Neighbour with autism

Hi,

I know this may not be the usual type of post you get but please be kind as I am at the end of my rope. 

I live next door to a young (6) year old boy who has Autism. The family are lovely, however the noise has escalated as the boy has got older to a stage over the last 12 months where I can no longer cope.

when I moved in 2.5 years ago my housemate commented on banging at night. Since then things have progressed to a point now where I kept a log of the amount of noise being made when they are home (I know exactly when they’re in or out due to the constant noise) and not a minute past in an hour long period without banging, tapping, clapping, or crying/screaming. If this is difficult for me this must be difficult for the parents but I also expect they may be better at tuning out than me. The noises during the day are constant. Sometimes it’s banging on the joining wall (where my sofa is and I can’t move the room around to put the tv on the other wall annoyingly), sometimes it’s slamming doors, sometimes whatever they do physically makes the living room shake. During the day has become more of an issue during lock down but sadly the noise isn’t isolated to day times only. The noise at night at its worst will go on for over an hour. The boy gets onto the window ledge and bangs on the bedroom window. This wasn’t so bad when they were in a room further from me but theyve been in the room next door since December time. One night in December I tried sleeping in every room in the house, with ear plugs and I couldn’t block out the noise. My house is newish which doesn’t help as I don’t think they’re very soundproof. 

I’ve tried earplugs, white noise (with headphones and without), changing rooms, sleeping on the other side of my room with furniture piled against the joining wall, nothing stops the noise waking me up. I called my GP for sleeping tablets at the start of lock down and they said no and that in fact the parents should be addressing the behaviour. They also said no to anti depressants and anti anxiety medication for the same reason although this is making me incredibly down and the stress is having an impact on my physical health now too, with swollen glands that won’t go down which my doctor puts down to stress (I’ve taken their word for it as if I google it I’m sure google will tell me I’m already dead). 

The boy is on the trampoline In the garden as late as 11pm on occasion and as early as 7am, this also wakes me up. 

I’ve spoken to the Austim society, the local council, child social services, a SEND person at the school my mum works at, an OT and Environmental health and everyone has told me that the children are over stimulated and possibly lacking in a sufficient routine which is why the issues are getting worse and are what they are now. 

my sleep schedule is dictated by when the boy goes to bed as it’s no good me trying to sleep before the banging has stopped, I’m lucky if I don’t get woken up in the night or before my alarm or at 7am or earlier on weekends, I can’t relax watching tv in the evening (I’ve considered blue headphones For the TV but when I’m home alone I think I’d be paranoid I wouldn’t hear someone knocking at the door or something) 

I have spoken to the Dad before three times and whilst he’s been very kind towards me and understands where I’m coming from he’s not changed anything as far as I can tell, even after I gave them a list of information I’d gathered after speaking to all of the people listed above (I promise it wasn’t in a condescending way, and I wouldn’t have done it had I thought for a moment it may have come across that way). Last time I spoke to him I broke down in tears which I felt very guilty for but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been on the phone in tears to my mum so many nights and I’m at such a loss.

everyone is telling me to make a noise complaint - not to punish the family but to help local services engage with them to try to see what can be done, if anything, to help everyone. At first I thought this was purely my issue but the more people I speak to the more I realise the boy probably isn’t getting the routine and structure he needs either if he’s getting less sleep than I want to. 

I don’t want to upset my neighbours, I know this must be very difficult for them and they do feel bad for me but I also know they love their son and that love go some way to easing the other emotions and it would be so rewarding to have a child but I don’t have any of those bonds to keep me sane. 

I know what you’ll all say - get over it and move. I saved for my whole twenties to get the deposit for this house and currently I couldn’t afford the fees to sell and move back in with my mum (locked into a 5 year remortgage with £5k early exit fees) not to mention I’d waste money selling all my furniture etc. I can’t afford to move elsewhere due to the fees involved and how little equity I have in the house (also it’s shared ownership as that’s all I can afford). Also I’m genuinely worried about when I do eventually sell if I can one day move out with my boyfriend as I’ll have to declare the noise and I dread to think how much worse it’ll be by then, not declaring it is unfair and also legally I could get in trouble for not telling someone about the noise (I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience anyway, no one deserves to live like this). 

the neighbours are end of terrace so there’s no chance anyone else is going to say anything although we do live on a built up estate so I expect when the kids are in the garden a lot of other people must be able to hear, considering when I’ve walked home from the shops I can hear it from about 50 yards away. The neighbours on the other side of me have considered making a complaint as the banging can be heard through my house and in theirs and wakes them up at night and bothers them during the day. 
as far as I know my neighbours own their house.

what do I do now? I don’t think I’ve listed every single detail as it would take me too long but I need to know where to go from here. Even if I could move does it seem right that whoever lives next door to the family will never get to enjoy their home or a full nights sleep? 

as I said, please be kind to me. I’m not a parent, I’m not an autism expert, and until I’d started asking around I thought constant noise daily and sometimes during the night was to be expected but if there’s a chance that actually there is more that could be done or it would be worth making a noise complaint to get the services to actually engage with the family, thus helping their son, them and me that would be an option I may have to consider. 

