I’ve lived with my son in the same apartment for the last 7 years. We’ve enjoyed living here and have not experienced any problems with our neighbors. We all lead our own busy lives, but when we see our neighbors at community events or around the complex, the exchange is warm and friendly.
Unfortunately, my son’s disability is affecting our neighbors in a way I never imagined. I didn’t even realize there was a couple living next door until a few weeks ago. It turns out they’ve lived there 5 months. Our schedules are very different, so our paths had never crossed. Imagine my surprise when my new neighbor knocked on my door at 10:30 one night and asked if my son could keep his voice down.
In addition to autism, my young adult son also has Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This causes him to constantly pace back and forth, continuously talk to himself about the same subject, and speak loudly.
Apparently, the walls are thinner than I thought, and his loud voice was keeping them awake. She explained that they wake up very early and need their sleep. I felt terrible! I explained why my son constantly talks and why his voice is loud, and she was very sympathetic. I introduced her to my son and he apologized. I thought the problem was resolved.
I could not have been more wrong. Within 2 weeks, she knocked on my door again and was very frustrated. She knows he can’t help it, but the noise was keeping them awake. I apologized multiple times and knew I had to do something. I could feel the tension as we talked and had to hold back the tears.
I met with the leasing manager the next day and explained the situation. I told her a friend had suggested that I install thick foam to help absorb the sound. While I was relieved to have a possible solution, it cost me $360 for three-inch thick foam, which was not in my budget. Fortunately, my friend installed it for free. I texted my neighbor and she said the foam helped a little bit. What? Only a little bit? I thought it would have helped a lot. She thanked me for being proactive and said they would let me know if the issue persisted.
I love my son, and while I know his constant, loud talking is very hard on others, he can’t help it and it’s who he is. It is very stressful wondering if I will get another knock on my door. Time will tell and I am truly hoping for the best!
Circles of support are so important for parents of children with disabilities. Sometimes it helps to connect with other parents who understand that we are all doing the best we can. You can use the Navigate Life Texas search tool to help find support groups and events near you.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.