Parents of autistic boy refuse to act over noise complaints

“Perhaps the Clarington incident gave encouragement to the Ottawa parents, who moved into their present living quarters a month or so after the Clarington incident was first reported.  They have just been issued with formal notices to correct the situation, failing which eviction proceedings may be commenced.  They have been there for less than a month, the complaints started immediately, and the child is eight years old.”

The story in the Toronto Sun yesterday about an Ottawa couple with a noisy and disruptive autistic son upsetting the neighbours comes a little too close on the heels of the upset caused in August by an intemperate letter sent to the family of a similar child in Clarington for my liking.

Reproduced further down is the draft of a letter I just sent in to the Toronto Sun on the Ottawa incident, which should be self-explanatory.

The Clarington incident was caused by a frustrated neighbour who didn’t know how to handle the matter and “lost it” by writing what became known as the “Clarington hate letter”, causing me to respond in a letter published in Oshawa This Week that “I think it unfortunate that this nasty, intemperate letter has resulted in a massive wave of sympathy for people who can indeed be a thorough nuisance, and who can seriously damage the quality of life for people living in close proximity to them… Unfortunately, the revulsion caused by the letter writer’s hostile tone and unfortunate choice of language has turned this into a one-sided issue, which could encourage the parents of such children to greater and greater heights of “entitlement” when they are asked to control the noise level.”

Perhaps the Clarington incident gave encouragement to the Ottawa parents, who moved into their present living quarters a month or so after the Clarington incident was first reported.  They have just been issued with formal notices to correct the situation, failing which eviction proceedings may be commenced.

They have been there for less than a month, the complaints started immediately, and the child is eight years old.

Has this happened before?  Quite probably.  Was it predictable?  Definitely.  Are they deliberately trying to “empower” themselves by picking a fight with their  landlord that they will not have to finance, by going through the Human Rights Commission (HRC)?

That is pure speculation on my part, but there is nothing so far in this sequence of events to contradict such a notion.

I don’t know how many autistic children there are in Ontario, but reports of disputes over the noise they can make are not that frequent.  The Ottawa parents seem to have dived in with both feet, looking for trouble.  Where did they live before, and are they political activists of any kind?

Legal costs for the parents will be covered by the HRC, but the landlord will have to pay thousands to mount a credible defence, because with the HRC kangaroo courts, the “process” is the punishment.

However, at the Landlord & Tenant Bureau, the parents will have to answer precise allegations by the landlord, and the adjudicator will not be able to make up his own rules of procedure, allow hearsay evidence, or refuse to accept any aspect of the truth as a defence.  And if the family is determined to have breached the Landlord and Tenant Act, they can either leave, or expect a visit from the Sheriff to remove them by force if necessary.

Adjudicators can try to act as peacemakers, or try to buy time for a tenant to leave, but that is not likely to succeed in this case.  The landlord will want to bring his tenants who are complaining with him, as he needs them to prove his case.  And, they are obviously well-motivated to spend a day in court if it will relieve them of their torment.

The danger, of course, is that the adjudicater will be subjected to political or peer pressures, or may feel compelled to find a way to establish a precedent in favour of politically-correct “privilege”, as a matter of self-interest regarding their career prospects and professional standing.

Those who are interested might want to read my post “Balance needed in ‘hateful letter’ issue” which includes the two comments following my letter appearing in Oshawa This Week and my responses to them.

Here is the text of my current letter to the Toronto Sun:

“Re: “Ottawa family faces threat of eviction over autistic son” (Toronto Sun Oct. 12th, 2013).

The noise made by this autistic child is causing distress to close neighbours, and the child’s parents are threatening to go to the Human Rights Commission because of efforts by their landlord to protect the rights of the other tenants.

The family in question has been there less than a month, and the complaints started immediately;  what gives them the right to torment their neighbours in such a manner?  This culture of “victimhood” and “entitlement” will very likely result in tragedy at some point, as neighbours find themselves driven beyond reasonable endurance, and yet unable to obtain redress.

If any relief can be provided to the parents of such children then it certainly should be, and financial assistance with sound-proofing might be a constructive start.  But, I fail to see why their misfortune should have to be a disaster for others, and live-and-let-live can only go so far.

Landlords can’t refuse to rent to a family with an autistic child, yet if they do, they are likely to be taken before the Landlord & Tenant Bureau by their other tenants, and to the Human Rights Commission by the child’s parents.

That is an unreasonable jeopardy, and these parents won’t be able to “create an environment that he can thrive in” for their son if they insist on demanding the right to make life miserable for everyone else.

According to an article posted on the CBC News website yesterday, “The Eastern Ontario Landlord Organization said landlords are obligated to act on complaints about noise from tenants, and tenants are required to keep noise levels down.”

Let’s hope common sense doesn’t get trampled on over this issue; there is quite enough trespassing on the rights of “normal” people already.

Jeff Goodall.

See yesterday’s Toronto Sun article here.

See “Balance needed in ‘hateful letter’ issue” (Sept. 1st, 2013) here.

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