Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Bullying Watchlist

Here is a terrific post about bullying and autism. It is from Bright Tots.  Read it and engrave it into your memory.

Bullying has been proven by numerous studies to be a serious problem. Harassment of children with disabilities has increased nationally. The effects of bullying children with autism can be extremely distressing. Children with autism are vulnerable to bullying because while they look typical, they act differently and it’s difficult for them to speak up or seek help. A National Autistic Society research study shows that over 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school both in mainstream and special schools.

Autism a social and communication disorder can be very isolating many children with come upon negative reactions to distinctive behaviors associated with the condition. Understanding and relating to other people is hard for children with autism, who often don’t understand social rules and, as a result, act in ways which seem unusual or odd.  Many have unique or specific interests on certain topics and may not realize that others don’t share their enthusiasm. Some may also have difficulties with eye contact and physical coordination, or have sensory difficulties, such as an under or over sensitivity to certain smells or noises. All this can greatly affect their ability to be accepted by their peer group and can make them more at risk of being bullied. Read the entire post here.

Now our story:

This informational post by Bright Tots really hit home. They explain the reality that children on the autism spectrum rarely tell their parents if they are being bullied. Its not the average kid keeping secrets. Its more about them not understanding how to help themselves. Bright Tots has a terrific "watch list" of behaviors to indicate that your child is being picked on. Unfortunately when it came to CM2 I had missed it all in first grade.

Let me set the scene. CM2 had an aide in his class. So I thought he was being protected and helped. There was also another little boy in the class that shared the aide with him. Initially I had thought that this child might be a good friend for CM2 because having "similar issues" they would understand each other. At least the mom made it sound like they had similar issues. Little did I know the reality. So I had had them get together at the other boy's house for a playdate.

Well, when I picked CM2 up from the playdate the other little boy was sitting on CM2's back hitting him in the head. CM2 was crying. Instead of the the boy's mother telling him to stop, she turned to me and told me it was a successful time.  I yelled at the boy to get off of CM2 and looked at the woman as if she was an alien being. I didn't say a word and just took CM2 home and told him he never had to play with that boy again. Apparently this mom decided it was successful because her son could be a total asshole and she thought it was great. Bullies don't just appear out of nowhere...and let me tell you this woman is even more sociopathic than her child.

So the boys were in class together and I had the insane idea that the aide was actually helping him and that the teacher was doing her job. Foolish me. CM2 never told me there was a problem. CM2 never had any indication that he didn't want to go to school. I later theorized that with this boy picking on him, CM2 probably thought that that was how it was supposed to be or the grownups wouldn't let it happen. He had no idea that I didn't know and that the adults in the room were not doing their jobs. 

Children tend to accept their situation for what it is, not thinking that it should be any different. I suppose you can say that CM2 was thinking along the same lines as an abused child. They don't know any other way of life so they think the abuse is how it is supposed to be and accept it as their reality. Well that is what I think happened to CM2 in this case. Luckily I ended up teaching him differently, because you so don't pick on CM2 ever and in fact you never act unkind to anyone or any of God's creatures if he is around. Yep we turned that perspective around and fast for him. Noone ever picked on my son and got away with it ever again.

So how did I find out? I happened to go into school to be a reading-mom. This meant that I sat in the hallway with children other than my own to help them practice reading. One particular boy told me not to worry about CM2 because he knew karate and he was gong to protect him. I told him thank you and then called the aide outside and asked what was going on. 

Meanwhile, a little girl came out for her reading turn and in the middle of reading her story she turned to me and told me that she thought I was the perfect mom for CM2. You just hug little children sometimes. They speak from the heart and from the soul. You could tell though that the other children were not happy in that class and they were all worried about my son. What an unfair situation for everyone. How dare the school have thought that this was appropriate for any of these children in that class.

