Tamara Downey of Kippens, Canada, says her first reaction was to break down in tears when, earlier this month, she received a three-page letter — an anonymous letter — from a “neighbor,” complaining about her son, Ryan, who is 12-years-old. Ryan in also autistic and does not communicate verbally. But the letter accused Ryan of various bad behaviors, including causing damage to other people’s property, as well as stealing.
The letter claimed that the police had already been called and the cops promised to “monitor the area on a regular basis until the problem is permanently solved.”
But the writer did not have the guts to speak to Downey in person, or even sign his or her name to the nasty note.
“When I received that on Friday, I was absolutely devastated,” Downey told Canada’s CBC TV network.
She said she also checked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who, according to the letter, were sending a plainclothes officer to monitor Ryan — but the RCMP said that they were doing nothing of the kind and had no record of the situation.
Tamara says her husband, Todd, acts as Ryan’s 24-hour-per day caregiver, because they can’t afford a full-time professional, but Ryan has never stolen anything from anyone or caused damage to property.
“Ryan does not take things from people’s property and, if he did, he would bring it back with us — we’re there with him all the time,” the mom said. “No one has ever come to me or my husband to say that there’s things missing or damaged. And, of course, if property was damaged, we would absolutely like someone to come forward and we would help pay for it.”
She said she also contacted town officials, who told her no one had filed any complaints about Ryan damaging or stealing property.
So what’s going on? A number of neighbors have since spoken out in support of the Downeys — but no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the nasty, heartless, not to mention gutless, anonymous note.
Tamara Downey is now trying to turn the frustrating situation into a positive, organizing community meetings for other parents to help them better understand the needs of autistic children.
“It’s great for promoting autism awareness but I think it’s an opportunity for the autism community to take this to a political level,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “It is an election year and we need to highlight the lack of appropriate resources, services and support… individuals with autism and their families deserve better.”
In the meantime, Downey says she won’t give in to the pressure of anonymous note-writers who simply don’t like her autistic son. “I can’t and I won’t keep my child locked up,” she said.
[Image: Family Photo via CBC]