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?