Neighbours, Everybody needs Good Neighbours.

I wrote this post last week, but for various reasons have left it until now to publish.

This post has been inspired by two things I read last week.  The first was something that made me really cross.  I read some tweets from a fellow parent of a teenage boy with aspergers about a horrifically stressful incident for their family.  It made me so angry that I wanted to shout to the world to ‘HAVE A CARE’, ‘DON’T JUMP TO IMMEDIATE CONCLUSIONS’.  Then I read last week’s Netmums blog of the week ‘Knock on Your Neighbour’s door‘. which described a comparable situation, but from the point of view of a someone who had jumped to conclusions.

As the title of this post states. We all need good neighbours, and we could all learn to be a bit more understanding of those around us, not just our neighbours.  When you hear noises, shouting, banging etc.  don’t immediately jump to a conclusion, you could be making someone’s difficult and stressful life even more stressful and difficult than it already is.

As Shanni Leigh tells in her post, she jumped to some very wrong conclusions at first and then learned that there was a very sad story behind her next door neighbour’s front door which made her think and re-consider her actions.

As a parent of a pre-teen boy with asperger’s syndrome I live with an inner fear that as the testosterone levels increase his anger and frustrations will reach a level that I am scared to even contemplate.

Last week a fellow parent of a teenage boy with Asperger’s tweeted about an awful incident with a neighbour that made a very stressful situation even worse.  She has published a post on her own blog over at Aspie In The Family in which she writes to her neighbour to try explain the additional distress caused by the actions taken.

For those of you who don’t know anything about autistic spectrum disorders you can find a basic explanation here .  The brains of people on the autistic spectrum are often hyper sensitive to certain senses, visual, sounds, smells, etc.  They often process information in a different way and take longer to process things, they may not be able to process more than one piece of information at a time.  Often autistic people experience high levels of anxiety and  sometimes for a range of reasons, depending on the individual, when too many things are going on for the brain to cope with the wires get overloaded, anxieties are heightened to an overwhelming extent and the result can be a ‘meltdown’.  A meltdown is not a toddler tantrum.  It is where the person’s brain just cannot process any more information and the messages all become confused and overwhelming.  This website gives some insight into the differences between a meltdown and a temper tantrum.  The one thing this website doesn’t make clear is that meltdown’s are not confined to autistic children.  They are also experienced by teenagers and adults.  There are many bloggers that can describe the effects of a meltdown better than I.

So back to the point.  Meltdowns can be scary, they can be noisy, they can be messy, they can be frightening for those involved and immediate family.  It is SO stressful to watch someone you love in such distress that they don’t seem to know or care what they are doing, that they are screaming, shouting, kicking, biting, throwing furnature, slamming doors. hitting their head against the wall and any number of other things.  As a family you have to try your best to manage the situation, to make it as safe as possible, to try to find calming things to do and say.  You may have to leave the person to be as safe as possible and allow the meltdown to run its course.  You may have to deal with very difficult decisions if you think that the person you love is causing a danger to themselves or others.  Am I giving you an idea that this is bloody hard work and heart wrenching stuff? – I hope I am.

So please imagine that you are at home, at night with your other children and your teenage Son is having a meltdown, throwing his furniture round the room, slamming doors so hard and so many times, that they come off the hinges, throwing things down the stairs.
Would you be upset?
Would you be scared for your Son?
Would you be scared for yourself and your other children?
Would you be trying to think rationally about how to keep everyone as safe and calm as possible so that equilibrium can be restored as soon as possible?
Would you be having some anxiety about what point you should think about calling the police or a doctor yourself if the situation deteriorates in order to protect your family?
Would you be worrying about the re-percussions of such a potential decision?
Would you, possibly, be having a little worry in the back of your mind about the noise and how it might be disturbing or even scaring others?

I expect for most parents the answers to all these questions would be ‘yes’

So, how would you feel, on top of all of this if your neighbour added to your stress by complaining about the noise and threatening to call the Police? – It would really help to calm things down and relieve your anxieties, worries and to bring the meltdown to an end wouldn’t it? (NOT)
And then, how would you feel when the Police DO actually knock on your door in the middle of it all?    Yes, I guess you might be pretty damn frazzled by this point, as if you didn’t have enough to cope with!

