11.04.15, 05:52 PM #1
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Neighbors sue to have autistic child declared a public nuisance
this one of those things that I can see both sides of. I had a neighbor who had a profoundly disabled child. I don't know what his diagnosis was, but his disability was displayed thru outbursts that included "banshee" like screaming that was just unnerving. Our yards adjoined and there were times when a backyard BBQ or a relaxing afternoon in the hammock with a book or even gardening was impossible.
His parents had much difficulty controlling him and he was always doing things like letting out their poorly trained and aggressive dog who would corner me on my own porch and pin me into a corner. He also had violent outbursts, where you could tell he was highly distressed at not being able to communicate some need to his parents or caregivers.
When he was 7 years old, you could wave at him or say hello or comment on the Halloween costume he wore all year long , but when he grew to be a 6 foot tall teenager whom you couldn't even make eye contact with , I have to admit that when I would see him leave the house I would hang back or quickly leave the area and get out of his sight line. You never knew what was going to set him off, and I became acutely aware as I saw his parents struggle to physically control him that any notion of control or containment was an illusion.
I had heard stories that he had injured his siblings and other students at his school, and I believed them.
gosh, I felt for that family...especially as the other children grew and left the home for college. He was left behind and I don't know that the one on one time with his parents helped. I know he desperately missed his siblings and clung to them when he came home.
but I have to admit that when I put my house on the market, I was crestfallen when an open house was interrupted by his wailing.
I know that most parents want one thing for their children....for them to have the best opportunity at happiness and productiveness, but what would I have done if my neighbor was a child who played on the playground with other children and scared or injured them? What if his behavior had completely hampered my chances at selling my home at market price or more completely kept me from enjoying my own home?
living together on this planet gets tricky, doesn't it? What if the kid in question wasn't autistic, but instead was a bully, or a sexual predator type kid, or a drug user or a thief? could you have them declared a public nuisance?
Sunnyvale: Neighbors sue to declare autistic boy a public nuisance
By Tracy Seipel
SUNNYVALE -- When neighbors complained about Vidyut Gopal and Parul Agrawal's young son with autism pulling children's hair, biting a woman and other menacing behavior, the couple said they did what they could to make it stop.
They hired caregivers, gave the boy special medication, and put him in therapeutic classes. But instead of bringing calm to Arlington Court, the Silicon Valley couple got slapped with a lawsuit that called their son a "public nuisance" -- and ultimately drove them out of their home of seven years.
Now, Gopal and Agrawal find themselves in the midst of a legal battle that has sparked outrage among parents of children with autism everywhere, and raised troubling questions about how to coexist with neighbors with special needs kids.
"This has been pretty devastating for us, but we are doing our best to cope with it," Gopal, an engineer at a Silicon Valley company, said Thursday.
The lawsuit -- filed last summer by two couples who lived in homes that flanked Gopal and Agrawal's house -- alleges that the boy's disruptive behavior also created an "as-yet unquantified chilling effect on the otherwise 'hot' local real estate market" and that "people feel constrained in the marketability of their homes as this issue remains unresolved and the nuisance remains unabated."
To Gopal and Agrawal's dismay, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge last October issued a preliminary injunction against them to ensure their son does not strike, assault, or batter anyone in the neighborhood or their personal property. The case returns to court Tuesday, when a judge will hear arguments about whether the plaintiffs should have access to the boy's school and medical records.
Gopal and his wife, a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, said they remain focused on helping their son. But they hope this case "will raise awareness about autism and educate the public" about the challenges that families of children with autism face.
The plaintiffs could not be reached for comment. But some neighbors not involved in the legal case said they feel compassion for Gopal and Agrawal. Still, they believe the lawsuit was necessary after communication with the couple -- and requests that the parents better supervise and control their son's behavior -- broke down. The lawsuit claims that over the years the boy, now 11, had struck a baby with his hand, spit at and tried to ride his bicycle into neighbors, and repeatedly sat on a neighbor's cat.
"It was painful," said Sue Alford, a 61-year-old retired registered nurse who has lived for decades with her family in a home next to one of the families that sued Gopal and Agrawal.
"We all met with them and talked to them about their son, but they didn't see our point of view," Alford said. "We wanted the street to be a safe place for other children."
While she said she "didn't want to make enemies of any of my neighbors," she said outsiders should not judge the residents on Arlington Court.
"We went out of our way to be understanding and kind to him," Alford said. "When you see everything, all of the pieces will fit together and maybe there will be an understanding."
Nieves Diaz, 63, who lives across the street from Gopal and Agrawal's house, said the ordeal has "been very unsettling."
"It was awful, because he couldn't play outside with the kids," Diaz recalled of the times she would see the couple's son looking forlornly out of the front window at the other neighborhood children playing on the street.
"It was kind of sad," said Diaz, adding that any claim that the boy's presence in the neighborhood would threaten property values is unproven.
"They should do their research and make sure it's a fact," she said of the plaintiffs, Robert and Marci Flowers and Bindu Pothen and Kumaran Santhanam. "If not, they should keep their opinions to themselves." The Flowers last month moved from their rental home on Arlington Court.
Bay Area parents of children with autism, meanwhile, fear the lawsuit could lead to copy cat cases.
"What scared us in the Bay Area is that there are thousands of kids just like this one," said Jill Escher, president of the board of the Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area.
"Imagine if lawsuits like this were allowed to proliferate on such allegations. This could happen to all autism families at the drop of a hat. They would not know where to go."
Stephen Rosenbaum, a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Law School, who specializes in disability rights and is familiar with the lawsuit, said he is surprised the case has continued as long as it has.
"This is something that should never have gone to court, in my view," said Rosenbaum, who is also an associate professor at Golden Gate University School of Law. Instead, he said, it should have been resolved through an informal dispute resolution process or mediation; sources, however, say that route failed.
"The plaintiffs make it out to be that there's a monster at large in the neighborhood, but I know from the standpoint both as an attorney and as a parent myself of a young man who had a disability that there may be things that are the perception by the rest of the community that can be at odds with reality."
No matter what happens with their legal case, Gopal and Agrawal say they have lost hope of returning to their former home, which they now rent to another family.
"We have no intention," Gopal said, "of coming back."
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11.05.15, 11:00 AM #2
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At work, the head cashier had a son who was autistic, and she loved bringing him into the store.
This kid was an absolute nightmare!
He just seemed more hyperactive than anything else.
Years passed, and one day "Little Joe" comes to visit the store, and he's
a six foot, shades of a moustache, thirteen/fourteen year old.
He was huge!
Suddenly, he bursts into the break room and starts patting this girl on the head,
Then he grins & starts making these robotic, beeping sounds, very loudly.
Then he tears into the manager's office!
I jokingly yelled, "Someone grab a taser!"
Which the mother did not appreciate.
But i cannot imagine living day in/day out, with this kid.
I'd be mentally & physically exhausted, to the point of depression.
But i'm more into calm settings, which is why i don't really like dogs either.
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