The parents of a nine-year-old boy with autism want people to have a bit of empathy for them and their son who on occasions likes to collect people's wheelie bins.

Ronan Cavanagh has had a fascination with wheelie bins since he was two and his parents Nicole and Chris Cavanagh say he doesn't have any bad intentions when taking bins, he just simply loves them.

"They just latch on to something, and then to them everything is about that thing," said Nicole.

"What he does is looks for bins that we don't have and brings them back home. He will then research what that bin is used for."

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He has also had fascinations for weed-eaters and lawnmowers.

Nicole says Ronan would go as far as he needed to collect a bin he liked but that he mainly collects them from properties on their street, Frontier Rd.

Not all their neighbours have responded kindly to him.

On two separate occasions Ronan was assaulted, both times by neighbours.

One day he returned home crying and said one man had thrown a rock at him, which left a bruise on Ronan's leg. On another day, he says he was also sprayed with a hose by another man.

Ronan Cavanagh says a neighbour threw a rock at him which left this bruise on his leg. Photo / Supplied.
Ronan Cavanagh says a neighbour threw a rock at him which left this bruise on his leg. Photo / Supplied.

"Due to his disability and due to his behavior and due to his own little world, I am 100 per cent confident he will never ever understand why grown men and women, who should be role models and trusted, would throw rocks at him or blast water at him when he enters their property to touch their bin," wrote Ronan's sister Rhiannon Venk in a letter to the editor to the Te Awamutu Courier.

The incidents were reported to the Police but his parents were left feeling disappointed after being told that no formal complaint was filed.

"I walked Ronan up to where he said the incident happened, and he said 'I stood here and the man was standing there when he threw the rock at me'," said Chris.

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"He doesn't make things up, he simply can't because of his disability," Rhiannon said.

"It was massively disappointing that Police didn't file a formal complaint when that's what we asked for," said Chris.

Ronan still takes to the street to collect bins and he has even made friends with the rubbish truck driver.

Now though, he makes sure to avoid the two properties where he says he was hurt.

Ronan recently celebrated his 9th birthday and it was only fitting that he had a wheelie bin birthday cake. Photo / Supplied.
Ronan recently celebrated his 9th birthday and it was only fitting that he had a wheelie bin birthday cake. Photo / Supplied.

A couple of years ago, to minimise the hassle, Nicole and Chris sent out letters to their neighbours explaining Ronan's condition and that he might take their wheelie bin. They asked if they would display their house number on the bins so that they could easily be returned.

Nicole also posts to the Te Awamutu Community Grapevine Facebook page when Ronan brings unidentifiable bins home but it's on social media where she experiences a lot of negative and condescending comments towards her parenting.

She also says that going to the supermarket, where Ronan becomes highly stimulated because of the lights and waiting in lines, is a nightmare.

"Every day we get told how naughty he is and that we should control our child. Some days it's really hard to take and I've even broken down sometimes," said Nicole.

"It sucks being belittled and undermined, especially when people don't understand or know his condition," added Chris.

"We have a lot of other things going on too, like running a business and looking after our other children. It's not been easy and we'd just like people to have a bit of empathy and to raise some awareness around this issue so that when people like us go out into the community we don't get judged."