 p.m., which is an unreasonable time for such noise. The parents of this child have enough on their plate without dealing with rude, disrespectful complaints and an inhumane suggestion to keep the poor child inside.

    Should people find peace in their homes? Yes, within reason.

    Should this child have the freedoms entitles to all of our children? Yes, within reason.

    The trolls on this thread of discussion may be airing a legitimate frustration, but they are not looking at the situation from the perspective of the child or the parents of this child. The neighbours are only thinking about how they think the world should be (quiet, etc) and not how the world actually is.

    For the person who commented about living next to someone (JS23) – teaching your guests or children about tolerance is much more noble than holing up and hating your neighbour. For JVD, (I’m really hoping you are not the JVD I knew in high school, but it wouldn’t surprise me), people with uncontrollable tics have the same right that you do to live their lives on their own property.

    There is a difference between intolerant and inconsiderate behaviour; it is rather simple – walk in their shoes. You don’t need to “suck it up” you need to find peace, kindness, and empathy in your heart – because if it were you in their shoes, you would want the best for YOUR CHILD if they had Autism (or any disability.. or ability for that matter).

    Plus, kudos Julie: your company, your blog, your voice.

      • Lindsay

        Julie, Thank YOU for being brave enough to post your opinion and passion in a way that will not only open people’s eyes to the realities of life, but also put yourself in the position to have trolls respond negatively. Many people are afraid to speak out against injustice for fear of negative feedback. Thank you for not being one of those people.

    • MB

      To be fair to the person who posted about the adult neighbour with mental illness/disabilities, it seems this neighbour is actually physically violent. If you have young children, this can be very frightening to them.

      I’m all for using situations as teaching tools but there does need to be a line. This man should likely be in a group home with proper supervision, not running around his elderly mother’s yard with the potential of commiting physical violence against somebody.

      This is about much more than unpleasant noise.

  18. Jenn8898

    I have one too but it doesn’t give you the right to question an Bachelors and Masters degree and MANY years of teaching on a blog. Actually, I would be happy to hep you find suggestions that don’t put other people down as you are accusing others of doing.

    • Daphne

      Jenn8898, for someone with an alleged bachelors/masters in education, you sure make a lot of spelling and grammatical errors in your posts (as I now see someone else pointed out as well). Maybe I’m being petty here, but you’re picking on someone for speaking up for special-needs kids so I really don’t care if I hurt your feelings ;)

      Anyone can SAY they have a bachelors/masters on the internet, just FYI. That’s trolling 101. You certainly do not behave like any special-needs teacher I’ve ever met. You seem to have neither the patience, nor the empathy, required for the job.

      Julie this is my first time reading your blog, and I do not find this entry, nor your comments in this post, to be rude. :)

        • Daphne

          Thanks Julie! Count on it :) . Thank you for speaking up and don’t let they naysayers get you down.
          I just can’t believe some of the posts you are getting on here.

          We live in a noisy world; trucks backfire, dogs bark, car alarms go off etc etc….If you don’t like it, live on an acreage away from other people (and then call the cops on coyotes, owls etc).

          That these neighbours could be so entitled and cruel that instead of trying to reach a compromise with the parents (maybe a rotating schedule for outdoor time?) they would resort to calling the police on a child they know to have special needs (hell, any child! Children are loud, that’s par for the course) just borders on cartoon villainy.

          And now anonymous jerks are giving you a hard time for speaking up? I’d be willing to be they wouldn’t say that anything they’ve said to you online to your face, so take it with a grain of salt. :)

  19. Lisa

    Julie, I am a HUGE fan of your company but you are being outright rude on this blog. Frankly, It is not leaving me with a great impression. This is a very touchy subject for anyone. I am sure nobody wants to live next to loud people regardless of the reason. However, most of us are reasonable and tolerant of each other’s space and privacy.

