Welcome to the first of many Collab Articles. I am collaborating this one with Allison from Unashamed Voices of Autism
There will also be related stories from both us on how we dealt with it reflect back on it and what we could of done differently..
This will be a two part post about bullying. The first part will be about dealing with being an Autistic in high school and way to avoid being bullied and the second part will be about dealing with Autistic bullying in the work force.
Bullying by Reid
Bullying is tough subject, the question is why do we get bullied? There is no real answer to it. Some will say that the bully is insecure about themselves so he targets someone he feels is weaker than himself. In high school the bully either picks someone less popular or different than most other students. The reason people hang around the bully is because it makes them feel cooler than the rest of the crowd.
When I was in high school I was targeted, not because I was different, but because I looked liked a easy target. But for me I had people looking out for me. My brother had graduated a year before me and all the upper clansmen knew him. But not everyone can be so lucky.
High school should be a fun time, a time where we make our mark and make friends. Sometimes those are friends who come from grammar school. But you will soon realize that high school changes a person. People want to be part of something bigger than them. What happens with this is, your friends will turn on you and than you feel small inside.
DO NOT let any of this ruin your time in high school. Here are some tips I can help you get through each day.
- Choose you friends wisely. These are the ones who will have your back
- Remember, people only bully because they feel less about themselves.
- Do not confront the bully. Remember no matter what he/she says has no impact on your life. For example (If a bully insults your mom, think to yourself, does he know your family or met them, no.. So what he says has no relevance to you)
- If a bully pushes you down, get up and brush yourself off, and don’t even acknowledge him/her.
- If a bully insults you, DO NOT let it get to know, move on with your life.
Bullies thrive off of the attention. Think of it like this. The attention is the fire and your reaction is the oxygen. The more oxygen you feed it the more it will grow. But if you remove the oxygen you snuff out the fire. So if you don’t react to the bullying, they will grow tired of picking on you, because they are not getting a reaction from you.
When I was in school. I wish I took my own advice. I tried to change who I was to be accepted. It worked but I was also scammed out my lunch money for protection. But I got smart later through the year.
Remember, be proud of who you are, no one can take that away from you.
In the work force, is different, people don’t know how to react to something different. Especially people who think differently than they do. They don’t realize we are just trying to be friendly.
Bullying by Allison
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides.
The definition of bullying is abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful. Bullying is when someone tries to make you feel less about who you are as a person, and you can’t make it stop.
When students have been bullied, they often believe they are the only one this is happening to, and that no one else cares. In fact, they are not alone. There are individuals, communities, and organizations that do care. It is not up to one person to end the bullying and it is never the responsibility of the child to change what is happening to them. No one deserves to be bullied. All people should be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what. Everyone has a responsibility – and a role to play – as schools, parents, students, and the community work together for positive change.
I was diagnosed with autism as a child and was absolutely terrified of transferring from junior high to high school. Pop culture tells us that we need to embrace our uniqueness and be true to ourselves, but at the same time if we are outwardly weird or different, we need to be shamed, especially when we are all pubescent imbalanced mess of chemicals in a public-school setting. I was absolutely terrified of going to high school where everyone around me changes hormonally as well as everything else. Will I still have the same group of friends I had throughout my childhood, or will we all drift apart? Will I fit into the stereotypical trope of a nerd who’s persistently shoved in lockers and getting wedges constantly? I was told a bazillion times from my parents that after high school, no one will care about who was the cheerleader captain, or the prom king & queen, no one will remember nor care if you were the weird kid who sat alone at lunch. That I shouldn’t be focused on my popularity level, or the socially minor achievements of being nominated for being a queen, but rather focus on doing what I enjoy doing- if that means joining a math team, or participating in a sport or whatever, do it if I’m happy. I always had that speech in the back of my mind that once I graduate from high school, none of that stuff will matter. What do I do when I am in high school? How do I prevent being that bullied nerd? I completely re-invented myself and became something I wish I didn’t become. I became the snarky, in your face obnoxious bully. I did this out of fear that if I showed I was a loud mouth who targeted the known popular people as well as those lesser than me, no one will target me. I was a snake, I looked and acted intimidating but deep down I was terrified of the unknown and struggled to trust people. I would insult you based on anything whether you looked like everyone else or if you were different. It didn’t matter, no one was off limits. I would insult you constantly every chance I got, whether I had an audience or not.
I had maybe 2-3 loyal friends tops who were in a bigger clique of the goth/punk misfits altogether. I didn’t really connect with the misfit clique except my few friends, who happened to be the most popular ones in it. I tried to connect with everyone in our clique, it just wasn’t there. So my only friends are the most popular misfits, who have a ton of friends, then they also have jobs & academic work like everyone else, which means very little time I got to spend time with them. I never got asked out on a date, I never had a boyfriend, my closest friends were constantly busy, so I didn’t get to hang out with them very much one on one. I’m talking about months and months of going around with not hanging out with them outside of school but hearing all the crazy ventures they did with my fellow clique members.
I was still bullied, I had cheerleaders write fake love notes and say a football player wrote it to me because he was interested in dating me. I knew they wanted to see me react with delight only to be rejected as the football player stumbles upon saying no without feeling too much guilt. I often would throw the note away & say “not interested anyways.” The cheerleaders would laugh in hysterics because said football player wasn’t good enough to get a dweeb like me, making him lesser of a human. They did this act persistently to me and I would continue with the same reaction of not caring, when deep down I did care. What was I going to do? Tell a teacher? Teacher can’t do anything other than telling them to quit it or move my seat somewhere else in the classroom. But I am going to see those cheerleaders again in the next class, or in the hallway or somewhere eventually & they will remember me telling on them which will make them bitter and want to continue to bully me elsewhere with worse consequences as I have seen them to do other victims. So, I kept giving the same reaction, they would continue with the same method of bullying over and over throughout the entire time I was in high school. So, all in all, what did I really gain from being a bully to others? I had a decrease in friendship opportunities, I’m sure my bad attitude didn’t help with the lack of dating, I was still bullied, and I wasn’t happy with myself. I never had got asked out on a date & I never had a boyfriend because I was so mean to everyone. I would get made fun of by everyone because of that, as no one wanted to date me so obviously there’s something wrong with me which was proven to be correct as I was a mean person.
If I could go back in time and relive my high school life, I would be nicer to people. I wouldn’t be so fearful of being bullied that I would lose sight of having friends, and dates. I would continue to give the same reaction of the false love notes, and that’s probably the only thing I would remain the same. Those football players didn’t deserve me, because I am a great person who doesn’t need validation for it by dating them. I hope you read this story and follow your own path. Do not follow mine, where you feel so overwhelmed and fearful of being bullied that you lose sight of what is important. I didn’t think anyone would care or could help me if I was bullied, the only person who had any control over it was myself, and I was wrong.
Adults are in no way immune to the problem. One in six has experienced bullying behavior in the workplace according to one report. Fear of income loss discourages individuals from reporting incidences or intervening on behalf of victims. With employment opportunities at a premium in the disability community, people with special needs are more susceptible to on the job bullying behavior with little to any recourse. Effects are far reaching; violence and intimidation cause harm to victims leaving support systems to cope with the aftermath.