Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘bully

Seems like you can’t turn on the news anymore without seeing something about bullying, and more and more, it’s teenagers who not only bully, but advertise it on YouTube, Facebook or other social mediums. It’s bad enough they’re doing it, but they’re proud of it and want others to see it.

The Dr. Phil show today was about four teen girls who beat up a 12-year-old girl (who already had a shunt in her brain, which apparently at least two of the girls were aware of) and video’d it, then put on YouTube. I won’t get into any further details as I don’t want to get anything wrong (you can find it at Dr. Phil’s website) but I will say it was very disturbing to watch, and not just the video but the reactions/responses of others towards what the girls all did.

As a country, we’re aware — the Bully Project movie is playing and many schools hold anti-bullying campaigns. Commercials stress that you need to stop bullying people for their race, their lifestyle, their orientation, but I would love to see them include the disabled. I go back and forth about whether or not we should even focus on the “who” of bullying — no one should be bullied, but with the increase of suicides related to internet bullying, I am aware that we have a long way to go so I’m on the fence. However, bullying is bullying, and bullying is wrong, no matter who the recipient.

We were coming home from the beach yesterday and BB mentioned, out of the blue, how he felt he’d been bullied by a past teacher. It was an interesting comment and his choice of words inspired a long conversation about what bullying was and whether or not he had actually experienced it. We didn’t feel the situation was bullying, but given that bullying comes in all shapes and forms, is bullying in the eye of the receiver? If he felt bullied, was he?

In his case, his IEP was being ignored and some teachers were trying to get him to just stop the irritating behavior so as to get on with the rest of the class and day rather than trying to help him learn better behavior. One example: finding out why he was tapping his foot didn’t matter; instead, he was told to stop tapping and when it didn’t work, he was moved to a corner desk. Alone and singled out, still with the need to tap his foot as the sensory issue wasn’t addressed, and it turned into anxiety and upset. Another: a classmate was allowed to pick on him for his facial tic because “that’s what kids do.”

Was that bullying? Or just lack of education in how to handle it?

We’ve decided that it is unlikely BB will return to a regular public school, in the format that lives now. Instead, we’re going to be looking for something more form-fitting, perhaps a techology-geared magnet school or program. It’s not necessarily because of bullying, though it sure does play into the decision somewhat. BB will need to learn to deal with the bad behaviors in the world. He’ll need to learn to control his reaction and respond appropriately, and/or walk away. We wouldn’t be doing him right if we just pulled him away from it all and didn’t prepare him regardless; he’s going to be out in the world, be it now or next year or in seven years when he graduates, and he’ll run into other bad behaviors displayed by fellow college students or co-workers, or just people waiting in line with him at the bank.

Until he gets old enough to be more independent, we will continue to work with him. Last week, after the homeschool event situation, we gave him some tools on how to handle it if it recurs. “Please don’t touch me.” Talk to a teacher. Seek a safe adult. We want him to realize that even if someone else is being mean, it’s no excuse for him to respond in kind. He can’t control their behaviors, but he can control his own. He is also worthy of respect and doesn’t need to put up with bullying or meanness from anyone. He may be just a child, but children should be respected, too. Bullying sends the message that you’re not being respected, and no one needs to tolerate that.Parents need to model the behaviors they want their children to emulate, so we as adults need to think about it as we’re out in public. Do we honk our horns at slow cars? Do we berate an employee providing customer service to us when things don’t go as we want? Do we fight fair? Do we make fun of people? And to add a new level to it all — do we go to Facebook or Twitter to tell the world about all of our problems? Do we share so much online that our kids think it’s normal for them to as well? Do we bash our husband, our employer or whine about every little twinge or ache? It may not seem to relate but when kids see us use social media to seek attention or antagonize, it rubs off. How many times have our kids said “Well, Mary did it too…” Do we want them to say “But Mom did it too…”

I know it’s not as cut and dried as that, but you have to start somewhere. I don’t want any of my kids to ever be the victim of online harassment or attacks, but prevention is a multi-pronged approach, and even then, not a guarantee of success. It starts with our behaviors, and continues with us watching theirs, addressing things as they come up and listening to their concerns. BB showed me that we may not see something as bullying, but if they perceive it as bullying, it needs to be addressed. Maybe that means just us explaining to them that it’s not bullying, or maybe it’s a red flag that yes, we need to step in.