    • Julie Cole

      Hey Lisa – I’m not really getting how I’m being rude in this post……I’m just telling a sad story about intolerance for disability. But, maybe I’m as thick as I am rude! lol!!

  20. Sarah

    Julie, I normally enjoy your posts, but I do think you’re being a little overly harsh with these neighbours of your friends, and on this blog. Yes, they were wrong to call the police. Yes, the police were wrong to suggest the child stay inside ALL the time. But when we live in a community, we all must learn to accomodate other people. Even those with a disability. What should their response have been? I think it is fair to complain to the police services board about the police response and behaviour. I also think they should consider letting the neighbours know they’d like to work out a solution that meets everyone’s needs. If you need to, find someone with expertise in mediation. But please remember, no one has absolute infinite patience. If there has ever been a time, just once, when you were fed up with your kid, then it should hardly be a surprise that someone who isn’t related to them occasionally feels that way too.

    • Julie Cole

      Hey Sarah, I think there were a lot of things that could have been done before calling the police. I guess I just think – gosh, these parents are dealing with this 24/7/365……to add more stress to their lives over something they’re trying to make better anyways……ugh. I don’t really think I was harsh – really just stating the facts. They just happen to be sad facts :(

  21. Bella

    I just want to say that all the negativity that is being spouted here does nothing to make a me, a mother of little boy who is moderately autistic, not feel very good about even sending my little guy to JK. I worry for him. I don’t want to see him bullied, or treated badly because he has yet to learn the coping mechanisms necessary to handle what ails him. He is also not even old enough to understand what is wrong. He’s 4. I’m lucky. My neighbours are great and they understand and always do what they can to help out. Thanks to all the people who have responded with such hate and small mindedness about people with disabilities. Thank you for having confirmed all my worst fears for my son. This kind of ignorance begets more ignorance. Intolerance begets more intolerance. All I can say is that I’m glad I have neighbours who are polite and understand our situation.
    I do think that you should go for diplomacy first. Make the effort of having an HONEST heart to heart with your neighbour. Sometimes even just doing some nice things for them can soften their ugly demeanor. I would also speak with the local police that looked into the complaint. Most cops that I know would be pretty offended and embarrassed if they answered a call like that and then found out the kid had a disability. If they know what the situation is, any further complaints to them can be easily dealt with on their end and they can advise you as to what your legal rights are. You’d be surprised.

    • Scott

      Bella, there are more educated and understanding people out there than you might think. Your little guy will benefit more from JK than keeping him away from it would I think. We’ve got a great deal to learn from kids with autism – in fact, what if they are normal and we are the ones that need to change? I know a little girl with autism that seem to be the happiest girl on the planet. I could learn a hell of a lot from her, and try to.

  22. Erin

    i think this is a great opportunity for education and for the child to have a party and celebrate differences … grab a street permit, invite other friends over from the autism community for a get together in the pool so him and his family can be surrounded my like minded tolerant people. Fill the from yard with a marketplace and infromation on autism awarness. maybe even make some signage that neighbors can post on their lawn stating their support for autism and people living with disbilities/differences!

  23. jenn8898

    Guess l am not the only one who sees Julie as being over the top here. As for anyone questioning my background……….

    • Oli

      jenn8898…For someone who has a Bachelors, Masters and years of experience, I can only say that I am happy you will never educate any of my children. Your grammar and spelling are atrocious.
      I am annoyed with noisy neighbours and I have noisy kids of my own….people like to complain about everything in life. Mind your own business and mind your own happiness.

    • irf

      Jenn, WOW, that comment about your education really stung, didn’t it? As a medical professional, your comments seem out of line with most of the spec. ed folks I’ve worked with; I think people could have noted this oddity more politely, but the fact that you’ve brought it up so many times suggests that you’re a little defensive about it, maybe?

