The family has a 13 year old autistic child that appears to be non-verbal and low functioning. I have an autistic grandchild who lives with us that is 5 years old, non-verbal, and low functioning. His mom has MS and is getting worse. I’m getting older.
It is very hard to steer these children into appropriate activities. The tendency is to engage in repetitive behaviors that are annoying. When they are redirected, they tend to fight back, sometimes aggressively. Leaving them to their own devices means they tend to wail, scream, run, and bang into stuff. My grandchild likes to remove clothing and smear feces when she’s not climbing, jumping, walking the deck rail, eating plant life, or eating and drinking someone else’s stuff. Never a dull moment.
We (presciently) planted trees all around our back yard when we moved in 2 decades ago, which is fenced in. While the trees provide a visual screen and maybe even a sound screen, I am very aware that we are noisy – and she is sometimes naked. My granddaughter’s first name is often the first word out of my mouth, followed by “Don’t!” or “Stop!”, or “Get down!”.
We are probably not considered the best neighbors. But I have had worse. None of which moved me to send an anonymous letter to them telling them what a pain-in-the-butt it is to have them as a neighbor. I have never suggested (out loud or in print) that anyone was better off dead. Some things are better left unsaid.
I am well aware that my granddaughter may never be a “contributing” member of society as is commonly thought of, and I mourn that. But my granddaughter has also caused me to reconsider what constitutes “contributing”. If anything, she contributes to society by making others thankful they have normal kids. She does a great job of keeping food and drink out of the pool area of our neighborhood pool by helping herself to those things (since we have a no food policy, I don’t do much to stop her). I have become much better at putting things away and simplifying our lives. I have a much clearer idea of what is important and what hill I’m willing to die on. I’ve also learned to say no and not feel guilty. There is only so much I can do and the family comes first, and then I need my rest.
Life is messy even in the best of circumstances. I’m not asking you to walk in my shoes, I’m just asking that you show a little compassion while I walk in my shoes.