The U. S. Department of Education Gets It.

There are several articles on bullying in the news today.  The one that really caught my eye and made me shout hooray is the one about the Department of Education .

They finally get what I’ve been saying all along.  We have laws already that if enforced would protect most of the people who are victims of bullying.  I sent an e-mail to Lee Hirsch last month after seeing ABC’s  “Bullied to Death,” asking him why there was no mention of prosecution in the case where the girl was assaulted in front of her home, or in the case of the You Tube video created by little girls telling ways to kill another little girl.  I also pointed out that the seventeen year old in Georgia who committed suicide after repeated bullying should have been protected under the ADA.

Finally, the U. S. Department of Education gets that at least some incidents of bullying should still fall under current laws, as according to the link below they are “reminding schools that some incidents could violate more than a local code of conduct.”  They are reported to have sent a letter from the Office of Civil Rights indicating specific cases would rise to the level of discriminatory harassment.  They noted protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, sex, age, disability in programs or activities that receive federal financial aid.

They also note that if a school limits its response to specific application of its anti-bullying disciplinary policy, the school may fail to properly address discriminatory harassment.  I say it is about time that someone realized this.  Now if we could just educate parents, maybe they’ll actually teach their children that their actions can have dire consequences.  Lets hope some of them actually are reading the latest news.

As I said before, involving the law would be my last resort if either of my children are ever bullied again.  I really want children to avoid prosecution, but until parents actually get back to teaching tolerance and kindness, I’m afraid it may be the only way to get through to some of our youth.  Parents please educate your children.  I don’t want a child to die or to go to jail.  Those of us trying to make changes just want you to get it, so we can all forgive and move on with our lives.

Unlike Life, Fiction Makes Forgiveness Look Easy 5

I love fiction because you can write things the way you wish they were.  You can create as much support as you wish were available for families struggling to understand a child’s differences.  Fiction also allows the child with autism spectrum to be presented in a positive light.  Too many times real life does not do this.  People judge harshly when they do not understand, and somethings cannot be taken back.  They can hopefully be forgiven, but forgiveness sometimes takes time.

Most people have trouble forgiving people who deeply wound them, but add the dimension of Asperger’s and multiply the time and effort it takes to forgive by ???  I really do not have an exact number, as like neurotypicals, every individual on the spectrum is unique.  The wounds are certainly deeper, but then I think bullying deeply wounds any child.  Yet, in my book, Delightfully Different, Mia forgives after a couple of years.  I want to be clear; I love fiction!!!

I put most of the responsibility for forgiveness on Mia in the book.  In reality, I know the child with Asperger’s has to see the parent forgive first.  This is not easy for the parent either.  When someone wounds your child how do you forgive?  It certainly is difficult!  That is why I really am grateful to Immaculee Ilibagiza for her example.

Time and infinite support help us to learn how to forgive.  It is not something that comes quickly.  It involves baby steps, three forward, five back, then three-step forward again for what seems like an impossible amount of time, if it happens at all.  It also involves love and patience and acceptance of why the process is so difficult.  Ideally, it involves the other person meeting them at least half way, if not three-quarters of the way repeatedly.  When this does not  happen the process can take longer.  There is still hope, but it does take time.

A friend once told me that it is too bad that we cannot have a do over with our first child, the way we can with a piece of pottery when it crashes.  I really do not want a do over, but I do wish I had done so many things differently.  I love my children the way they are, so I would not do either of them over even if I could, but I would do it differently with the knowledge I have now.

Delightfully Different is a work of fiction, so Mia’s mother did things differently than I did.  She also has two wonderful sisters, while I have none.  The point I am making is do not assume the book is about my family, it really is not.  There are similarities because I am the writer and we write what we know, but I can assure you none of the characters in my story exist in real life.

Therefore, this story is not like Look Me in the Eye or Running with Scissors.  It isn’t like The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night either.  Remember all three of these were about boys or men, not girls.  The only meanness is from the mean girls.  The only sadness is from “normal” life events and the frustration caused by misunderstandings.

The subtle traits Mia’s family and doctors miss are real traits of Asperger’s that are frequently missed especially in girls, the bullying Mia experiences really happens every day in our schools.  The rest is just a story that I totally enjoyed writing, and I hope you will enjoy reading.

I welcome your comments and after you have read the story, I welcome your reviews on the bookstore sites, as well as here.

Coping With Emotional Scars of Bullying 1

Mia Lung is a character in the novel, Delightfully Different. ©D. S. Walker

Mia Lung is a character in the novel, Delightfully Different. ©D. S. Walker

The following is an excerpt from my book, Delightfully Different. Mia is talking as she tries to heal from the emotional scars bullying left.

Part of me wanted to become an advocate for all of the kids who were delightfully different like me. Delightfully different was what Mom called me. I still wasn’t brave enough to speak up. I didn’t trust people enough yet. I wanted to believe there were good people who would understand; unfortunately, our society seemed mean to me. There were TV shows where people ambushed their “friends,” so they could tell them how awfully they dressed. There were people who posted things on the Internet about my generation. They said, “This generation needs to get tougher. Their parents overprotect them. There has always been bullying of kids who are different.”

They said that those of us who were different just needed to learn to fit in, as if it were our fault that we were mistreated. They didn’t think that society should make accommodations for us at all. They implied that our sensory issues were something that our overprotective parents invented. They even blamed our parents for our sensory issues.

Our society was advancing technically, but it was returning to an age of barbarians in terms of the way we treated others. Honestly, what gave anyone the right to judge what I or anyone else wore? Why should I have to be just like everyone else? More important, why would I want to?

Mia’s mom explains to her that she has to learn to forgive to avoid becoming the mean one and I firmly believe this is true.  I hope once people are better educated about how bullying affects those on the Autism Spectrum, that others will come to the aid of the victims, and support them the way they currently support kids who have a physical illness or injury.  That is my dream for the future.  For with understanding and support, I truly believe we can eliminate bullies or at least eliminate any power they have to harm others.

Lessons of Forgiveness 5

IMG_8711How do we forgive those who hurt our loved ones? It certainly isn’t easy. I am fortunate in that I had just finished reading Immaculee Ilibagiza’s book Left to Tell at the time I learned about the bullies who hurt my child otherwise I might have reacted the same way as the dad in Florida who stormed the bus. I also got to hear Immaculee in person and meet her face to face during this time. She is a truly wonderful person and she inspired me to learn to forgive the bullies.

Still for me forgiveness is a work in progress especially when I hear about other kids being hurt by bullies. For those who don’t know Immaculee’s story, she survived the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994. She and one of her brothers, who was out of the country, are the only survivors from her family. While in hiding she overheard the murders of her younger brother describing his death as they called for her so they could kill her too. Yet, she forgave them as she realized that remaining angry would hurt her. When I met her, what struck me the most is how serene she is and the fact that she is clear that forgiveness does not mean forgetting.

I hope in some small measure my book will inspire someone to learn to forgive without forgetting and maybe they’ll inspire someone else to do the same. Let’s all really work at passing this message on to others. Thanks again for listening to me as I blog.


D. S. Walker