      It seems to me that many people commenting are taking a very specific situation (odd noises and tics) and generalizing it (noisy neighbors). That’s not very logical. Moreover, if the description of the sounds this child makes is reasonably accurate, this sounds like discomfort (on the neighbor’s part) with something about the child rather than complaints about the noise per se – most kids are REALLY REALLY noisy, and it’s a little odd that the neighbor is complaining about something that doesn’t sound half as bad as the NT kids in my neighborhood (bike around the area until 10 a.m. shouting and leaving wrappers everywhere). I do think educating the police department is a must, esp, if the kid in question (or other kids with spec. needs in the area) are “wanderers.”

    • Scott

      Jenn8898 please quit the background thing…you claim to have a masters, so what? Appeal to authority is a false argument and a poor debating practice. No one cares. You seem to care that people have called out your patently false claims to such, but hey, that’s life, the internet isn’t full of dumb people. This blog post was about intolerance and an injustice. There have been lots of helpful suggestions here and hopefully these neighbours can get educated. Calling the police (more than once) is completely out of line.

  24. Beth

    I have a child with autism who verbal stims inside and outside. I am successful in shushing him sometimes. I have not heard directly from any of our neighbours, but one neighbour over heard some kids making fun of him and gave them an earful.

    I find it odd that the police would even respond unless the child was outside after the quiet hour of 11:00pm.

    I have a neighbour with a popular pool and the music and screaming kids drives me nuts, but if during allowed hours, you just deal.

    I admit to calling the police for a hot tub party that was going on past 2:00am, but seriously that was unacceptable.

  25. Oli Pfi

    jenn8898…For someone who has a Bachelors, Masters and years of experience I can only say that I am happy you will never educate any of my children. Your grammar and spelling are atrocious.
    I am annoyed with noisy neighbours and I have noisy kids of my own….people like to complain about everything in life. Mind your own business and mind your own happiness.

  26. Annie

    Business and personal opinions don’t mix well. You can leave a bad impression and that impacts your customer base. Think before you post.

    • Julie Cole

      business is personal, especially when it comes to kids in my biz. It’s who I am, it’s how I operate. It’s been that way for 10 years and will always be! :)

  27. Leslie

    As a business woman, you have the opportunity to use your notoriety and name as a pulpit for causes that need a voice. That you put this out there, that you are fighting so vehemently for the rights of that family and that little boy, and the horrible way in which they’ve been treated, is a credit to you AND your business. It saddens me that people are mistaking your passion for rudeness.
    I applaud you.

    • Julie Cole

      Leslie – thank you….that means so much to me. The mother of the little boy contacted me this morning and said she feels like I’m standing up for her to the school yard bully. It really made sense….it made me think that THIS is why people are bystanders who don’t intervene – because they really do open themselves up to attack. Sad, isn’t it? Thanks again for your kind support.

      • rls182

        I felt the need to comment, not only because of the sensitive topic but because of the response. Julie’s post was CLEARLY an opinion piece, which would be associated with the business regardless of where on the web it was found. I too applaud Julie for passionately defending this family, and trying to add some humour to the troubling situation by suggesting a carton of eggs be liberated from her fridge. I am on the verge of getting my Masters of Physiology, which I have worked diligently to obtain, but have enough sense (even as a young person, 25) to not take myself so seriously. I also questioned the credentials of a certain individual based their response – the additional “trolling” was pathetic. I respect Julie’s intentions, “professional” or not. Jenn, however, has hijacked this discussion and narcissistically made it about her. I feel sorry for those who have to work with you, it must be very difficult.

  28. Mare

    Maybe next week you can post about something a little less controversial…like abortion, breastfeeding, or my favourite topic of late: Rob Ford.

  29. marie clare

    I would call the chief of police of the town and explain how poorly it was handled, so they could educate the officers of how to handle this complaint in the future, is unless the noise level is at a certain point it isnt a valid complaint and the neighbor would just have to deal and stop wasting police time!

