Ana Gray, from Napier, New Zealand, is a single mom to four children, including a seven-year-old boy named Wiremu. Five years ago, Wiremu was diagnosed with autism and Global Development Delay (GDD), which causes some sensory issues. One of the ways Wiremu deals with these issues is by yelling, so he spends a fair portion of his free time at home, because taking him out in public can be difficult.
However, not everyone in the neighborhood is happy about having a little extra noise on the block. On New Year’s Day, Gray opened her mailbox to find a threatening note from one of her neighbors. The note read:
“If you don’t stop that kid yelling I will ring child support and report you. We all getting sick of the yelling and also ring your landlord [sic].”
The note was not signed, and there was no information about who sent it, so there’s little hope of resolving the issue with a simple face-to-face conversation. Gray was taken aback by the nastiness and appalled that someone would consider calling not just her landlord but also child protective services just because her son is a little noisier than other children his age.
“I understand why my neighbours would complain; he is very loud and has his random outbursts almost every day,” she said.
However, although Gray says she realizes that the yelling can be annoying at times, and she even struggles with it herself, there’s not much she can do until she’s able to get Wiremu in to see the pediatrician in the hopes of getting more help for him. She apologized to her neighbors publicly on Facebook and explained that the yelling is Wiremu’s way of dealing with his autism.
“We’re only trying to live life as each day goes by in the hopes that things will only get better for us,” said Gray. She added, “There’s nothing I can do about it right now.”
Gray’s landlord knows about her son’s condition and has not received any complaints about Wiremu’s behavior before the nasty note.
The anonymous note has simply ended up adding more stress to an already difficult situation. Now, on top of worrying about the well-being of her children and trying to help Wiremu with his autism symptoms, she has to be concerned about the possibility of getting kicked out of her home or having her children taken away from her.
“I love my son to pieces,” said Gray. “He may not be perfect to others, but he is perfect to me.”
Wiremu’s behavior has become more of a challenge as he gets older, but his mom is hopeful that things will change for the family soon, after he is able to get more medical and therapeutical help. The family is on a waiting list to see a pediatrician at the moment. For now, however, there’s only one thing that seems to keep Wiremu quiet, and it’s not exactly something he can have access to all the time.
“The only thing I can do to keep him calm and quiet is to let him have my cell phone which has Minecraft [Wiremu’s favourite game] installed on it for him to play on all day every day,” said Gray.
What would you do if a neighbor made a threat like this about someone in your family? We can only hope that this issue resolves itself and Gray and Wiremu get the help they need before the neighbor decides to execute their plan.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?