Neighbour calls autistic boy ‘it’ in letter to mother
Getting to be a parent is one of life's biggest achievements, while also being its toughest test.
It's a long and difficult journey, and it's one that only gets tougher if your child is born with autism, like roughly 700,000 people in the United Kingdom.
Around 2.8 million people (one in 25 Brits) will have to manage autism in some form as part of their daily lives, and if you have autism (or have a loved one who does), you'll know that getting the right support can go a long way toward a happy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, that support isn't always forthcoming; especially from people looking in from the outside.
Jessica Green, from Berkeley in Gloucester, is 27 years old, and her three year-old son Henry is autistic. Henry is non-verbal, which means he often communicates through screams and screeches, but this seems to have gone down quite poorly with one of Jessica's neighbours.
Green was horrified to receive an anonymous note from a neighbour, telling the mum she was "selfish" for allowing her child to scream, and threatening to report her to social services. Credited to "the residents and neighbours in the local area", the letter says that Green's neighbours are "sick to death" of hearing the screeches across the neighbourhood.
The typed letter also criticises Green for allowing Henry to make so much noise, and even implies that she is neglecting her three-year-old child. Even worse, the writer of this letter callously refers to Henry as "it", and promises to file a noise complaint against the mum.
"People can no longer sit out in their garden to enjoy the weather because all we hear is your child shrieking from across the street. We put up with it last year, all through the summer and hoped your child would have grown out of screaming but it seems not as it still does it all day every day and louder and shriller than before."
Although it does not seem like the author of this letter is aware of Henry's autism, Jessica is still dismayed at the nature of the note, labelling it "appalling", but thinks that this letter is the work of a few bad individuals rather than the entire estate, where she lives with her partner Josh and their seven-year-old daughter Halle.
"It’s appalling – they should have common courtesy to ask if the child’s OK and I’m sure it is just the thoughts of one individual because other neighbours have come to my defence. I want to make people aware of autism – they were too quick to make a judgement."
While Jessica Green says that she lives in a "lovely area" with a "nice community", there are clearly some people in that community who have jumped to a hasty conclusion concerning herself and her three-year-old son.
We sincerely hope that this unsavoury episode is cleared up soon enough, but this is just one example of the difficulties the mother of an autistic child can face, and loving support here from her neighbours would be much more appreciated than judgemental criticism.