    • Julie Cole

      The police force has reached out to me very professionally and really want to follow up and make this situation right. I have put them in touch with the family. Very impressed with their response!

  30. Jeanine

    Julie, I for one appreciate your views and your sense of humour. If we don’t approach some things in life with humour, we would end up in straight jackets or become grumpy hermit crabs (your blog has sparked some hermit crabs out of their shells, I see.) And the thing about hermit crabs… they keep moving to different houses :)

    I get what you are saying. I GET IT. We are talking about a child with a disability here, who can not control his sounds at all times. If I was their neighbour, I would go out of my way to make sure they KNOW their child not only doesn’t “bother” me, but I’d also be poking my head over the fence making goofy faces to make him laugh. I’d be showing him my doggie so he could pet her. He would see only smiles from my face and I’d work damn hard to connect with him and make him laugh too. We all need to be tolerant of our differences, embrace them and work together!!! I know I sound like I’m going to sing Kumbaya soon, but well… too bad. Maybe I will sing it really loud to piss off my neighbours lol. The world needs sensitivity to keep spinning. Why has ‘it takes a villiage to raise a child’ disappeared from this conversation? Children with disabilities (and their families) need more attention and love from us, never mind us telling them to get lost and go back in their house. How sad and angry that makes me feel!!! A few people have mentioned that home is where you have to be able to relax. Well, yes… and this family deserves that too!

    If we can’t be accepting and loving with our disabled kiddos, we are surely doomed.

  31. AlwaysARedhead

    You and your family are more than welcome to move next door to me, and you can visit any time you want.

    What horrible, horrible neighbours.

  32. Tarasview

    holy crap Julie… I miss a couple days and BANG… your blog blows up! What is with the nasty comments from the trolls? I am guessing those commenters just haven’t met you. Or read anything else you’ve ever written. Because if they had they would realize how completely off-base they are. And who knew this particular topic would be so very controversial?

    My son has Autism and he is loud. He freaks out and screams and I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to have the cops called over and over again for something you can’t control.

    Our neighbours have always been incredibly understanding to us – just like we are to them when their son practices his drums or their daughter plays her music loudly. Why? Because we are kind to each other. That neighbour might want to try it sometime instead of calling the cops. He’d probably be a lot happier.

  33. Angela

    I cannot read through all the comments but I just want to say that I really get it from both sides. I disagree that the neighbours should be labelled as ‘intolerant’ because everyone should be able to enjoy their home and some peace and quiet. A noise complaint is a noise complaint and the laws cover the issue of excessive noise. Without hearing the child, it’s hard to judge if the noise is excessive. Perhaps the police that day had to make a judgement call that it was excessive. At the same time this is a child we are talking about; not music or an annoying dog and some compromise should be able to be reached. For example: maybe the family could make sure the child isn’t outside too early on a weekend morning disturbing the neighbours sleeping in, or something. The problem I have is when people feel that they are more important then someone else because of their circumstance. Autism is hard to deal with and I’m certain that mom is doing the best she can, but if she tries to view life from the neighbours shoes…from someone who doesn’t love her child and have unlimited tolerance because of that love. To the neighbour it is probably just getting annoying for their everyday home life. So as much as I feel for the family, I also feel for the neighbours. I think the best way to handle it is to be considerate and compromise….and that goes for both sides of the fence.

    • Julie Cole

      Thanks Angela – of course the issue here is that they called the police instead of working with the family for solutions. As I mention in the blog, the family gets shut down when they try to discuss the issue.

    • SJG

      People with Autism are not ‘more important’ than anyone else. However, they cannot change certain behaviour. Therefore, they are not actually on equal ground with people who *can* change their behaviour. You can’t treat all noise complaints alike: loud music, late partying, even shouting arguing and shouting are all voluntary and can be stopped (and should be stopped when they are bothering others); tics and stims are not voluntary, and in my experience the person doing them wants to stop but can’t, regardless of who it bothers.