if you want to tell me to go kill myself (I’ll admit it’s crossed my mind as the only way out of this situation vs losing all my money but I’d rather end up with no money than dead, but are they reallyyyyy my only 2 options?)  and shame on me etc that’s fine but pls know I’ve spent hours reading the internet, contacting people, collating the information to give to my neighbours etc and people who have spent 5 minutes in my house have told me they’d have made a noise complaint months ago so I won’t take any notice of such negativity. This isn’t my child and no matter how empathetic and kind I am, and I am, I can not force myself to sleep through the sound of not feel like crying after hours of banging. Yes I know that’s nothing compared to what the parents must experience but as I said above, the parents also get the joy and reward of a lovely, cheeky little boy and all I get is swollen glands and swollen eyes from the stress. 

Oh also my lodger is threatening to move out if I don’t do something to fix the noise as he’s a fireman and needs his sleep more than me, so no pressure on me. I couldn’t get another lodger, I’d be wasting my time. If he goes that’s me further away saving enough to sell this place and move with my boyfriend in a few years.

thanks for reading, I can’t say everything I want to say but someone pls tell me what I should do :(

  • Have you called NSPCC or Social Services.? 

    Does sound like the parents are not meeting the child’s needs. 

    Funny thing is -I’m autistic and live next door to similar noise except it’s from the parents who are not autistic just fecking ass holes. The mum screeches at the children like they’re dirt. 

    They’re millennials and honestly selfish as Fxck. Totally inconsiderate. The dad is on anabolic steroids and has small man syndrome too Bet you your neighbours are millennials too. 

  • I know a fair few parents of autistic kids and the parents are all anti autism - they hate it. They hate autistic adults even more. It’s all about them not the kids - their poor little lives desperate to have a normal child so the ASD kid picks up on this and there’s a double empathy situation that’s way to complex for the NT parents mind to understand. So the ASD children ‘act’ badly for attention etc. 

  • I know what you’ll all say - get over it and move. I saved for my whole twenties to get the deposit for this house and currently I couldn’t afford the fees to sell and move back in with my mum (locked into a 5 year remortgage with £5k early exit fees) not to mention I’d waste money selling all my furniture etc. I can’t afford to move elsewhere due to the fees involved and how little equity I have in the house (also it’s shared ownership as that’s all I can afford). Also I’m genuinely worried about when I do eventually sell if I can one day move out with my boyfriend as I’ll have to declare the noise and I dread to think how much worse it’ll be by then, not declaring it is unfair and also legally I could get in trouble for not telling someone about the noise (I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience anyway, no one deserves to live like this). 

    The only person whose behaviour you can control is your own, as such I believe the emphasis needs to be on you and what are you going to do. If you've been there for 2.5 years, you only have 2.5 to go. That's nothing in the grand scheme of things. Have you tried putting up soundproofing boards? These can be purchased cheaply. If preventing you from losing money on furniture is more important than getting out of that situation is it really that bad? 

    The noise is only one part of your issue. Are you doing anything about your situation re living in a shared ownership scheme, having a limited income and having to share your home etc? That would be stressful for anyone. I used to have a similar life to you e.g struggled financially, had narrow-minded people around me etc. I worked my socks to get out of that situation, having a full-time job and studying in the evening. Life is a lot less stressful now and I only surround myself with healthy relationships. I too used to feel suicidal but haven't in years.

    As an autistic individual, the small child who is your neighbour is having to operate in a world where his needs haven't been thought about in the design processes of the built environment or societies social structures. He also is surrounded by others who aren't sympathetic to the severe distress he is showing, for example, instead of being loving and kind adults are telling others to complain about him. This little lad has far more to cope with than you and you are feeling incredibly emotional - think what it's like for him.

    How do these people think complaining will help? Personally, I believe it will cause far more issues than it would solve. It would be a lot more effective and far kinder to build a relationship with the young boy and his family, find out what his causing him so much distress and to help him (as well as the wider autistic society) by advocating for his needs. For example, if you find out the school environment is a sensory nightmare you write to the head teacher, explain how the issue affects the little boy and others in his life in order to help these members of staff develop a greater insight into how their behaviour (including the design of the school) impacts upon wider society. If you followed this route your actions may effect change and to reduce some of the pressure they put on the boy and the noise he makes.

  • There's nothing worse than being driven nuts in your own house.

    However, there's a few things you can do -

    Sell the house - you may take a financial hit but it might be worth it long term.

    Engage with the boy - it's better to be a part of the noise than to have it done to you without your consent.   Spend time teaching him that calm,quiet activities with you are a way to reduce his stress - noughts & crosses, drawing. colouring etc.

    Rent the house - there's always someone who will be able to ignore the noise if the property has lots of positives (people live next to railways, pubs and motorways if it suits them)

    Soundproofing - not a guaranteed art - it depends a lot on the structural design of the property.

    Live with it - he's 6 - in a few of years he'll be 10 - and behaviour changes dramatically as we grow up.

    Complain to the council - but be aware that if you make any dispute official, you must declare it if you sell the house.