Apparently the other boy had been attacking, not just picking on, but attacking my son and destroying everything that he created in school  as well. If CM2 did an art project this boy tried to destroy it. If CM2 built a fort out of blocks, this boy tried to destroy it. When CM2 played with legos this boys tried to take all the legos away. This boy was a complete terror and it seems that noone thought it important to tell me or to call in his parents to tell them. It also seemed that everyone thought it was just fine that the class exist this way. For a child to tell me that they are going to protect my son, did the school not think that this bullyingbehavior was not having an effect on everyone's education?

When I asked the aide about the situation, her response was incredulous...she said to me that I shouldn't worry about it since CM2 knew how to handle himself. In other words when the other boy tried to hit my son, he fought back and smacked the kid around. WTH kind of response was that? Needless to say on my way out of the school I made a huge pit stop at the Principal's office.

Would you like to know the upshot...I threatened the school and told them that in no uncertain terms is that boy to ever be placed in my son's class again and that he had better be protected in school. They seemed utterly shocked that I had come in and threatened them. Apparently they figured since I had not been in I had no problem with the situation. It must have been going on all year, I just didn't know. Clueless just clueless, and this from one of the better educators and elementaries in our area. 

(Of course this was also the elementary school I had to threaten with a huge lawsuit because how they mishandled CM2's second grade year and special education. His special education teacher declared him "cured" of his disability and said he need no more special education services going into 3rd grade and the idiot they hired to be the vice-principal was so totally thrilled with the idea. I kid you not. So looking back I guess I should not have been all that surprised that they dropped the ball on this bullying issue. Luckily the district special ducation director looking at our facts and the violation of the IEP in 2nd grade, made sure we got everything we wanted for CM2 from then on in elementary school. Additionally, the issues and incompetence of his first middle school special ed teacher, ensured that we got everything we wanted for CM2 til the day he graduated highschool.)

Well the upshot of the first grade bullying episode, was that they watched my son and they did talk to the other boy's parents. But to no avail. That child continued to try to hurt CM2. In fact the mother called me and told me that it was all the school's fault and the classroom teacher's fault and that her son was just being maligned. She even thought it would be a good idea to have a playdate again. Maybe we could all ride bikes together. 

Now I did try because we were all there, all the parents and we could keep a watch on the situation. I thought maybe in the back of my head, that the school had handled the situation incorrectly. So the boys would try to race bikes in the parking-lot. When he thought noone was looking, this boy tried to ruin CM2's bike so he couldn't ride it. Luckily I saw it and reported it to hubby who was busy being social with the boy's father. Of course his mom saw it and thought it was terrific. Never again. It was very obvious that this boy needed alot more help than anyone was willing to give him and his mother could use some major anti-psychotics as well. 

The absolute last straw was when the boy hurt himself and tried to blame it on CM2. In fact the school called me then to let me know what was going on. Which was good since wacko-mom called me to complain about a scratch on her son's hand. A scratch. Her mentally-ill-son had been beating on my child and destroying his projects all year, for that I never got a call. never a "we'll take care of it"; never an "I am sorry." I told her the school called and said that CM2 had done nothing to her son. She said her son didn't lie. I told her that obviously he did and hung up on the bitch.

Years later we ran into the boy and his father at a movie theater. Wherever CM2 went the boy tried to get in front of him. If CM2 was looking at a picture, the boy had to step in front of my son. If CM2 wanted candy at the food counter this boy stood in front of CM2 so he couldn't' see what was available. Hubby was besides himself that these parents were such morons. When I told the school that this boy was still abusive to CM2 if he could be, that idiot VP told me they thought he had made progress. I told them obviously not and to make sure that child stayed very far away from my son or else.

Throughout CM2's education, through 12th grade, I told every counselor and every teacher and every aide about this child and to be on the lookout. They told me that even in middle school he was up to his old tricks and tried to hurt CM2. One day in the lunch line it looked like the boy was going to go after CM2, but the aide quickly intervened. The aide told me that boy gave her the "willies." To this day his parents think of him as a maligned, picked on child who was simply too smart, too good and too above everyone else. That he was the victim of bullying instead of the perpetrator.

You know what the irony is..that wackadoodle-mom is a children's book author and wrote books about a decade ago about how to help your bullied child. You really can't make this shit up....

Until next time,