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To the Hotel Guest Who Left the Note About the Noise My Son With Autism Made

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We were out of our hotel room for a large part of the day on Monday. So imagine my surprise right before dinner to find an anonymous note from another hotel guest complaining we were “walking too loudly” in our room above theirs. It wasn’t just a simple polite request. It was vile. The nastiness in this note was burned into my brain and, at the same time, it was a confused jumble of insults I can barely recall.

The husband took it, crumbled it up and said, “Screw ’em. We made noise in the afternoon? Big deal. It wasn’t in the middle of the night and …” I grabbed the note back. I couldn’t just let this go, especially when the room above our own was noisy with its own pattern of little feet. But in the afternoon? Who cares?

I had two choices:

1) Write an equally nasty note and be a coward like them and stick it under the door, then run. But I’m 41, not 12.

2) Be mature, go to the hotel management and use this as a chance to educate and advocate. Plus, if these folks were going to be an ongoing issue, I wanted the staff to be aware of it.

I went with choice two and straight to the front desk. I handed over the note. I asked if it was from them (I really didn’t think it would be, but you never know) and I was quickly assured it was not. Then I started talking. I said, “My son has autism. He’s no angel or perfect. He’s also 11. Yes, I’m sure someone has heard him now and then being ‘too loud.’ Please know my husband and I do our best. We’re on him constantly. This is our fourth trip here. We keep coming back because this place has been so accepting of him. They may have had to endure 10 minutes of noise. I endure it 24/7. We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else. If they would like to talk to me, have them call me. I would love to talk to them. I would love to tell them about the autism that lives with us also goes on vacation with us.”

“Oh, also remind these folks it’s a hotel, not your house,” I continued. “You’re gonna hear noise. It’s family resort with about 100 kids running around.”

By then, three other desk staffers had crowded around listening to me, passing the note back and forth. They seemed stunned. Then came a slew of apologies from them. I appreciated it, but honestly, there was nothing they needed to apologize for. I just wanted to be proactive in case there were more complaints. I told them again to please call me if there’s a complaint, but to remember I’m trying my best. If you saw my son, the Kiddo, who first came to this resort five years ago, and saw who he is now, you wouldn’t know it’s the same kiddo. I slapped the note down on the desk and walked away.

We had dinner. I ordered a large glass of wine and tried to shake it off. Up until this moment, we’d been having a great vacation. It’s one thing to be called out for all the ways your kid behaves. It’s another thing to be harassed for it. Seriously, I’ve never read anything so obnoxious. And think about it, I’m a blogger. You know the comments I get sometimes? If I’m offended, you know it’s bad.

We did our usual routine of lots of swimming to get that much-needed sensory input. The Kiddo was snuggled in his bed with a movie. My husband and I were chilling out and there was a knock on the door. A hotel staff member hand-delivered an apology note and a box of chocolates. We were very surprised but at the same time grateful. It was clear the resort wasn’t happy with the other guest’s way of handling things but also understood the challenges we face.

Sadly, we didn’t hear a word from the person who made the complaint. I wish there were some way to talk to them. You’re probably also wondering why I didn’t post a picture of their note. That really wasn’t a hard choice to make. What would that really do at the end of the day other than make many people who already have a lot on their plate feel even worse?

You see, I get angry a lot. I’ve learned unless you do something about your situation, nothing gets better. A way to see some change is to make some. I’m not saying my Kiddo is perfect in every situation. Neither is the way I parent. But we can have a constructive conversation about it. Deciding to go the hotel staff and being upfront gave me the chance to see all this awareness work we’re doing works.

To the person who left the note: I’m sorry if my Kiddo’s flapping feet ruined your vacation for roughly 10 minutes in the middle of the day. But your anonymous note was the wrong move. We could’ve shared a side of fries. Or I could’ve thrown them at you.  One or the other. But seriously, if you ever witness behavior you don’t understand, ask. Talk to us. Listen. I want to have the conversation.

Follow this journey on Autism With a Side of Fries.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us the moment you stood up for yourself or your child in regards to disability or disease, or a moment you wish you had? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: July 7, 2015
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