Enormous Gratitude 4

Today I am grateful that Steve Jobs saw his and others’ differences as a good thing and chose to be vocal about his insights. I hope others will remember his example and realize that those with differences really are the ones who change the world for the better.

I am also grateful that Hawaii is finally getting more active in the fight against bullying and that Hawaii News Now interviewed my daughter and me about this. I am also grateful that I had a chance to talk about how everyone can help this week in a nineteen minute health segment on Dr. Kathleen Kozak’s show on Hawaii Public Radio.

Small Part in Helping to Make the World Better 10

There are times I feel smaller and less significant than this Gecko, but I am not about to let that stop me from doing my small part for bully prevention.  Everyone who knows me knows this is a cause very dear to my heart.  October is  Bullying Prevention Awareness Month so I am grateful that Dr. Kathleen Kozak has invited me back to the “The Body Show” on Hawaii Public Radio at KIPO 89.3 FM on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 5:oo PM HST.  You can click on the link then click on KIPO for the live stream.  You can also read more about ways you can help at the sites listed below.  

Bullying prevention advocates call for social movement to address effects of bullying | kare11.com.

National Bullying Prevention Center.

Bullying Prevention Awareness Month (October 2011) | National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Child Trauma Home.

Golden Rule Pledge Joins National Bullying Prevention Month as National Partner – Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog.

Stomp Out Bullying.

Glee Needs to Apologize to Autism Community for Recent Episode 22

I hope all of you will write to Fox: askfox@fox.com to request an apology from the writers of Glee.  They require the following: In order for us to quickly help you, would you be so kind as to email us with the following additional details:

Your City:

Your Fox Station:

Your Zip Code:

Actual Channel Tuned to:

Cable or Satellite or Antenna?:

–If cable or satellite, your provider?

Type of Set Top Box Used (Name and Model if available):

Are there other times when the problem happens (like during another show or during local news)?:

Here is my letter:

To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing because I have a sixteen year old daughter diagnosed with Asperger’s.  She was diagnosed when she was ten and experienced severe bullying at school in fifth grade.  She has never been initially rude to her teachers, she has near prefect pitch and she is unlikely to request any special privileges especially about something that would call attention to her.  Imagine my reaction to the most recent Glee episode where a character named Sugar, “self diagnosed” with Asperger’s, was rude to a teacher, demanding special privileges including the right to be rude to the teacher, and to join the Glee Club when she is unable to carry a tune.
My daughter recently left a school she loved and had attended for ten years due to an intolerant teacher not understanding how having Asperger’s and the long-term effects of bullying made one assignment impossible for her.  She is still trying to adjust to attending an on-line school.  She misses seeing her friends everyday and in case you are wondering, yes it is possible to have friends when you have Asperger’s.  Her friends are open-minded, caring, and wonderful people.
Imagine how seeing Asperger’s be the brunt of jokes would make my daughter and others feel.  I hope you can imagine and you will request the writers to offer a public apology for all the girls like my daughter who deserve so much more from a show that they love and that has previously shown tolerance for others.  Please help restore my faith in this show and in your network by responding.
Most sincerely,
Sue Kam

aka D. S. Walker
authordswalker.com
Delightfully Different Facebook Page
Twitter: @dswalkerauthor

The Effects of Bullying: Robert’s Story 4

Join me in welcoming Robert to my first Effects of Bullying Series.

Robert’s Story

I’m convinced that schools and me were never meant to get on; my trouble with handwriting, spelling and mental mathematics caused a lot of grief. But there was something else present every day, which I detested more: break time.

For me, someone who likes to be forever mentally engaged, break time was the dullest thing ever invented. The other children would talk and play team games like football while I sat in an alcove in the corner of the playground, avoiding the missiles, waiting for the bell to go back inside.

Around nine at the time, an undiagnosed autistic, my interests lay in creativity and making things. I began bringing my creations along with me. So rather than hiding in the corner doing nothing at all, I would work on one of my projects. That’s when the bullying started.

I no longer remember many of the details, but a few students decided that it was a good game to steal and smash-up my creations. Or when they could not steal my stuff, like in class, they would threaten to smash-up my creations, doing hand gestures across the room, like snapping a ruler between clenched fists.

These things represented a great deal of time and effort and I was working with very limited resources and almost no money. Materials and tools were sacred, I worked mainly with what I could find around the house. Breaking, or threatening to break my creations was like breaking a part of me. None of these things could be easily replaced.

Like typical British primary schools, my school was very small; avoiding the bullies was not possible. Nothing the staff did made any noticeable difference and the only friends I had at the time, while great technically minded individuals themselves, were also targets and could do nothing to help. I felt trapped with nowhere to go.

A ray of hope I had been the move to senior school; a completely new set of people and nobody knows me, a chance to start over. The reality was the opposite, even though I had moved beyond lugging projects around a new set of bullies picked up my differences and the bullying started again, but worse.

Instead of focusing on my possessions, this new set of bullies started attacking me personally, kicking, punching and verbal abuse. I was terrified to go anywhere alone, hid in the Special Educational Needs room over breaks and lunch and refused to go anywhere without a support worker for protection.

Combined with the increased demand on handwriting, this meant I was always on edge, always looking for an escape route if something went bad and always ready to meltdown. Unfortunately the latter happened rather a lot, drawing more attention to my differences and making the problem exponentially worse.

These problems and the bullying continued relentlessly. Finally getting a computer eliminated my writing difficulties but the problems only really stopped when I eventually left school and went to college.

Anxiety, fear and constant observation of the environment; always looking for danger, are often cited as symptoms of mild autism. But my own experiences say something different, they are side effects of a difficult childhood.

I have never completely recovered from the bullying in my childhood. While I have been able to overcome my fear of going out alone, I am still very shy and have had no friends to speak of since primary school. My interests and current projects are kept to myself and I’m more likely to accept something as given, or just avoid it altogether, rather than argue.

It gets easier, slowly.