Anonymous note threatens to call council over teen with autism’s ‘strange moaning and shouting’

Posted February 26, 2018 18:45:16

An anonymous letter left in Magenta Quinn's letterbox Photo: The letter said it was “not fair on the community to have to bear this disturbance”. (Supplied: Magenta Quinn) Related Story: ‘It’s never OK to use the R word’ Related Story: What to do when a neighbour’s dog won’t shut up

The mother of a teenager with autism targeted in an anonymous letter threatening to call the local council over his “strange moaning and shouting” says it is nothing short of bullying.

Brisbane woman Magenta Quinn found the unnamed letter in her mailbox on Monday and shared it with her local Facebook group.

It read:

Dear owner/tenant

I am one of your neighbours and wish to remain anonymous to avoid any conflict.

When you moved in we heard these strange moaning and shouting coming from your garden every day and night, for which we were concerned may be illegal activities, so we contacted the police who in turn have visited your premises.

They informed us of your situation that a person in your family is suffering from a mental illness and that was the source of the noise.

Whilst I sympathise with your situation is [sic] it is a very disturbing noise that comes from your garden continuously, every day, sometimes late into the night.

It is not fair on the community to have to bear this disturbance especially as it occurs daily.

I would kindly request that you consider your neighbours and try to limit the amount of time that is spent in the garden such that we do not have to listen to the disturbing noise daily and sometimes before 6am.

I am giving you the opportunity to help us live together in this community without it becoming a constant battle.

If this continues at the regular intervals it has been, I intend to make a formal complaints against your address to council to help resolve the issue.

Yours sincerely

Neighbour

Ms Quinn, who is her son’s full-time carer, said she posted it to social media to make a stand.

“I put it up because I decided people who are bullies should be called out,” she said.

“It’s just not OK, you don’t do this to people.”

Ms Quinn said her son had the mental capacity of a six year old, and his “humming and occasional yelps”, while loud at times, were a part of him.

“There’s nothing I can do. It’d be the same as telling someone to stop breathing. He’s autistic, he hums, he flaps, he prances, he’s non-verbal,” she said.

“He’s finished school and can’t cope with the lifestyle centre. He’s got a lot of stresses in his life and there’s literally nothing I could do.

“Do I lock him in the house from 8 at night to 8 in the morning? What do they expect? There’s no compassion from these people.”

Noisy neighbours complaints

Noise is a very common cause of disputes between neighbours.

If you can, try to sort the problem out with your neighbour before going to the police, council or your body corporate.

It’s always best to find a solution to the problem directly and keep on speaking terms.

Neighbourhood problems can be very upsetting and generate a lot of emotion, so when talking to them:

Stay calmExplain how the problem is affecting youGive your neighbour a chance to tell their side of the storyBe prepared to listen and let the other person know you are listeningTry working on a resolution togetherTake time to work on a solution and get it rightSource: Queensland Government

She said her son’s noises were his “comfort”.

“It’s like people who tear their hair when feeling anxious, or flick their nails. It’s exactly the same as breathing to him. It’s a natural part of who he is … he doesn’t do it all the time,” she said.

“I’ve lived with it for a long time, I’ve tuned it out.”

Ms Quinn admitted there were occasions where her son was outside making noises as late as 10:00pm, and as early as 5:00am.

“It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen,” she said.

“These people are telling me muzzle your son, and I can’t. There’s nothing I can do.

“If they’re going to have an attitude maybe they need to close the window, play some background music in their house, get earplugs, I don’t know.”

Ms Quinn said she has lived at her current house for a couple of months without incident, until police arrived one night in January to investigate the noises.

She said no-one had spoken to her personally about her son, but had previous encounters at a former address with one neighbour “who came over at least once a month to complain”.

“Prior to that I was half a dozen streets from where I am now. I was there for four years and no-one complained,” she said.

Ms Quinn said the one positive to come from the note was the kind words and support she received from her local Facebook community group after sharing the note.

“I’ve got people who reached to me and offered me carers packages, and told me they’ve been through the same thing,” she said.

‘Get a life’

Autism Awareness Australia CEO Nicole Rogerson said she was disgusted by the letter.

“It just shows you how completely clueless some people can be,” Ms Rogerson said.

“By all means if you had a noise next door that was disturbing you, you have every right to enquire.

“But once that enquiry results in you understanding someone in your community is dealing with a child with a significant disability, if that isn’t enough to just shut you down and look at your own life and count how lucky you are, then it’s just awful — a mum who is battling anyway to raise a son on the autism spectrum … that she’d have to tolerate a neighbour showing such a lack of understanding.

“It must just be soul crushing.”

Ms Rogerson said parents of children with autism often felt isolated from their communities, and letters such as this just “cement that feeling”.

“I can’t imagine having a life so devoid of anything that your biggest complaint is a boy next door making noises in his garden. Buy a radio and get a life,” she said.

“Learn how to be a better neighbour. Go and see her and ask her if there’s something you can do to make her life a little easier, because I imagine she’s struggling with this boy.

“She’s probably having a pretty rough time with him. How easy is it to just reach out and see if you can be a better neighbour.”

She said this was not the first time she’s heard of anonymous letters targeting children with autism.

“People are just absolutely heartless and people don’t understand disability and don’t know hot to cope with it and don’t know … they’re quite intolerant of autism,” she said.

Ms Rogerson said she did not expect the council to take any action.

“I can’t imagine any council in any way, shape, or form having action towards the mum just trying to raise her kid with a disability,” she said.

“It just shows you an absolutely uncharitable, unneighbourly way of behaving … and all that person’s done is reconfirmed to parents with kids with disabilities that we’re often on our own, we just don’t have community support.”

Topics: disabilities, health, human-interest, people, brisbane-4000, qld

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