It’s sad that bullying is such a problem anymore, but one person at a time, we can decrease it. Bullying the disabled — or anyone — happens every single day. We worry about 1-in-88 having autism — and we should worry about it — but like autism, we don’t know the cause or cure for bullying yet and until we do, we need to tackle it before the numbers are even higher.

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I’m with everyone else out there who thinks the slew of recent suicides due to bullying is horrific. Unnecessary. Sad loss of beautiful lives that could have been preventable, but the question begs to be asked: why can’t we just stop bullying, period? Why focus on just one type? Bullying is bullying, plain and simple.

Today, in my opinion, my son was bullied. Again.

In my opinion, because everyone’s so sensitive anymore about what others say in this political-correctedness-gone-amok world, when a child makes up things and tattles on another child for something he didn’t do, and gets away with it, while the victim is punished, it’s bullying. Using your power — words, physical, mental, whatever — to negatively impact another is bullying, plain and simple.

I’m glad Hillary Clinton wants to help the cause of bullying against gays, but who is taking up the cause of bullying against disabled kids? Anyone? Why is it not okay to bully a gay child but bullying a kid without the social skills to defend himself due to autism is ignored?

Stop bullying — any kind of bullying, against any kind of victim. Stop bullying. That’s all that needs to be said.

A bully is a bully. If they bully a gay person, they’re going to bully someone else. Why are we focusing on just the gay people suddenly? Anti-bullying sadly didn’t get enough attention before these recent deaths, and it’s awful it took more to make it important enough, but all bullying is wrong, and focusing on bullying of one type silently allows the rest to continue.

My disabled child doesn’t deserve to be bullied. Does anyone?

Let’s do something.

 

I picked up ds early from school to head to his regularly scheduled neurologist appointment. As we pull onto the carpool lane of the freeway, he begins to tell me a story that made me want to turn around and head back to the school…except I couldn’t, a neuro appt in a land far, far away awaited.

As close as I can understand, a group of ’20’ (maybe exaggerated in his head? maybe not?) kids put their hands over his eyes, covered his mouth so he couldn’t yell, and grabbed his arms, pulling him into the bathroom. He yelled to his friends, yet they did nothing. (He only has a few friends he plays with repeatedly, mainly one anymore, so this doesn’t surprise me.) He pulled away long enough to ask why he was there, and to let him leave, and they said “No, you’re in jail.” He breaks away again, gets out, and they try to re-catch him. He runs outside to the playground area, just running anywhere to get away, and two friends see him. Now, it must look fun, because they joined in to help him get away. They almost had him again, but when he ran far enough and his little friends were persistent, they left him alone. On a bad note, he doesn’t know who any of the kids are but one. On a good note, he doesn’t know who any of the kids are but one — which means they at least aren’t from his class.

Tonight is Back to School night. We will be setting up an appointment to meet with Admin in the morning. When he said “they took me into the bathroom,” I had to find a calm, discreet way to ask him where they touched him. I had to ask him if they ever used his name, to see if it appeared random. And I had to ask if he told anyone. He did, a playground proctor, and her words, per ds? “Poor kid.” Period. Nothing else was done.

But something else will be done. My son was dragged into a bathroom with strangers, against his will. Big deal or no, depending on who you are and how you look at it, he was taken somewhere against his will, people touched him, and he has no way of knowing if they’ll do it again. And no one did anything?

Mom’s unleashed. Admin will step in, I’m sure, we are blessed with a good team who truly care about ds, but he’s only in second grade. And I never heard of a group bullying incident like this.

I’ll update tonight, or tomorrow, depending on when I have anything to update with. Think happy thoughts.


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  • Payor: Just wish to declare the document is usually as unbelievable. The actual lucidity with your write-up is simply good and also i possibly could think yo
  • Kim: amen!!!!!!!! Thank you.------ Mom of 5 year old verbal (with speech apraxia), self injurious autistic son.
  • Emily: Thank you so much. I share your pain and am glad to know I'm not alone in my struggles with my very verbal autistic spectrum son.
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