Friday, December 17, 2010

This Time It's your Aspie's Fault: Redux

 This post originally appeared September 2009. I also reposted it October 2010.

I have to tell you that I was struck by a new episode of The Big Bang Theory last night. In its opening teaser they had our four favorite nerds bullying another person because they considered him of lower intellect. Well the hunky character is not the brightest bulb, but he is a nice guy and they had no right to be mean to him. The hunk was just trying to find something in common with our loveable foursome. Now the hunks/alpha males/popular kids wanting to be friends with our children doesn't generally happen to our children. Yes they are the ones actually bullied or ostracized, but in this case, the hot hunky character was really trying to befriend our socially inept foursome. Honestly, because when all was said and done, he respects them. But our four favorite nerds in their mindblindness didn't realize that and were out and out mean. Luckily the character Penny pointed it out to them and after a bit of soul searching they went over to Penny's to apologize. Of course, Sheldon didn't understand what they had done wrong, but he went along anyway and found the saving grace of an apology in a box of Milk Duds.

The reason this episode struck me is that I have noticed my boys' ability to be as mean as anyone else, but not quite really understand that they are being mean. Unfortunately, they have it within them, just like everyone else to hurt the feelings of another human being. So, I think it is important to remember that we need to instill in our children the purpose of kindness. We also need to teach them to not only recognize how to be kind to others but to recognize when someone is kind to them as well (Mindblindness effects our children in many ways). Put simply, they need to understand what to do in fact when someone else is being nice to them. Sometimes even that reciprocity is beyond our children at first, but it is something they can learn and quite frankly learn to enjoy.

So here is a repost of my original story about highschoolboy and his brush with being a bully. It wasn't really that lengthy of an amount of time, we caught it and ended it quickly. However it was enough of an episode for me to remember that after the aspergers, HSB is first and foremost a teenage boy, complete with those missing frontal lobe synapses and the ability to judge consequences and actions. Personally, I reminded myself that after awhile aspergers is not always an excuse for poor behavior and honestly when dealing with others and how our children's words and actions can affect another person, there comes an age when it really shouldn't be.

Well, I have to tell you we entered a new phase of life with highschoolboy today. I actually got a call from the vice-principal of the school on the very first day of classes. Usually we get to wait at least a week before everything hits the fan, but no not this year. I have a feeling this year is going to be special. Now it wasn't a really big deal in the annals of highschool issues, but it was potentially an issue. One that we had to stop dead in its tracks.. Highschoolboy was openly disdainful of a classmate. "Perfect" person has no  patience for someone else's issues. He was loud, rude and if the other child had heard potentially hurtful.

Now lets see if I can explain highschoolboy's personality. At three he fired me because I wouldn't let him fire his nursery school teacher. She had had the temerity to insist he clean up when he wanted to play. Upon finding out that he couldn't fire me he decided to unfriend me (way before Facebook). He found out he couldn't do that either since I was his mother, not his friend. Luckily I could still stay one step ahead of a three-year-old. Then he decided to be his big brother's protector.

Collegeman was very disabled at this point in highschoolboy's life (he was still in nursery) and I think there was this instinct  to take care of his older brother. Well, they happened to be in the same summer camp. At this point collegeman was about seven and highschoolboy was four. Highschoolboy came around a corner and saw collegeman crying and assumed that the counselor who was trying to calm his brother down was the actual culprit in his distress. Well, I happened to catch highschoolboy mid-lung. I believe his goal was to extract an organ from that counselor who had "upset" his brother. Thankfully I have quick reflexes. The counselors, teenagers, were totally at a loss at that point with highschoolboy, so off he went to the director's office where he promised to never try that again. He was also promised that noone would ever hurt his brother under any circumstances.
So highschoolboy is smart, stubborn, opinionated and protective of those he loves. Really not a bad combination when you think of it, but sometimes he needs to understand that everyone is just not as "perfect" as he is.

So the story begins last year after the Presidential election. Our candidate lost and highschoolboy was devastated. Now when your children have OCD and are told that the country's future and their very lives are at stake depending upon how you vote (yes both sides were guilty of that nonsense whether anyone likes it or not)  well, it makes for a really scary scenario. So when our candidate lost, highschoolboy thought the world was going to end. All was going to be over. Several days of crying ensued. Now unfortunately, there were some children who picked up on that and started to taunt highschoolboy. The teacher's aide reported it and the boys were slammed down by the school (complete with calls home) and told to stop.

They really did, however, highschoolboy now had his dander up. He was not going to give his tormentors one inch of leeway. If they got out of line, didn't follow directions, didn't pay attention in class, well he was going to make sure that he put them back on the straight and narrow, by rolling his eyes, making sighing noises whenever they spoke and just shaking his head no matter what these children did. He was very obvious and very loud  about it too. He was told to stop. That if they couldn't torment him, he couldn't torment them. OK, fine. There was an uneasy truce between the boys for the rest of the year. (The vice-principal assured me that this was 15 year old boy interactions and very typical. OK so my aspie son became a typical 15 year old. He could have just remained a typical 15 year old boy who was girl crazy and obsessed with video games, but noooo he had to pick up on the lesser attributes of being a 15 male. Lucky us)

Now this year begins. Holy cow one of those boys was in his English class. The child did not say a word to highschoolboy. Never even came over, totally stayed away from highschoolboy like he was supposed to. But highschoolboy didn't care, he told everyone about the other child's basic lack of humanity and his inability to function  in an appropriate manner. And he kept telling everyone. I got a call from the vice principal. I should say that in-between the call and highschoolboy coming home and telling me that this child was in his class I had already read him the riot act. If he stays away from you, stay away from him. That is the rule.

I told the vice-principal to get him in her office and give him a verbal smackdown. He needs to understand that even if it is hard for him to let things go, its wrong, inappropriate and offensive to rag on someone because of what was. It also is not so good for highschoolboy to obsess over something like this (another email to the therapist). Highschoolboy understands intellectually but I think we are going to have to work hard on the emotional piece. I know it will be difficult for him. He feels the injustice of last year still and the need to find fault with his tormentor. But I told him, its  a new year, new chances and more than that, if you continue it will hurt you in the longrun by making you a lesser person. If he lets you be, you let him be. Simple rule. Simple solution. Lets hope that he can help himself and that the adults around him help him to help himself. That is why they are there.

So off we go into another year of highschool. Stubborn, smart, opinionated, moral, protective and down right sure in his vision of the world. I think highschoolboy has a healthy ego. Maybe one day he will run for a public office where they carve your face into granite. The country should be so lucky, but first we have to make it out of highschool.

Just as an update: HSB stayed away from his arch nemesis for the rest of the year and that child stayed away from him. I never heard word "boo" about another incidence where HSB was mean or rude to another child again. Now HSB still does not suffer fools gladly, but he is also learning how to not show it and how to walk away from the situation without comment. Of course, you had best pronounce "nuclear" appropriately, use proper verbal conjugation and proper word syntax or he is going to correct you vociferously. That's not bullying when he does that, it just makes him seem like a pompous pain in the butt. We're working on that too. You see we have a little more in common with Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory than sometimes we'd like to admit.

Until next time,