Friday, September 11, 2009

Can A Special Needs Family Be Good Neighbors?

How would you feel if you received the following email from your downstairs neighbors (in an apartment building).? To be sure, I have pads, rugs, and carpets in my home as the rules of my apartment building requires but they do run around and wake up as early as 5:00 AM. I do try to curb their running and jumping but it's not always possible because that is the way a 2 year old with PDD and a 5 year old with ADHD moves about in their abode. I've told my downstairs neighbors that they have neurological disorders but noise is still noise. Take a read and if you have any advice, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment.

The past couple of months have been rough in regard to the noise. It is not fair to have to keep a broomstick nearby just to have peace and quiet. I'm not sure what to do from here as I've been continuously woken up before my morning alarm and whenever I try to take naps. Not to mention the embarrassment we feel when company comes over.

To say the least, the noise level is by far the worst it has ever been. We are not sure what has changed but it's become pretty intolerable. This has influenced mine and CCC's* decision to move out when our lease is up. We both feel we have been fair and tolerant neighbors. We've never complained to management and always come to you first.

We are aware that you have 'no-running' rules for the kids to follow, but rules with kids do not mean anything if they are not constantly reinforced. It is not your fault that the walls are thin but please be respectful of us. We don't know who your new neighbors will be but for the past 4 years you've been lucky to have twenty-somethings like AAAA and BBBB, and CCC and I. Please do something about the noise.



* AAA and BBB are the masks of real names of former roommates. CCC and DDD are the current tenants downstairs. Also, the email did come in bold print.

** I think the person needs to take "naps" because she works at night.

I want to tell them that Spencer is the cause of much of the noise and his behavior has worsened the past month for unknown reasons. I want to explain to them that behavior changes take time even if they are reinforced. I also want to tell them that even though it is the summer and they would assume that my children would be out more gettting their energy out, they are stuck at home because of therapy. (One needs to have it and the other one needs to stay home because I need to be home when a therapist is treating my son.) I'd like to also tell them that things will get better now that the kids will be in school.

I also want to remind them that I told them that because he is so young, it is really difficult to curb this behavior. Perhaps I could be bold enough to say that if they were causing the same amount of noise because they were walking around the house and making noise because they have a physical disability (like a wheelchair), I would bet that I wouldn't be receiving such an email. I also want to tell them that I let them watch way too much t.v. (Spencer watches strapped in a highchair) and play videogames (Logan) so that they won't make noise while I get things done.

I want to say all these things but my social worker and husband believe I've been too conciliatory so I think I will just not respond. All my therapists who have been in my apartment when the neighbors bang up on the ceiling think that the noise Spencer creates isn't that bad at all. I try to be understanding and say that they must feel cumulative resentment and only bang up when they have had enough.

I remember discussing a similar issue with a lawyer when another building resident yelled at my children. While I am not concerned that I'll face punitive charges by my building management, I think I'll ask her for her thoughts on my rights and responsibilities on this issue. I'll be sure to share it if I find some answers.

Click here to read my last post on what to do with neighbor troubles. I guess some things work and somethings don't.

I guess you can't blame the judging... they really do look so very typical and in many ways they are, right? I'm not a fan of juice boxes but once in a while I let them have it and they were so happy having their juice box moment.


Elyse Orecchio said...

All those things that you mentioned wanting to say, I think you should go ahead and say. You have the advantage of communicating by email (I don't think I've ever had a neighbor's email address in my life?).

I don't see the point of ignoring the email. Especially if she's moving, you can finally have your say.

I'd be curious to know what you find out about your rights, too.

I'm so, so, sorry. I've been there. Theo ran back and forth in our last apt. endlessly. There was NO stopping him. It eventually got better. I'm sure it will for you, too.


There is a saying and I don't remember how it goes but it's something like, "He who speaks last looks like an a**." That's not the exact phrase but I can't remember for the life of me what the correct phrase is.