Well, if you read Aspie in the family’s blog you will know that something like this did happen to one family last week.  It is very likely happening to other families.  It is something that I am scared may one day may happen to us.

We are lucky at the moment, we have lovely neighbours who I hope know us well enough to want to try to understand the challenges of autism and who would respect that we would do all we could to limit the impact on others, but would ask for help IF we needed it.  Please try and be a lovely neighbour.  Please don’t judge.  Try to find out what the bigger picture is.

If someone you know tells you they have a child, or any other relative for that matter, on the autistic spectrum please ask questions, try to understand.  The stresses of coping with some of the practical issues of autism are one thing, but the stress and difficulty in handling the lack of understanding of others is MUCH, MUCH harder.

Thanks so much for reading and remember some statistics indicate that approximately 1 in every 80 boys has an autistic spectrum disorder.  The figure is slightly less for girls.  So it VERY likely that you know several people on the spectrum.

If you would like to help us raise awareness and understanding that people on the autistic spectrum and their families need please share this post and pop over to Aspie In The Family and read and share their post too.

Thanks, so much for reading.  x

About Violets Diary

Visually impaired Mum, with VI hubby, 2 disabled children. Disability campaigner, novice blogger and tweeter. Trying to put the world to rights and share our journey and positive stories.
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21 Responses to Neighbours, Everybody needs Good Neighbours.

  1. My son, who turns 16 next week, has recently been excluded from his SN school following a meltdown. I personally feel that the situation was escalated by poor handling (six adults on him all at once. REALLY?) and was not happy with the headmistress’s platitudes. His foster family, social worker and myself all agree that he shall not be returning to be treated like that again.

    When he was much younger and living with me, he woke three sets of neighbours up because he was banging around in his room (he’d lift the end of the bed and let it drop). On that occasion he’d dragged the bed across the bedroom door so I couldn’t push it open – so when a neighbour came round to complain they immediately apologised and came upstairs to help!

    • Well done your neighbour. That’s the kind of support that people need. I don’t think any of us would pretend it is easy, but judgements and complaints from others just make it loads worse than it needs to be. Thanks for commenting. Hope you’ve managed to get out into your lovely garden over the last couple of days. x

      • We’ve had a gorgeously sunny couple of days and I’ve enjoyed sitting out on the patio with a glass of wine. Yesterday we rescued a bee from drowning and I kept an eye on her until she was able to crawl towards my chive flowers – we lowered one down for her to clamber on to. During that time we met several worker drones and two adorable baby Bumble bees, and D recognised the recovered half-drowned bee later because of her bright yellow head.

        Yes I’m a sap when it comes to animals 🙂

      • Oooh – not sure I cld get too excited about bees. I know they are good for the garden etc. but when you can’t see the detail of what exactly each buzzy insect is I’m afraid I just keep away from all of them in case its a wasp. Make the most of today before the rain sets in again. x

  2. Really interesting post and the words on the ‘Autism Awareness’ badge in the middle says it all. You certainly don’t need to have anything else piled on to you. x

    • Yes – I think for many of us it’s the judgements and reactions of others that add to the stress and anxiety which is really frustrating. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. x

  3. Rebecca Mitchell says:

    Just posted this post to Facebook because I sometimes feel people don’t get the meltdown thing and think its something peculiar to my family or a word I made up. I also felt very moved by the original blog post and felt yours very accurately summed up what happens inside the home during a meltdown. I too live in fear of the neighbours jumping to the wrong conclusions and ringing the police and I know from experience the blank looks people give. The word meltdown is so significant to us in the autistic community but means nothing elsewhere unfortunately. Thanks for your post xx

    • I’ve had some feedback from someone I know about a friend who is having all sorts of issues with meltdowns & has no-one for support. & is having issues with people making judgements and, like you she is struggling to get a diagnosis. I really hope and wish that parents and others who don’t have autistic children would read these posts and try to understand the issues. Thanks for your comment. xx

  4. 1funmum says:

