Dear Autism Mom 18

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

I hate that I disappointed you so much that you felt you could only give my novel one star. Yet, you make me wonder. Are you really a special needs parent, or are you one of the bullies, who does not like that I still speak out about how wrong bullying is? There are three reasons I think this is likely.

First, I do not believe a special needs parent would intentionally wound anyone; especially not another special needs mom. Second, special needs moms who do take the time to leave reviews on Amazon.com usually have more than one book they have reviewed. Their name would identify them as an autism mom too. They would not use the name “Mom.” Third, I see a pattern. The only bad review Delightfully Different received previously appeared on Barnes and Noble just after my local book signing. The most recent review appeared the day I announced on Facebook that I was appearing on a local radio station the next day.

Your review would be wounding if I thought you really were a mother of a girl with Asperger’s. No author wants to disappoint her audience, and as a special needs parent, I really do not want to disappoint another parent. I apologize if you are truly a parent of a child with Asperger’s, and I want to explain a few things to you.

My daughter saw psychologists from the time she was in kindergarten. She did not receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s until she was ten. During that time we listened to bad advice and followed it. Therefore, my book was not written just to address bullying. I do not believe the information on the cover indicates that it was. I am reasonably sure you know that if you are a special needs parent.

I wrote it because too many doctors, teachers, and others let us down along the journey to getting my daughter’s diagnosis. I wanted to help other parents avoid the pitfalls by clearly showing signs of Asperger’s and sensory sensitivity that doctors and others missed when my daughter was younger. I hoped to educate extended family members too. My daughter realized she was different and she did not know why. She saw herself as flawed, and she thought we saw her that way too. This allowed the bullies to inflict deeper emotional wounds. The fact that the Queen Bee was someone she previously trusted and confided in did not help either.

Thankfully, she no longer sees herself that way, but she is still working to recover from the wounds inflicted by a group of vicious girls and an intolerant English teacher. I really hope you are not one of her tormentors, but I have a message for you if you are. You will not get me to shut up by criticizing my novel. Every author has people who do not like their style of writing, and even bad reviews can sell novels. So, mahalo for writing your review, and mahalo for giving me a new resolve to write a better second novel that will address cyberbullying.

I have one more message for her former bullies if you are reading this. I hope one day you will wake-up and realize how wrong you are, and you will have the guts to tell her how sorry you are. Please do not expect her to absolve you of your sins. You are no longer important enough for her to wish you pain, but years of abuse cannot be forgiven overnight. I do hope you can forgive yourself and that you will turn your life around and help others instead of inflicting more pain.

No U Turns in Life Either 5

In Life Either

Bullying affects families not just the child who experiences it. This is why I am continuing Mia’s story from the point of view of her brother, Cal. Those of you just beginning to follow my blog might not know who Cal is. You can click on the menu to Cal’s Story Begins to find out. You may need to click pages from the menu to reach it depending on your reader source.

I ask those of you who know my family to realize that both stories are works of fiction despite being based on my daughter’s experience with bullying. Still, I want to be clear here. Bullying really did affect our entire family much more than her diagnosis did. Damage done by any type of abuse cannot be undone, but it can get better and it can help others to avoid pitfalls.

We are all mending and just the other day my son touched my heart when he told me that his sister’s experience taught him to be tough. He has learned good comebacks to use when kids try to bully him because of this. He said my work and his sister’s experience have taught him the value of being kind to others. I am so proud of him.

I started posting outlines last January and a friend suggested I was trying to put too much in the first chapter. She was right. I do not plan to post the complete story here, but I want to share the beginning with you and get your input.

Wow! Mia is practically glowing. I guess I would be too if I were her. How many people get to hear their high school orchestra play their composition at their own graduation? It’s amazing how far she’s come in the last seven years. I still remember the horror our family went through ….

Mia, what is wrong with you? Mom did you see that? She tried to hit me with her bag. Aren’t you going to do something?

Mom asked me to please be quiet until we got home. Then she just talked to Mia instead of punishing her. Mom’s raised eyebrows and piercing green eyes greeted me in the rearview mirror, when I started to say more. She actually made me feel bad for upsetting Mia instead of defending me like I thought she would.

