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

Teachers Please Inspire and Support Our Children 8

I left a comment on a blog back in April about what I would want to tell the teachers of tomorrow. This is what I said:

“Please remind them that they have a responsibility to help our children and judging them does not help anyone. Remind them that they have a choice to be an inspiration or a detriment to our most vulnerable children. Advise them that even when children on the autism spectrum are teenagers they are not typical teenagers and asking them to write from a typical teenager’s perspective is ludicrous especially if a simple change in the assignment can avoid problems. Please beg them to assume the best rather than the worse about our children and to be aware that other things besides the class itself may affect our child’s ability to complete an assignment. Wrong assumptions can and do harm our children.”

Good teachers are the ones who are supportive of those who struggle either academically or socially without calling attention to the child. They promote kindness and tolerance and they avoid making assumptions. They realize each child is unique and they do not assume they know everything about a child on the autism spectrum or with any other diagnosis just because they have known other children with the same diagnosis. They realize past bullying can take years to overcome.  My daughter was fortunate to have a few of these teachers. 

Then we have teachers that bully our children as indicated in Teachers Bullying Your Child? Dealing With Teacher Problems.  Now, I cannot fathom a teacher intentionally harming a child, but I know many hurt my child whether they knowingly did so or not.  I believe they actually contributed to the bullying even if they did not knowingly bully her.  This has to stop!

One more thing that needs to stop is teachers who fail to recognize how long the effects of bullying last.  The teacher who ultimately caused my daughter to leave her school told me she did not see how bullying that happened over four years prior could still be affecting my daughter.  I have said it before and I am still saying it, the bullying caused more problems than Asperger’s traits and sensory sensitivity combined for my child.  My daughter’s school let us down by their lack of understanding.  Teachers, counselors, and school administration all need to read this, New Study Shows Long-Term Effects of Bullying Tied to Empathy « Bullying Stories and this, Long term effects of Bullying in girls and boys – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog: Child-Psych.org.

P.S. I have offered my services for free to my daughter’s former school, yet so far they have not accepted this offer. Maybe they think I have an agenda other than helping them, I do not know. I keep hearing stories about the same counselor making the same mistakes over and over again along with more bullying stories. I have to wonder why they are unwilling to accept help.

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.