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Son’s stimming disturbing neighbours

8 replies

Namechange222223334 · 19/06/2023 06:46

Name changed for this as I’ve spoken to a few people IRL. I’ve posted in this topic as opposed to chat/AIBU as I’m hoping to get replies from people who understand the issue.

My next door neighbour came round last night at about 8pm to complain that my son’s head banging is disturbing his children’s sleep.

My son is almost two. We suspect autism but, as you know, a diagnosis is a long wait. He is a twin and we had to remove the cot sides as his sister started climbing out and it was becoming dangerous as she was climbing into his cot. We have put a stair gate on their door to keep them safe as we have other children (one of whom is also autistic!) who like to leave Lego and other choking hazards lying around and they sometimes forget to close the stair gate at the top of the stairs.

My son likes to head bang on the stair gate. It is noisy. When we took the sides off the cot, I put a note through my neighbour’s door to say that we were sorry for the noise and we would try as best as we could to minimise it but as he’s got SEN, this is how he self regulates and he might stop doing it when he’s used to the new room layout. I put this note through because my neighbour is sensitive to noise anyway (he’s complained before, about 3 times, about things like my front door being too noisy, for example) so I wanted to apologise in advance as I knew he’d be annoyed and also I know it is annoying.

When he came round last night it wasn’t a respectful or constructive conversation. He basically asked me why I wasn’t doing anything to stop his head banging and that if I let it continue he would just “make it his way.” I explained that you’re not supposed to prevent an autistic child from stimming as it’s how they self regulate. He got annoyed, stormed off and said “well you’re renting aren’t you, so I’ll sort it out.” I took this as him making some sort of threat and I wonder what he’s planning to do, like contact my lettings agent or complain to the police/social services/council. It also felt a bit like a dig because we don’t own our home. This makes me incredibly anxious and I hate the thought that he might behave maliciously. I tried to respond to him objectively and factually but he obviously didn’t like the fact that I didn’t offer some sort of miracle solution to the problem.

For last night, we found an old cot mattress to put across the gate to try and dampen some of the sound. The problem is that if he doesn’t get the necessary level of sensory input then he’ll just head bang somewhere else like the door (latched open to accommodate the stair gate), the closed side of the cot or the radiator cover and all these things are equally as loud. My mum is bringing some foam over that we can try and fit to the gate and other areas to try and dampen the noise further.

I’m at a loss as to what to do. We can’t stop him head banging. If we try to sit in his room with him then he just won’t go to sleep. The irony is that both twins are excellent sleepers and I don’t really want to upset their routine. We considered swapping their room with their brothers (another set of twins, I know!) but their bunk beds won’t fit in this room. We only have three bedrooms.

My son receives monthly portage visits so will speak to his portage worker for advice next time we see her.

I feel so conflicted. I feel terrible that we’re disturbing the neighbours but equally my child has special needs and he can’t help his behaviour. He’s also only 23 months old so can’t understand if we try and explain it to him. It just makes me feel so sick and anxious that there’s tension with next door. If I could, I’d just move to a four bedroom detached house where I wouldn’t have to upset my neighbours. Unfortunately we don’t have the funds to do this.

I don’t know what I’m looking for with this post. Maybe some advice on how to manage my son’s stimming? I think I also just needed to write it all out. I hardly slept last night as I was so anxious. Any time I thought my son was stimming I was wide awake trying to make sure I could get up and stop him. Ironically, he didn’t do any stimming during the night. And, to be honest, he rarely does it in the middle of the night and if he does I get up and sit with him. He really only does it when he’s trying to get himself to sleep. He does usually go to sleep very quickly but last night it took him a while. We’re really not horrible neighbours and I try so hard to be considerate. I’m constantly shushing my other children and encouraging them to be considerate themselves because I know my next door neighbour is sensitive to noise. My next door neighbour is not the most considerate but I’m not interested in playing tit for tat so I’ve not mentioned any of his previous indiscretions here and I deliberately didn’t bring these up when he came round last night!

Thanks for reading if you got this far and any help would be greatly appreciated.