She did try to explain after we got home, “I’m sorry this isn’t fair to you, but for now, I have to cut her some slack. She is going through a very rough time right now, and she didn’t actually hit you. I promise I will make it up to you later, and I certainly won’t allow her to harm you. For now, it’s probably best if you try to avoid her when she is upset.”

Yes, I knew all about Mia’s former friends and how they bullied her, but Mom’s explanation was more about Mia than I liked. What about me? Does Mom really think Mia’s problem isn’t affecting me?

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried talking to Mom about Mia. Just two weeks ago, Mia punched me in the arm on the way home from school. Mom’s response then was to pull the car over and refuse to drive until we both apologized. It was so unfair! Mia started it, and I was the one who was hurt just like today. I tried talking to Dad about it, but he sided with Mom.

I have to come up with a plan to get Mom and Dad to understand that Mia’s behavior is scary, and she is destroying my social life too. I can’t even have my friends over right now because we can’t upset Mia. What is that about? I live here too!

I retreated to my room and locked the door to avoid more of Mia’s abuse. Then it hit me! I learned arbitration skills at school. I needed to apply them at home. I unzipped my black backpack, pulled out my pen and paper, and sat at my desk as I thought of what to say.

Problem List

1. I need love and support just like Mia.

2. I need to be able to have my friends over.

3. I need Mia to stop abusing me.

4. I need someone to really listen and to really hear how Mia treats me.

5. I need help with my life sometimes too. After all I’m still a kid.

6. I miss our old family, the one where we ate meals together and discussed our day and where we actually went out to dinner sometimes.

Potential Solutions

1. I know you have to give Mia extra time. I get it I really do, but I need at least one of you to be there for me too.

2. I realize Mia is fragile, but how am I supposed to maintain my friendships if I can never have anyone over?

3. This should really be number one! I never bullied Mia. She has to stop bullying me and she has to have real consequences when she does.

4. Do either of you realize the awful things she says to me or really see the hate in her eyes when she looks at me? I need you to pay attention. You have to start seeing and hearing.

5. I need to be able to come to you when I have a problem too. I still need help with homework sometimes,  and I still need to talk about my day. This has to be okay. You have to make time for me too.

6. Why can’t we still go around the table and talk about how our day went instead of just talking about how Mia’s day went?  I understand Mia does not want to go out, but can’t the three of us still go out? Can’t Ah Ma and Ah Gung come over and stay with Mia?

I feel better. I have a plan. Now all I have to do is wait for Dad to come home and find a time to talk to Mom and Dad.

“Bully” 3

I was first in line to see it this morning. Initially, it looked like I would be the only one there, but thankfully a few more showed up.

Kindness Matters - Photo of My Car Magnet ©DelightfullyDifferentLife

Kindness Matters! It’s just one of the take away messages of the movie, Bully. It is the message that the kids need to get and that some are getting as they join in the cause to help prevent bullying and to support the victims.

There are more important messages for the adults!

  • Blaming the victim for not telling you is not acceptable especially if you gave them empty promises of protection in the past while they continued to be tormented.
  • Scolding them for not forgiving their tormentor is not helpful either.
  • Apathetic attitudes regarding the severity of the problem are not helpful.
  • Excusing meanness that does not result in bloody noses or broken bones is also inexcusable.

We see teachers, parents, principals, vice principals, law enforcement, and bus drivers letting kids down again and again. One child takes matters into her own hands and threatens her tormentors with a real gun. FYI one boy had threatened to sexually assault this teenager, so it is not like she had not been threatened. I do not condone taking a gun to school, but I do understand why she did it, and I found the sheriff to be offensive when he said that she had no cause for this action because she had not been physically assaulted. He thinks she should be locked up for a hundred years despite the fact that the gun wasn’t fired, and she had never been in trouble previously. You’ll find out her fate if you watch the movie.

I will be writing a longer review for Special-Ism for publication on the fourth of May, so I am not going to say more about the movie itself right now. I merely hope schools will encourage their staff and students to see the movie.