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Neighbours and community

Neighbours are a fundamental element to our lives, from borrowing a cup of sugar to accepting delivery packages, babysitting to exchanging Christmas cards and from chatting by the door to driving each other mad at times 😁.

We live in an apartment complex and have some great neighbours. Three directly next to us are fantastic, Easter eggs for the boys at Easter, little Christmas gifts, sweets at Halloween etc. All 3 know about our lad's diagnosis - they've known him from birth, we've had the same neighbours for around 12 or 13 years now.

The person above us is a whole different kettle of fish. Handwritten notes asking us to keep quiet in the letterbox. Banging on the ceilings. Peering into our windows when they walk past - we live on the ground floor. We found out recently that she did the same to family that lived alongside her and she drove them demented, they wound up moving out to get away, according to one of their neighbours.

We've done different things to try and address any concerns. We've returned notes in the letterbox. We've called to the door (never any answer). We actually even went to the Garda at one stage when it was witnessed that the peering, was taking on a 'peeping' element. We've always smiled and said 'Hello, good morning' and all the other usual civilities.

After receiving one particularly ominous note in the post, describing how our lad was in the hall in his barefeet (one occasion after a meltdown, he went out into the hall to cooldown and wanted to feel the cold floor tiles). We decided to begin to return the notes with little educational snippets on ASD. Surprisingly the notes have decreased in quantity and regularity. The ceiling is still banged when the boys get loud but that feels less invasive - we can't stop two boys getting loud.

Everyone carries their own baggage and burdens along this journey of life. All everyone wants is a little compassion, a little empathy and understanding. Remember though it works both ways - I know this is a very difficult but in the quieter moments, for your own sanity, try to understand that someone making a passing comment or aggravating action - it may say more about them than about you, your child, your parenting. Stay strong and remember that you are doing your best.

With each new dawn comes a new opportunity, a new beginning or even a new 're-set'.

Re-set or re-start is a technique I've used with our lad a good few times, especially if he has struggled in the mornings or early into a journey or activity. We make a pinky promise to each other to try harder, we countdown from 10 and after '1' we greet each other as positively as possible with a fresh new 'good morning'. I probably find it as useful as he does.

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