By now, many have expressed outrage over this letter. If you missed it, a neighbour wrote this letter to the Milson family in Oshawa Ontario. They have an autistic boy named Max. He’s 13 years old. Here are some of the highlights.
You selfishly put your kid outside everyday and let him be nothing but a nuisance and a problem to everyone else with that noise polluting whaling he constantly makes,” the letter reads. “That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL (sic) !!!!!!!!!!
“We have a nature trail!! Let him run around those places and make noise,” the letter continues. “Crying babies, music and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighborhood!!!!! He is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It goes on to suggest that they consider the idea of “euthanizing” the boy.
We all can agree that this letter is utterly disgraceful and inappropriate. It is right to feel some anger and sadness as I am feeling while writing this too you.
Reading this has led me to conclude some things. The first one being, there is still some ignorance and lack of awareness when it comes to people with disabilities. For many, people with disabilities, or even the idea of having a mental or physical disability has a stigma to it. It is uncomfortable, and as we know as humans, we don’t always like the uncomfortable or the different.
The second thing that this tells me is there is a lack of support for families with children with disabilities. If we examine the letter and look at what possibly happened, I think it’s a safe assumption that Max was discussed by a few people in the neighbourhood. Likely with some laughter and scorn. Also likely, with some criticism towards the family with fingers pointed at the parents. Before this letter, I wonder how many of the neighbours took the time to stand and support or ask about Max? Probably not that many.
If you are a parent, you know the joy, the thrill and the fulfillment your children bring too you. But you also know that you need support. Be it family, friends, or parent groups, it helps.
If you are a family member of someone who needs support for some deep struggle, you know how hard it is on the entire family. It can be divisive, taxing and draining.
Perhaps it’s a good time to examine if there’s enough support for families of children with disabilities?