I awoke shortly after three AM to get ready for my first television interview at one of our local news stations. I was nervous and afterward I thought of other things I should have said including mentioning what a broad spectrum autism truly is, yet despite this and having a bad hair day today of all days, I survived. I do ask that you keep in mind that I only had two and a half minutes to talk and believe me when I say it went by fast. You can view it here.
I often tell my daughter that her brother is the best gift I ever gave her and I honestly mean this. Of course having an older sibling is also a gift. There are several reasons I believe having a sibling is a gift.
The first is that you have someone who shares many of the same life experiences. They know exactly what you mean when you refer to a funny family story. Plus, when you want your parents to change a rule, you have an ally, and if Mom and Dad seem unreasonable there is someone to agree with you.
Siblings are our first friends and they help us to learn valuable life skills. We learn negotiation skills and tolerance of differences by working to resolve disagreements that arise with our siblings. Working together to get something you both want also gives you team building skills.
People may think being the younger sibling of someone on the autism spectrum is hard. However, my son and I both know that the hardest part of our lives has never been related to his sister’s diagnosis. The hardest part has all been related to the bullying.
This made my son much more aware of bullying issues than many of his peers. He talks to me about things that happen at school because he knows he can trust me to try to help him resolve issues. He knows keeping quiet or allowing someone to get away with abusing someone is wrong. He still has trouble with not wanting to “tattle,” but he does realize the value of the bystander and that “reporting,” people who harm others is important. These are all things he learned from having a sibling.
The value of siblings does not end after you are grown either. I am grateful for my brothers still. Two of them were there for our parents when I was far away. The third was also far away; therefore, I have someone who understands how hard being away from home was as my parents aged. My husband and I have implemented plans to try to diminish the burden on our children as we age. Still, I think they will be grateful for each other when the time comes for them to take on the responsibility of making hard adult decisions.
I’m not sure how many of you watched Dateline Sunday night, “My Kids Would Never…Bully” after I tweeted it on Friday, but I watched it and loved it. Two of the bystanders were very brave and spoke up and defended the victim and then continued to defend the victim when the bullying got worse. Yay Lilly and Isaiah!!!!!!! Others joined in once one person spoke up. We really need more of this. Others also made efforts to support the victim, but some were not forceful enough for it to make a difference. Bystanders really can make a difference when they are firm and persistent!!!!
I also loved that they emphasized that adults set the tone and actually showed how bad coaching or really any bad authority figure can contribute to escalating bullying and more people joining the bully. Of note, one girl, who admitted liking Gossip Girl style was easily pulled into joining the bullies. This brings home a point I made in a previous posts about watching mean girl shows. You can read it here. One of the boys was also drawn into helping the bullies, but this was after the bad example set by the “coach” of observing the bullying and then not doing anything to help and in fact making it worse.
Another nice thing they did that I love is they gave links to sites with more information to take action against the bullying. I also love that Rosalind Wiseman emphasized the importance of the bystander speaking up and being assertive and firm rather than being kind when confronting the bully. The guy from the Hetrick-Martin Institute also pointed out that calling someone “gay” has become the new way to bully even when the victim is not “gay.” This happens on sports teams and at school.
The resources they listed are: http://rosalindwiseman.com
http://hmi.org (This is the Hetrick-Martin Institute who were also on the show to help.)
http://glsen.org (The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network)
Do you have examples of bad teachers, coaches, parents, or other adults contributing to the bullying?
The video is by two middle school kids who want to help make a difference. Gotta love them!
However, I am not sure if this judge did enough. Read the two articles below and let me know what you think.