Autism and Too Much Stuff
I recently read an article about a family with a child on the autism spectrum. The family purchased a lot of play structures for their front yard.
They did this because they have a child on the autism spectrum. They discovered that their child benefits from movement. They purchased lots of play structures and placed them on their spacious front lawn.
This, apparently, irked their neighbors. Why all the stuff on your lawn? they asked and demanded it be removed. An eyesore, they said.
This got me the thinking about our situation.
What was our situation?
Our child received OT services from a facility or at his school.
When OT was new to our lives, I remember hearing that some families create OT “spaces” in their homes. They buy equipment (swings, bouncy balls, trampolines) and the OT comes to them.
We didn’t really have the space for that situation, yet we did try to help our child out with OT by always having a smallish trampoline. (We really didn’t have the space for one of the big ones.)
When my son was little, he used it A LOT.
We also have stairs that lead to our second floor.
I remember having a before-school routine with my son. He did much better in school if he went with his “engine” calmed. That meant physically getting him to do something at home to regulate his body (i.e. calm his engine).
I would have him bounce on his trampoline or run the stairs a few times.
He would push the wall or hug himself.
We have a routine where he would do one thing on a certain day of the week.
It seemed to me that this family with all of the stuff is thinking along those same lines. Provide as many outlets to help our child. It’s the child.
It was working… until the neighbors began to have a problem with the outdoor stuff.
According to the article, neighbors sent a letter to this family about their play equipment. They complained about the stuff being an eyesore and bringing down the quality of the neighborhood.
Stuff like this makes me wince.
Yes, I suppose those neighbors could have a point. When I see a trashy yard in my neighborhood, I think, “That’s lowering the value of my home.”
But, first of, did the neighbors know about the child on the autism spectrum? And, do they know what that means? Truly?
Second, what is the different between three or four play structures and a big ass pool in a yard?
Or, a basketball court?
Or a giant trampoline with one of those nets?
Aren’t those eyesores as well?
What about that one neighbor that we all have that puts way too many Christmas decorations out?
That’s only a temporary eyesore, I suppose. But, it is different?
And, isn’t the reason for all of that stuff much more legitimate? It’s not just too much stuff or the sake of spoiling a child. It’s there for a reason!
Where does my child fit into this subject?
The trampoline is long gone.
He still uses his big yoga ball, though.
Mostly, he regulates his body by Razoring on his scooter. He sometimes has to Razor near the house, if it’s dark out. But, he’s old enough now to go Razor by himself on the sidewalk and down the street.
Does his Razoring (and sometimes talking to himself while he’s on it) disturb our neighbors?
My son wears a helmet and does not Razor on our neighbor’s driveways. He’s reasonably respectful to their property and to other people he meets on the street.
Not one neighbor has said anything to me about his Razoring (and self-talk) being a problem.
And, really, I wouldn’t care if they did. I would like the opportunity to explain it to them. And, if they didn’t accept my explanation…oh, well. It’s not my problem. It’s theirs.
What my son is doing is two-fold; he’s being a teenager by having some alone time out of the house and he’s regulating his body due to his autism.
Back to the article:
I wonder if those neighbors really care WHY those folks have all of that stuff.
Doesn’t matter to them, right? It’s how it “looks” that bothers them.
Why, folks, sometimes autism looks that way.
We removed a pool in our yard when we first moved it. We felt it would cost too much to maintain, keeping it meant we had no yard, and we had a small child at the time. We were afraid of having him too near a pool all the time.
We made a decision that was right for us.
Looks aren’t everything. Maybe talk to your neighbors and find out WHY they do things that, to you, might seem extravagant or weird or whatever. Why it might not LOOK right.
Nothing wrong with talking to your neighbors, folks.
There is something about rushing to judgments and sending letters when you don’t know the whole situation. Or, when it only affects you.
Living with others is a two-way street (pun intended)!
Autism and Too Much Stuff
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