Autism: The Trouble With Neighbours

10 Oct

On the one side, we have a retired couple. She is an avid gardener, with a magazine worthy yard. He, too, spends much of his time outside tending to the garden, or sitting in the sun. They are a friendly sort of people, very quick to say, “hello.”

They have many cats, just like we do, and will talk to our pets as they see them.

They are also particular about the way things are done – and I always seem to get it wrong. It isn’t them. I know that. It is me. I don’t belong.

Beside them, I feel inadequate. I walk outside, and they are very often there, and I just want to run and hide.

So I plant – because I must – but when it comes time to water, or weed, or even harvest… I often just can’t. Not them. Me. But here I am beside them, and I don’t belong.

Three other houses. One across the street, another two doors down, another diagonal from me. Years ago I watched their children in my daycare. It was a good time, and I think I did a decent job. Then I tried to adopt – with a lot of encouragement from them both before and after placement.

When I had their children in my care, or after, when my children played with theirs, things were okay. They are all very friendly, very social people – but I had things to talk about with them, and nervous as I always was, I did okay.

Then my children were moved, and I was ashamed. I stopped talking. I barely said, “hello,” when I passed them on the street. For years I was bent low with depression and shame, and unable to speak. Now I don’t know how. When we haven’t that in common, what can I talk about? So now I see them. Outside. Visiting with each other. Succeeding in a world where I have failed. Belonging. I don’t belong. I hide.

Surrounding our home are perfectly manicured, nicely landscaped, well decorated, well cared for homes belonging to teachers, doctors, nurses – successful people.

We are the odd house out. My husband and son either don’t notice, or don’t care. This is our house. So what if it isn’t like the others… but I care. I care so much it hurts.

It isn’t them. It is me. I can’t do it. I can’t fit into their world. So strongly aware of an environment in which I don’t belong. Friendly faces full of judgment and hostility that they don’t know I feel. So strong. So loud. So painful. I don’t belong here.

So I hide in my house, as I always have before. I design houses, and dream of moving – as I always did before when the neighbours felt so close, and I felt so inadequate next to them. Now that we own, it isn’t so easy to move. I have never stayed in one place so long before.

So close to others, my own inability to blend in stands out so loud to me, and I cannot ignore it. That is the trouble with neighbours. It isn’t them… it is me. And I wish I was anonymous in this world that is so full of people. Invisible. Apart. Alone.


I cannot grow when I feel them so close to me. Paralyzed by fear, I hide away, and pray that one day I will find a place of my own where I can be alone outside.


Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Autism: Out in Public


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7 responses to “Autism: The Trouble With Neighbours

  1. kazst

    October 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

    About the first couple, I understand that they’re particular about the way things should be done, but I think that should only apply to themselves. If they’re particular about the way you’re doing things, they need to mind their own business. If they’re not minding their own business, then the problem is them, not you.

    But as you know, I had similar concerns about neighbours when I lived in a house. I felt almost paralyzed when it came to leaving the house because they were always looking at me. Now I live in a city apartment where I have no yard and where everyone minds their own business. Most of the people I’m surrounded by can’t even speak English very well (or at all), so no one’s going to bother me about anything. Of course, living in a place like this has its own set of problems.


  2. autismstuff

    October 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I did not get diagnosed until 40. My daughter is also on the spectrum and likely my mother was. Not too long ago, I lived in a neighborhood made up largely of Hispanics with the most beautiful gardens and lawns. I was lucky if I had the energy to cut the grass. Generally, I admired their yards and tried to keep mine from looking terrible, otherwise, I did not care. Maybe counseling will help you to learn to ignore the judgment of others. As you mention, you are “paralyzed with fear.” You don’t want to feel like a prisoner in your home. It just increases your anxiety to care what others think. As I’m sure you know, when one is on the autism spectrum, one ends up standing out by word or action for being different. I learned to accept that that’s just the way it is. I don’t know if you are taking any anxiety meds, but meds like Effexor XR also help with social anxiety. I have been taking it for many years, that may be how I got the strength to just roll with it for being different..


    • Walkinfaith925

      October 14, 2015 at 11:53 am

      I tried the effexor, but it sent shocks through my head and arms. Most anti-depressants do that to me. I am on some now, but whenever they try to move me to or past the lowest dose, the shocks always start up again, and they move to something else. It might be nice to not care what other people think, but unfortunately, I really, really care. My counselor might work on this at some point, but right now she is working on my many sensory issues.

      I think being different might be okay, if people didn’t comment on it so often – if I were invisible. But they do see me, and they do comment. Perhaps it is trying to be polite. It may be they are trying to make me conform, as that is how they want their neighbourhood, and we are the only house that stands out. Whatever their reasons are, they are hard on me, and I would rather live in a place where I could go outside without being afraid people will see and talk to me – especially knowing how very different I am.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kazst

        October 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

        I agree, it’s the comments. I’ve often I said I wouldn’t care what people think of me if they wouldn’t get in my face about it. But since they do, the pressure is on for me to think of a correct way to respond, and that is so draining and stressful.

        Liked by 2 people

      • autismstuff

        October 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm

        Yes, I am lucky that I seem to tolerate the antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds well. My daughter, unfortunately, is very sensitive, also. Currently, she and a psychiatrist are trying to find the right medicine but she experiences severe panic attacks, lethargy, trembling in her arm etc if not on the minimal dose. She also has visual and auditory hallucinations if she is not on any med, along with severe anxiety and depression.

        As for the neighbors, they are trying to make you conform because they think your house not being up to their standards is lowering their property values (I have actually been told this).

        I also share your goal of being able to go outside and have no neighbors close by. I just haven’t been able to move to such a place yet. My dream is to have a little house on a little land with a few animals and minimal contact with people.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Walkinfaith925

    October 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Sounds like heaven!



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