      How do you compromise with something that is involuntary? It’s not like you can say ‘I’ll get him to stop between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm if you agree he can make the noise form 5 pm to 7 pm’.

      Nobody is expecting anyone to love the child, and realistically, there is no such thing as ‘unlimited tolerance based on love.’ Aversive sounds are aversive even when they come from your own child. As parents of kids who stim and vocalize, we know that it is uncomfortable and annoying for other people in our lives. That doesn’t give us the power to stop it.

      It boils down to needs vs wants: children need to be outside, and that neighbour wants quiet. Needs trump wants – all day, any day.

  34. Jenn8898

    I have read Julie for years and I mostly disagree with her. Why do continue to read? Because she hasn’t gotten the memo that if you mix business and professional you mix up a mess. THEN she complains about it. Really Julie? Speaking of minding your OWN business. How on Earth did the police call you over someone else’s business…unless you weren’t professional enough to say that it was not your place and step aside for business reasons…..OR keep it off your professional blog and make it personal. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Mare

      I’m sorry…I think there is something wrong with you.

    • SJG

      Judging by the proportion of comments in support of Julie vs. those who believe this blog post was inappropriate to her business, it’s clear that you are wrong.

      There is successful mixing of some personal commentary with business across many types of business, both online and off. If you don’t see that, you are willfully blind.

      • Julie Cole

        Thanks SJG – I agree. In looking at the very smart posts by you and a few others, combined with the over 4000 shares, I feel my voice was appreciated on this topic. I’m so appreciative of you and others who reminded me of that.

    • Tanya

      @Jenn8898, you are obviously filling a void you have. You are what the internet calls a “troll” or a “creeper”. You can’t help but fill yourself with the love that Julie brings and shares with the world about her topics and family. Perhaps you’ve always hoped for a large family; a close family who cares for one another. I feel sorry for you that your life is so sad that you can’t pry yourself away from a blog that you dislike. Someone needs to pray for your peace.

    • Jeanine

      If you’ve read Julie’s blog for years and mostly disagree, why do you continue to read it? Why not just leave it alone, stop the negativity and find your happy blog instead?

  35. Jenn8898

    THANK YOU ANGELA. A disability is NOT AN EXCUSE. It is merely an obstacle to work around. As PART of that community we can’;t have it both ways.

    • Jeanine

      I don’t think the neighbours are using the child’s disability as an excuse. It is also not an “obstacle to work around”. I really dislike this attitude! It is a difference that he has no control over. He didn’t choose it and he can not control it.

      And if Julie wants to mix business and personal that’s her choice. If you don’t like it that’s okay. You’ve told us you don’t like it and you think it’s unprofessional. Please just move on!

  36. Annelies

    This is sad, very sad to read. Maybe these neighbors are the one with issues, not this family who has been taking care of there kids, in good and bad times.
    I don’t think these neighbors have any idea how calling the cops affects this family.

  37. Ginger

    The difference with a disability like autism is not the fact that the child won’t stop the tic/stimming, it’s that they can’t. There is a big difference between can’t and won’t. One is because you choose not to and the other is because you are unable to. The only thing a person can really control is how they perceive a situation. If you believe something should be one way and it isn’t that way, conflict arises. I think the neighbours need to work on changing the way they perceive a situation they have no control over. The family with special needs didn’t ask to face these issues and I doubt there are many parents out there who would race to the front of the line to get a “special” kid, if choosing your kid was even an option. It’s not something any of us really wants to deal with, be it the parents or the village around them, but the reality is special needs happen and we can either make the most of it as a whole or we can continue to belittle and shame each other over something we have no control over. I wonder how the neighbour would cope if they were the ones parenting that child? I understand the neighbours must be frustrated, I’m sure the parents are too. Tics ad stimming are not typically desired behaviours. Autism is also a difficult disability because outwardly they look “normal”. Would the neighbours have taken such drastic measures if the child was more obviously disabled such as Down Syndrome?

