Complaints about a boy’s play prompt outpouring of support
Dear neighbors who have called the police complaining about my autistic son,
After the initial second my heart feels like it’s been stabbed when the police visit my home or call me on the phone, my next automatic response to anonymous noise complaints about my son is an angry, “Shame on you.”
I think, what kind of a jerk goes and calls the police on a 13-year-old autistic boy having fun outside, riding his scooter, pretending he’s a train and making “train” sounds as he scooters with glee? What kind of a miserable meany calls the cops to complain about the cars that beep as they go by him on the front lawn, waving to the cars as they drive by, making enthusiastic “air horn” signals with his arms in unabashed joy and delight when a driver honks their horn?
I admit that on Tuesday afternoon after the latest attempt to silence my son’s fun, I took to social media and used more than a couple swearwords to express my anger, a personal policy in posting that I broke this one time because any other word that didn’t begin with an ‘f’ just didn’t feel appropriate enough.
But then something wonderful happened.
The outpouring of support from the community who knows my sweet son, who stated that they always beep for him as they drive by, who understand that he comes home from school every day to play alone because he doesn’t have friends calling to invite him to come hang out or go out anywhere… well, it just overwhelmed me.
Those hardened, bitter feelings towards you evaporated and an extraordinary sense of solidarity and love filled the hollowness in my chest.
Crowds of people have offered to come by and stand with him in front of our Route 6 house and join him in soliciting beeps, each one of them that brings a smile of sunshine to his face, for he has been seen, acknowledged, and validated by a world that rushes by him, a world that often misunderstands him, undervalues him, and excludes him.
Over the next few days, I suspect there will be a crescendo of beeps as people express their appreciation for my son and, well, their disdain for you for having tried to stifle his joy during the cumulative 15 minutes or so a day he sporadically takes to the sidewalk; in between scooter rides, snacks, and breaks I call him in for to give the beeping a rest for a little while out of consideration for, yes, you and the rest of the neighbors (who do not seem to exasperate themselves over the minor impingement of the “peace and quiet” of living every day on a major roadway, an interstate highway, the busiest street in Fairhaven).
It seems your attempt to get the world to revolve around your delicate ears has backfired, and in the most positive way possible for the rest of us.
I considered asking the police who it was who called to complain, but I decided that I do not really want to know. I do not want my child to catch a glimpse of my despondent facial expression when we interact, if we even ever do at all.
Instead of cursing you, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for prompting the positive outflow of support and love from the sphere in which we dwell in this friendly town.
Thank you for providing the exact amount of manure this garden of kindness and humanity needed in order to thrive and grow.
Eventually he will grow out of this phase and move onto something else and the beeping that brings so much joy to him and so much vexation to you will vanish. But until that day, we wish you a Merry beeping Christmas, and a Happy honking New Year.
In gratitude, Jean Perry, Fairhaven
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