A discriminatory letter demanding that the family of an autistic teen move away has gone viral — during Autism Awareness Month, no less.
Leah Solomon is the mother of 16-year-old Batsheva, who has “severe autism and has the intelligence quotient of a 4-year-old,” according to a report from Miami affiliate NBC6. She also has an 18-year-old with Asperger syndrome.
Last week Leah’s husband found a letter on their apartment door at the Plaza, the condominium complex in Bal Harbour, Fla., where they’ve lived for two years, and they were shocked by its contents. Claiming it was written on behalf of 300 neighbors, the letter demands the removal of the family because of Batsheva’s behavior. The letter called the teen “large framed and hefty” and stated that she has “major issues.”
“Her lack of impulse control, her screaming and outbursts – are not acceptable to the residents in this building,” the letter reads. “We are not responsible for your daughter’s diagnosis. And you have no right to burden us with her diagnosis.” The hurtful letter also claims that Batsheva cannot socialize with others and that she disturbs neighbors with her jumping, “beginning at 5:30 AM every day.”
The letter also states that the senders have sought out legal counsel. “The choice is yours,” the note reads. “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.”
The letter insensitively suggests that the parents move their daughter to a facility that can accommodate disabled people, “where you would not be infringing upon the quality of life of others.”
MY CHILD WITH AUTISM BEING DISCRIMINATED AT THE PLAZA OF BAL HARBOUR.Well this is in deed the most in humane letter I…
Leah tells Yahoo Lifestyle that while she’s received a few complaints from neighbors because of her daughter in the past, “as soon as they saw she was a special needs child, they understood.”
According to the local ABC network, the mother of four shared the letter on Facebook because she wasn’t getting an answer from management last week. “MY CHILD WITH AUTISM BEING DISCRIMINATED AT THE PLAZA OF BAL HARBOUR,” she wrote. “No wonder the world is so real seriously f&&&&d up. There is no human dignity or love or empathy towards the neighbors.”
Her story has received a ton of attention; a handful of local news stations have picked it up, and the mayor of the Miami-Dade County village, Gabriel Groisman, also shared the story. Groisman called the letter “despicable,” and promised to stand behind the family. “I can confirm that law enforcement is looking into this incident, and everyone must know that this hatred and discrimination has no place anywhere, and certainly not in Bal Harbour,” he wrote on Facebook.
This week a despicable incident occurred at The Plaza at Bal Harbour. A family, who has a beautiful 16 year old child…
Building management says it had nothing to do with the letter, according to Leah, and that it and the condo board do not support it. But Leah begs to differ. “[M]y husband immediately after receiving it went downstairs to the management office where the property manager acknowledged the letter,” she wrote on Facebook the next day. “The management is denying it, they are blaming a tenant, and we have no idea who that is,” Leah tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We are 100 percent sure the association/landlord/landlord rep is behind it.”
A woman answering the phone in the building’s management office tells Yahoo Lifestyle the office had nothing to add to the story, and that managers are “working with our attorneys and the authorities and are providing the paperwork they’ve asked us for.”
Leah confirmed that she and her family are planning to move. “We got served an eviction notice on [April 20] from our landlord,” who, she says, owns about 10 apartments in the building. “He placed this apartment for sale three weeks ago,” Leah explains, adding that it happened when her husband was a week behind on the rent because he was recovering from open-heart surgery. “We got a call from the landlord’s rep telling us they were going to put a three-day notice on our door, and it was best for us to go quietly.” Instead, Leah tried reaching the landlord to ask for an extension, “and then voilà, this letter appeared on the apartment.”
While the family doesn’t have the funds to move and Leah says she has proof of the landlord’s unfair treatment toward them on other occasions, her focus right now is to get her children “in a place where they feel safe.” So Leah has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of relocation. People have donated almost $1,000 so far, while others are showing their support on Facebook.
“Your heartless letter needs to be put in the hands of an attorney do proper actions can be taken. Shame on these people!!” one follower commented. “She is beautiful. The whole Autism community is behind you. I was so angry when I read that letter. I have an 8 year old son who has Autism and the hatred in that letter made my blood boil. I really hope you get to the bottom of it and find out which disgusting person had the cheek to write that. How small minded some people are, education and awareness is the key. I am so sorry you and your family have been put through this,” wrote another.
And it seems Leah’s neighbors aren’t all bad. “The neighbors started circulating a letter stating that they had no part in this and they were ashamed of what was being done to us,” she says. “Some of them have shown us loving support, even placed cards in our door, looking for our daughter to go with her to the pool and see who would complain.”
As of now, the Bal Harbor Police Department has taken over the case, Leah says. “They have reached out to the state attorney to process this as a crime.”
The mayor has used this as an opportunity to educate. “With their blessing, and with the skills of our very own Bal Harbour Police Department and Bal Harbour Village Government we will be creating an awareness and education initiative to teach people about Autism, as this kind of action is most prevalent amongst those who are ignorant.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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