Personally, as much as I really, really would want to say something if I were in your shoes, I would ignore the email. I think a lot of times people don't really want to help at all, but rather, try and bait someone into an argument...and I think that's what your neighbor is attempting.

Live your life and raise your boys and ignore this ignorant person. Really....what do you have to gain by taking the time to try and educate someone who clearly does not "get it?"

Kim said...

If they are moving, perhaps you can see about moving to one of their apartments. Then there would be less worry about the noise made running and jumping. And less stress on you.

Jenn said...

Kim, Great idea however, there would be people under us even if we moved to their apartment so it would be useless. I have decided that since their email doesn't ask me any questions and doesn't seem to look for any response on my part, I can only try harder to keep them quiet and not bother trying to explain anything anymore. It's useless. Wbo knows when if and if they'll really move and what is most important to me to help my children walk more "normally" and help them reduce the need to jump and stomp about less. This goal won't change no matter who lives under us.

Hartley said...

I am thinking I would respond. And here is why:

1. To let the neighbors know that I heard their concenrs and am addressing them.


2. To address, in writing, that my children have diagnosed nuerological issues that create the noise concerns so that my position was clearly and regularly documented for future use.

I wouldn't spend too much time explainging too much. They probably don't want that, but they do want to be heard. That is what we all want.

I would write a simple non-argumentative email like this:

Dear neighbor,

I received your email and understand your concerns. I am truly sorry you feel the noise is intolerable and want you to know that I am aware of this and working towrds solution.

Please note that my sons have diagnosed nuerological issues, as I have previously mentioned, and that we are doing everything in our power to work with them so they may lead normal and healthy lives. This creates issues that you may not be familiar with, but part of that is an excess of energy that is not readily "worn" off like neurotypical kids.

I am sure you feel for our situation as we feel for yours. Thank you for your continued understanding.


Jenn said...

Hey everyone,
Thanks again for your advice. I thought about it and decided to follow Hartley's advice. It makes sense that they want to be heard because if they are really intending to move out, their only reason for communicating with me is to tell me how they feel and to ask that I keep it down while they're still here.

So I wrote to them something very similar to what Hartley suggested and bought even more padding for my apartment and decided to just move on. Someday.... I will get to move out too, hopefully to a space that is more accommodating to their sensory needs.

Barb said...

IF they're moving out when their lease ends I guess I'd just leave them alone. For being 20-something, they seem like they're attitudinally (is that a word?? LOL) about 90!

Definitely I think it's good to find out what your rights are. If you have carpeting, rugs, etc, that fit with the requirements of noise control, doesn't seem like there's much more to do.

I am sorry to hear that they are making your life stressful.

BTW, I love the pic of the boys on the bench with their juice boxes!


Barb said...


First, I am sorry that this has happened to you!

I think you're right to find out your rights. I would definitely want to be sure you're doing all you can to be in compliance with the noice abatement.

I would not feel compelled to talk with these neighbors at all. If they're going to be moving out anyway when their lease ends. For people who are 20-something, they seem attitudinally (is that a word? LOL) about 90! That's unfortunately. EVERYONE at one time or another in their life needs understanding and even compassion.

Good luck!


Mrs. M said...

Ah, the neighbor issues! They are one way shape or form.
I'm so sorry that you & your family are dealing with this. it's hard...
Is there a property manager/landlord that you should cc on all this so that if it comes up again, you've covered your bases?
And I agree with Kim & you about moving to a main floor abode. The stress isn't worth you or your little people. They're kids! All kids are noisy!
Good luck. I hope it all works in your favor and that your new neighbors are understanding with their own "noisy" family!:)

Karen Griffith Gryga said...


I just did a post, "What I Would Want a Mother of a Typical Needs Child to Know" ( in which I referenced your armor blog. I wish there was something universal that we all could use to quickly educate those around us to respect and understand our situation.

Hang in there.