Stimming behaviors are very common in the autism community as a way to self-stimulate when needed or self-soothe in stressful situations. Different people use different stimulating behaviors, and these sometimes include loud verbal noises. It is generally recommended that people don’t interfere with stimming behaviors unless they are potentially harmful to the person or those around them.
6-year-old Kayla Newton has nonverbal autism, and one of the common stimming behaviors she uses to regulate her sensory input is verbalizing. Her family is doing their best to help her learn and grow and be a functioning member of society, but they, like most autism families, do not believe in suppressing her stims.
Kayla is a normal 6-year-old for the most part. She enjoys spending lots of time outside and loves lollipops. But because she cannot put her feelings into words, she uses noises and movements to communicate, get her energy out, and calm herself down.
Sadly, however, not everyone in the neighborhood is totally understanding of Kayla’s disorder and her need to just spend time being a kid. Her parents were distraught recently after receiving an anonymous letter from some of their neighbors asking them to reduce their daughter’s “episodes” for the good of the rest of the neighborhood.
The family, who lives in El Dorado Hills, California, found the letter on their doorstep as they were leaving the house one Saturday and were horrified to see what it said. The letter went as follows:
We reach out to you in the spirit of compassion, to address our concerns about the well-being of the neighborhood. As you may or may not be aware, many of us are being affected by your daughter’s long periods of shrieking throughout the day. Please know that we have empathy for your very difficult situation. Unfortunately, we are quite disturbed by this as it has a very real impact on our peace and quiet, as well as the enjoyment of our backyards. Many of us are working from home and are on video calls with our clients who can hear this distressing sound. We would be so appreciative if you could try to reduce the length and time and frequency of these episodes so that we may resume some periods of tranquility that we previously enjoyed.
“It’s very hurtful to read that stuff,” says Kayla’s mother, Monica Newton. “This is our child. If we could help her, we would.”
She continues, “For somebody to say that she’s shrieking and it’s ruining their life, what about her life? What about her? She’s a […] child, she’s 6-years old.”
The family has been living in their neighborhood for more than three years. Kayla’s parents don’t believe that the neighbors closest to their house had any hand in writing the letter, but they wish some of their more distant neighbors could show more understanding for their situation.
“There’s a whole world people don’t see [that] parents like us experience day-to-day. That’s what I would share,” says Kayla’s dad, Kevin Newton.Whizzco