Neighbors Send Mom of Girl With Autism an Appalling Letter Telling Her to 'Move', or Else


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On April 17, the mother of a young girl with autism received a letter from the other residents of her condominium building that should horrify all parents and enrage those who have children with special needs. The letter, sent by "The Plaza of Bal Harbour Residents," told the mother that her daughter was "compromising their quality of life" and that if she did not move out, they would take legal action.

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The mother, identified by NBC 6 as Leah Solomon, posted the letter to a private Facebook group for parents who attend her daughter's school. One of those parents, Monica Calderin, was so outraged that she requested permission from the mom to post the letter publicly, and it's fanning massive outrage.

offensive letter to mom of child with disability
Monica Calderin/Facebook

The letter begins as follows: 

"Please be advised -- the 300 residents of this building will not compromise their quality of life any longer. You have a daughter with major issues. Your daughter cannot be socialized with others. Her lack of impulse control, her screaming outbursts -- are not acceptable to the residents of this building. We have sought legal counsel. The choice is yours. Either you move out of the building on your own volition, or the residents of this building will take action and you will be forced to move."

How breathtakingly heartless.

According to NBC 6, Solomon's 16-year-old daughter has severe autism and is being targeted by her neighbors simply because she has a disability. In the letter, the residents go on to complain about this mother's "large-framed and hefty" daughter "jumping up and down" in her apartment and criticize the mother for her "disregard and disrespect" of the other residents. "The right thing to do," they tell her, "would be to take your daughter to a facility that can accommodate disabled people like herself, where you would not be infringing upon the quality of life of others -- who worked hard their whole lives -- to live and enjoy the peace and quiet of this condo building."

The residents of the Plaza of Bal Harbour, if this letter truly does represent all of them, not only have no concept of what it's like to have a child with special needs, but also appear to have limited compassion for others. It takes a certain kind of selfishness to be willing to throw out a mother and her child because you feel inconvenienced by them. 

The people who wrote this letter are treating this child the way people with disabilities have been treated forever -- like distasteful inconveniences that they feel they shouldn't have to look at, listen to, or interact with. As an adult with a disability, I am all too familiar with this point of view. It is the view of privileged people who think that they have "earned" the right to shape the world into one that caters to their needs, whims, and desires, and see the disabled as problems to be shut away from society so that people like them don't have to deal with it.

These people have the gall to tell this mother what they think is best for her child, and (if that's not overreaching enough) that what's best would be for her child to be institutionalized. It's sickening, it's illegal, and it's immoral. It's the view of people who think they shouldn't have to deal with any of life's difficulties, and who have no interest in the lives of those who must do so on a daily basis.

But their complete lack of empathy is made clear at the end of the letter, where they write the following: "We are not responsible for your daughter's diagnosis. And you have no right to burden us with her diagnosis." To imply that the ones here with the responsibility and burden are those who live in the condo across the hall is so shortsighted it's almost laughable.

A copy of the letter was also given to management at the condominium, who referred to it as "disturbing," and stressed that they did not condone the letter. A member of the condo board told NBC 6 they've identified the person who wrote it and are determining what action to take. "This is the worst discrimination I've ever seen in my life," the board member said. "And I'm saying anywhere I've heard discrimination. This is horrendous."

Unfortunately, this is a no-win situation for this mom. Does she uproot her life and move just because her neighbors are the worst people in the world, or does she stay where she is and have to put up with neighbors who are the worst people in the world? Regardless, there is a child at the center of this who is being made to feel unwelcome and lesser-than, and I hope that "The Plaza at Bell Harbour Residents" understand that. 

Unfortunately, it seems that may be asking too much.

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