We were a happy family in the spring of 2001. We were in the land where wishes and dreams all come true. Yes, I mean Disneyland, but I also am talking about our hopes and dreams for our family too. The future looked bright.
Traveling was difficult at times even then, but we managed. That was before my daughter started kindergarten at a highly competitive school. It was prior to the diagnosis, prior to the bullying, and a decade before the term “social combat” was heard. If only, I could go back to that spring and somehow shield my daughter from all of the mistakes that followed, I would in a heartbeat.
Of course, I cannot, so instead I try to educate you so hopefully you can avoid our mistakes and the world can remain innocent for your children a little longer. I have learned the hard way that highly competitive schools and parents who push their children to always be number one at everything inadvertently encourage “social combat.” I want to help put an end to this.
I interact with many on Twitter who are working to prevent bullying and I keep trying to get the word out locally. Still, it feels like I am hitting my head against a brick wall and I am not sure for what anymore. My son already attends the school that I think is the best in the state at preventing and addressing bullying when it happens and my daughter no longer attends a brick-and-mortar school. I am not sure if anyone even listens to what I have to say except for those who already get it.
I am not giving up, but at times I do feel like I am giving out. I get frustrated because I have been trying to get through to people for five years and we still only have baby steps to address the problem. I get impatient with the experts who make it sound like the latest study is “groundbreaking” when the study only confirms what I have known all this time. Please world wakeup! Become kinder, gentler, more supportive, and more empathic. Save our children. They are our future.
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.
I hope all of you will write to Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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.
aka D. S. Walker
Delightfully Different Facebook Page
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.