OP posts:
ThomasWasTortured · 19/06/2023 12:03

Has DS had a sensory OT assessment?

What kind of stairgate do you have? Could you swap it for a soft mesh one? Less risk of DS hurting himself, and the added benefit of it making less noise.

Have you considered a safespace bed or similar? Not necessarily because of the sound but for DS’s safety.

Are you renting privately or via the council/housing association? If council have you requested an assessment for medically needing a larger property (although I appreciate the wait in many areas is long)? If private and you are in receipt of UC are you receiving the 4 bed rate? You could also look at a DFG.

openupmyeagereyes · 19/06/2023 12:29

You’re not supposed to just let them stim if that stim is harmful to themselves or others. Does he have an occupational therapist that you can discuss this with?

Head-banging can be due to anxiety or overwhelm, which you’d seek to reduce. If it’s a stim then try other activities that seek to give a similar input - this is what the OT could support.

openupmyeagereyes · 19/06/2023 12:32

By harmful to others I mean if he was biting a sibling for example, not annoying the neighbours.

I know it’s not easy.

SpikyMetalCircleMaker · 19/06/2023 14:45

Totally understand your stress and anxiety about the neighbour, that's really difficult.

Sounds like longer term as others have said you need an OT to help with a longer term solution.

And you need something shorter term too so conflict with neighbour doesn't escalate.

Can you explain again about the bunk beds/why you can't swap the bedrooms over between the two twins? Could we help you brainstorm a solution to this in the short term?

Longer term I wonder about soundproofing for the wall between the bedroom and the neighbour. Could you write to your landlord explaining the situation and asking them to install soundproofing?

That way you could also write to your neighbour and say you've contacted the landlord to enquire about this. You could phrase it carefully and include some language about having asked for a reasonable adjustment to the property on grounds of your child's disability, and possibly some other careful language that might flag to your neighbour that the dialogue needs to be had respectfully and carefully.

Namechange222223334 · 19/06/2023 15:31

Thanks to all for your replies, I really appreciate it. We’ve not had an OT assessment, how would I go about getting one? We rent privately. We do receive a very small amount of universal credit and we don’t always receive it every month because my DH’s income fluctuates with the availability of overtime. I’m not sure what the 4 bed rate is.

His stimming doesn’t seem to cause him any harm, he doesn’t bang his head violently. It’s more that he rocks on all fours and likes to bang/bump his head on something when he does the forward motion. He tends to do this when he’s settling himself down for sleep. We’ve considered a mesh gate but I think his sister might be able to escape it - she’s pretty crafty! The gate we’ve got is one of the taller metal ones as I expect she’d climb over a standard one.

OP posts:
ThomasWasTortured · 19/06/2023 19:08

In some areas you can self refer to OT. If you can’t the GP, paed or HV should be able to. Not all areas commission sensory OT on the NHS, if your ICB doesn’t it is still worth a referral for other aspects of OT. If you request an EHCNA and the LA agree to assess one can also be part of that.

With UC, the amount you get as housing element depends, in part, on how many bedrooms you are allowed. It is worth checking you are getting the 4 bed rate, rather than 3.

Amelia891 · 20/06/2023 15:51

Hi @Namechange222223334 , I feel your pain, my youngest is a headbanger, it’s been going on for a year. I have spoken to our HV and an OT, the OT sent me a document with lots of proprioception exercises on, the theory being that if the child gets the feedback through other ways the rocking will reduce.

If I’m being honest none of the exercises have worked for us to reduce the rocking however that’s not to say they wouldn’t work for some people. Happy to send you the document if you want it, DM me if so.

cansu · 20/06/2023 22:02

Get advice from an OT. Try not to worry about your neighbour. I had similar problems once with a neighbour when I rented. It was very upsetting as there was nothing I could do about my ds's behaviour. If he does cause trouble I would say that he is harassing you and your family because of your sons disability. Some stims are impossible to stop and doing so will as you know redirect the behaviour to something else that can be equally or more harmful. We eventually were able to move somewhere else where we were able to move my son's rooms away from our shared wall.

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