Neighbors Sue Family Because Their Autistic Son Is a ‘Public Nuisance’

Families who care for and support autistic children or relatives already face enough stigma and can struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Throw disgruntled neighbors into the mix, and the challenge must seem nearly impossible. A Silicon Valley, California family is dealing with a rough situation after their neighbors filed a lawsuit against them saying their youngest son—who suffers from autism—is a “public nuisance.”

According to reports, Vidyut Gopal and her family were sued last summer by two neighboring families. In the lawsuit they claimed that the child’s behavior negatively impacted the 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.”

The Mercury News reported that the lawsuit cited instances where the 11-year-old boy had struck a baby, spit at neighbors and would try to crash his bicycle into people. The lawsuit also alleged that he mistreated a neighbor’s cat on multiple occasions.

A Santa Clara County judge issued the parents an injunction, demanding that they make sure their son doesn’t assault anyone or damage personal property.

The family feels that they are doing everything in their power to help manage and care for their child as it is. They claim that they have caregivers, medication, and therapy sessions to help him deal with his condition.

While the parents hope to raise awareness about autism to educate the public about it, for the mean time they must await an upcoming court date during which a judge will decide whether or not to release the child’s medical and school records to the plaintiffs.

Many local parents of autistic children fear that the outcome of the lawsuit may set a harmful precedent for future neighborhood disputes.