    Thanks for a great post. I read the retweets of the different blogs you mentioned. I felt sad that I wasn’t alone in this world where people don’t understand and jump the gun. These days good neighbors are hard to find. We moved only to find the same type of people around. If your luck to have neighbors who are good at giving children on the spectrum privacy then your lucky and don’t move. Our last neighborhood put our family through hell. We hoped to move and find better but all we got was a better house. Stil we have neighbors who judge us constantly. They give no privacy to our family. They even discuss our kids with others. Our road is a hard one because of the small community we live in. That’s why my heart hurts when I read the other blogs. My boys are very well and quiet. You tend to be quiet when you can’t talk lol and we still are going though it. The people in your retweeted blogs were teens. This tells me were in for this for life. A pray every day for better days. You know people have the power to show a family the best side of them selves. It doesn’t take much. In my case it’s just to let me live through it without the audience and comment section, or it’s maybe ignoring the sounds of a big melt down. We have had our share of those. Hard enough to get a melt down to stop who needs a neighborhood backlash as well. It’s all just to hard to get understanding.

    • Hi. That’s why I wrote this, because it makes me so cross that people don’t try to understand. Good luck with your neighbours I hope they will eventually develop some more understanding. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

  5. Brilliant post here, i will be sharing after deciding to join facebook and get the message across to family and friends who dont understand. your spot on with what you say, it is not so much dealing with my boy that is the biggest struggle, the biggest struggle i have faced is the attitude of other people, i have been reduced to tears so many times and now feel like i live my life in a constant mode of defensiveness and that in itself is more distressing to me than dealing with my boys behaviours, always being judged is hard to take when daily life is stressful enough already. I had threats from my neighbour just a week after moving in because of the noise my boy creates, the neighbour being a big aggressive kind of guy stood on my doorstep swearing and threatning to have me forced off the street because “he wasnt putting up with it & it had been a quiet street until i came”, i calmly explained my boy had emotional problems and had explosive tantrums (i have no diagnosis yet) that he couldnt help it and thats just how he was when he got upset or stressed, his way of expressing whats going on inside etc.. the neighbour basically said he didnt care what problems my son had and that i had better sort it out! if only it was that easy eh! do these kind of people think we allow our children to behave like this on purpose? do they not think we have tried everything to avoid and stop it happening? …..Anyway im trying to move house because of it, its imtimidating enough being a single mum with no support from anyone and facing these things alone without the added threat of upsetting an aggresive neighbour, i obviously cant stop how my son reacts to certain things but i can move home again.

    • Thanks for your comment. I really want people to share and read this. Telling you to ‘sort your kid out’. Its not our children that need sorting. Yes they need appropriate support etc. But its the attitudes of others that need ‘sorting’ x

  6. I’m lucky – on one side I have a great mate who I often get together with to have a playdate with (and drink wine!). On the other side I have a not so good neighbour who always chooses the worst times to kick off.

    So feel for families dealing with autism. Funnily enough I was explaining about it to my son over the last couple of weeks due to a little boy he played with over the jubilee who confused him.

    This is a great post.

    • Yes, we’re lucky too, but I really feel for people who aren’t so lucky. I think sometimes a little understanding would go such a long way. Thanks for reading & for your comment.

  7. Blue Sky says:

    To me the point is that being a good neighbour, means KNOWING your neighbours and their needs and problems, but without being nosy or interfering. Sometimes it is good to call the police to a neighbours’ house, say in a case of domestic violence that you know about. Hmm, I feel a whole blog post coming on….

    • I totally agree. I had to think really carefully about writing this, because I didn’t want to just say ignore everything, because sometimes people DO need help. But you’re right the key is to take the time to get to know each other. Thanks for your comment. xx

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  9. Rebecca says:

    Great post. It is a difficult one but people should be able to to say what’s going on and not judge.

    • Yes, I think its all about people may be taking just a little bit of time to stop, think and ask questions, before jumping potentially to the wrong conclusion. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. Louise Lloyd says:

    I have just read your blog from finding it on Love New Blogs – I will definitely now go across and read the Aspie in the Family post – sometimes others like to live in their world of ignorance and don’t want to understand. Luckily not everyone is like that but a great post to help others who want to understand who might not know where to turn to find the information XX

    • Thank you so much for your comment. That is one of the main reasons that I write this blog. There are all sorts of misunderstandings and assumptions that get made because people don’t know the facts and my be too embarrassed to ask. I know there are some people who will never want to know, but if blogging can help spread these messages a bit that’s great. Thanks for stopping by. xx

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