  38. Dave

    I’m sorry about your neighbor. That is a shame. This idea popped into my head after reading the article and one of the comments… Send a letter w/ links and resources to kids affected w/ autism to not only the bad neighbor, but also to everyone on the entire block and the block behind you. Be sure to explain your situation and especially the “intolerance of one neighbor in particularly”. Also invite everyone (including bad guy) over to your driveway and offer to talk, address any concerns… over cookies and milk or lemonade made by the kids (or something like that to really drive home the point that you’re the good guy). I’m sure quite a few of the other neighbors will be very sympathetic, even if they only read the letter. Plus a good (passive-agressive) public shaming should get the bad guy to wince and pipe down.

  39. Mari-ann

    Thankfully, I have healthy children. But my heart truly goes out to this family! Reading this has made me so upset and angry; I just want to call that police station and file a complaint! Seriously, this is unconscionable… What a sad, sad world we live in!

  40. Kelly

    It’s ridiculous that the neighbours called the police and ridiculous that the police came. I think that everyone in this situation needs some education about ASD. Our local police have received training about autism and every once in a while the local autism service provider goes in to re-educate and educate new recruits.

    People should be able to enjoy their own backyards and that includes the boy with autism. There is a difference between loud music at 1 am and a child playing. Children at play should be loud. It doesn’t matter if they are typical or not. My neighbour’s daughter smokes on their patio and it blows over into my yard and into my kitchen if I have my window open. Yes, I think it’s gross and disgusting but I just close my kitchen window because she has every right to the full use of her own backyard. Like the boy with ASD whose tics are not a choice and whose playing is actually a GOOD thing.

  41. Kelly @ City Mom

    I’m fuming mad! First I’d research if I could sue them for some kind of discrimination both the neighbours & the cops. Next, I’d print this blog post and the other 101 comments that prove how idiotic, selfish and hell-bound that neighbour is! Then I’d go home, have a glassif wine & hope it sinks in!

  42. G. Levesque

    This is an outrage. Being human means that we accept that there will be issues that cause some level of inconvenience in our life. We do our best to accommodate this realizing that we also have an impact on others. Particularly true when we see neighbours with challenges. This jerk deserves a good dose of my late grandmothers discipline.

  43. Scatteredmom

    So, here is my experience with the police: it’s a crapshoot. You could get someone who is empathetic and who would’ve fined the neighbour, or you can get someone who has no idea how to deal with people and suggests stupid things like keeping your kid inside.

    I’ve talked to my husband (who knows kid’s rights, he deals with that kind of stuff) and her child has a right to play in his yard. Period. Your friend should go to the human rights commission to get the harassment stopped. If you want more detail, email me.

  44. Steve

    Why does everyone hate the police for what they did? They were trying to mediate an issue between two neighbours. They simply made a suggestion to try and keep the peace; isn’t that what they are after all…peace-keepers. I don’t agree with the neighbour one bit but direct your anger in the right direction.

    Also, I dont think it’s wise to go around advocating vandalism on your web-site regardless of whether you meant it as a joke. You didn’t get both sides of the story like real journalists should, so you could be opening yourself up to some real trouble.

    • Julie Cole

      the good news is – the police reached out immediately and are re-training their staff and dealing with the issue appropriately. So glad some great results came as a result of this post! And I didn’t even have to egg a house! :)

  45. Carey

    This is so sad but shouldn’t at least some part of it be covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act, it seems pretty discriminatory. Especially if this occurred during normal daytime hours it shouldn’t be an issue. I’m a person that grew up in the sticks with plenty of space and woods between houses. I find myself living on a moderately busy street in the ‘burbs with neighbors all around. I like the space and quiet of the country but prefer the convenience of the ‘burbs so I learn to tune out the various noises that could bother me. Thats what grown ups do, we learn to adapt to our environments even if we don’t always like them.