Culture, Education, Gender, Parenting, Relationships, Sexuality, Society — April 13, 2012 at 11:36 am

Asperger’s Syndrome and Being Bullied

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There was a very sobering video posted today on the facebook blog page, courtesy of Stop Teenage Suicide and Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.  Sobering because it was a mother telling how her 5-year-old son had been bullied to the point where he wanted to die.  Five years old!!!  There can’t be a more resounding wake-up call than that.

The story of 5-year-old Aden is both heartbreaking and familiar.  Heartbreaking, for obvious reasons.  When you have anyone feeling so much emotional pain because of the actions of a few people who carelessly abuse them because they are “different”, that’s a problem.  When you have a 5-year-old saying he wants to die because of the treatment he’s getting, that’s a 5-alarm blaze.

I could connect with this because Marty, my 23-year-old surrogate son, deals with the same issue.  Like Aden, Marty is not your average Joe.  He’s uniquely Marty.  And, that’s okay.  He’s highly intelligent, as I’m sure Aden is as well.  He yearns to be accepted by his peers, like Aden; yet, because he’s perceived as different, it’s a constant challenge for him to gain acceptance .  As a result, he struggles with social anxiety.  Like Aden, all he yearns for is to be accepted, by his peers, by anybody…simply for being Marty.  That’s not asking too much.  Isn’t that what we all want?  Sure it is.  And, sadly, like Aden, Marty has voiced on occasions that “I don’t belong in this world”.  I’ve worked hard for 3 1/2 years to show him that he’s wrong.

Like Marty, Aden will grow into the understanding that there IS a place in this world for him.  He’s got an incredible mother who, right now while he’s still very young, is Aden’s “voice”.  On that, alone, he’s got a leg up on Marty.  But, that’s a whole different story.  Like Marty, Aden will grow into the understanding that Asperger’s is simply something he has to deal with in his life, but it’s not who he is.  In the 3 1/2 years he’s been with me, Marty has done nothing but grow.  It’s amazing what positive reinforcements can do for a person.  It’s sad, though, that he had to wait until he was an adult before he had someone who would take the time to give him that daily positive reinforcement.  And, that gives Aden a major leg up!!!  His mother, in speaking out with this video, should win “Mother of the Year” accolades!!  Asperger’s isn’t a death sentence.  It’s just extra luggage to carry as you embark on your journey through life.

Here’s the real problem.  How is it that five-year-old kids can be so intolerant and mean as to make one of their peers want to end his life!?  That’s a REAL problem!!  And, there’s no way you can blame a 5-year-old for that behavior.  I’ve said it a thousand times but, obviously, it needs to be said tens of thousands more times:  the issue of bullying isn’t just about the young people, IT’S THE ADULTS WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON!!  The young people are learning this level of meanness and intolerance from people much older than themselves.  Take that to the bank.  And, perhaps, it isn’t the parents, directly.  Maybe it’s the older siblings.  However, the link still goes back to the parents.  Adults are the root to this whole bullying problem, like it or not.  The issue with Aden makes that woefully clear.

I challenge every single adult and, especially, parent to monitor themselves.  Do it for a week.  How are the young people in your life seeing you deal with other people, people you perceive as different?  How are they hearing you talk about a different ethnic group than your own, about members of the LGBT community, about someone with a disability?  How they see and hear YOU deal with people you perceive as “different” is how they are taught to deal with them.  Plain and simple.  And, as is made obvious by this video and 5-year-old Aden, they learn young.

Spread love.

Embrace diversity.

Teach acceptance.

It’s the only way we’re going to change this culture of hatred and intolerance.  As Aden’s mother stated poetically in the video:  “Love…cures.  Hate…kills.  Be nice to others.  It starts with you.”  It’s really just that simple.

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31 Comments

  1. you know kids were bullied when I was in grade school, I know, I was one of them. but now it seems to worse. or at least it is being taken to lengths not seen back then? I can’t believe that it is merely appearing to be worse as it is seen more readily with modern media and people being more apt to tell their stories.

  2. So sad. And so true that it starts w/ the adults. Excellent article.

  3. I know how that kid feels, I got to that point but the difference is….I actually tried :'( I’m so glad I failed, because I wouldn’t have the friends I have today or the love and respect 🙂 That kid is worth more than his weight in gold and has so much to contribute to the world and us as a people. I only hope he grows up believing it.

  4. I’ve been here with my son, and Thankfully We are doing Great now!!!!! He tests “Genius” but according to many of his “peers” was considered ” different” And this is one PROUD Mama who is greatful everyday for the very differences that make him the wonderful person he has grown to be ! ♥

  5. This makes me sad and scared. My eldest is being referred for probably Asperger’s. I homeschool right now, but I may not be able to do it forever. 🙁 I don’t want my baby to ever go through this.

  6. There are people who like to throw out labels like “Asperger’s Syndrome” against people they don’t like, such as trained historians with a good memory for dates. The people who like to attach such labels to people are often not trained psychiatrists or psychologists, or even qualified counsellors, but political opponents or angry family members in a dispute.

    • Paul, there’s no need to be so dismissive and mean-spirited. I was a teacher for 34 years, I worked with kids like Aden, and I know how difficult life is for these kids and their parents. Paul, I think you are saying that if you say something doesn’t exist, it goes away. That’s called magical thinking.

  7. losing too many kids to this – gotta stop.

  8. I have Aspergers.

    It’s been a ball and chain all of my life as far as other people are concerned socially, but I wouldn’t give up having it for the world.

    It’s made me incredibly calm and even minded, allowed me to have great talents, and turn one of my obsessions into a great career.

    Part of that is using your innate intelligence and talents to do other things than just obsess about what interests you.

    You have to learn to read and copy the way “normal” people behave socially, as well as understanding that you may wind up running off a few friends and lovers just because of who you are. If you can remember who got a home run for what team in 1978, you can mimic the behaviors of other people, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

    Parents should make sure these children have access to animals as well. Animals are a lifesaver for a lot of other people I have met with Aspergers or any autism, since people are commonly petty, judgmental, unreliable, boring, and cruel.

    Coddling however, won’t do a damn thing but ensure you have a pretty useless precious snowflake on the dole for the rest of their lives. Push, remind, have patience, but never pretend that the whole big cruel world can be avoided away.

    Kids should also be taught a trade early, since most people with Aspergers don’t do well in the work force based on social compatibility with others, the best being some sort of job that is a part of that person’s realm of obsession.

  9. My nephew has Aspergers and it pisses me off to no end when people make fun of the name.

  10. My son has aspergers and the bullying he went through has left him and I traumatized!!! I home school him now.

  11. i have asbergers and ive felt suicidal a lot over the past few weeks 🙁

  12. My son has Aspergers and I know that people are very mis- informed about it. There are people who are just cruel.

  13. my daughter has asd (aspergers) and also cerebral palsy (which is mild ) she was being hit kicked and verbally abused by a group of ten kids in her class… took months and in the end a letter to the board of governors to get it reduced to manageable levels…. she didnt understand why they were doing it … she is at a mainstream school …. she was 8-9 years old when it started

  14. I have Asperger’s. It’s definitely not easy, but I love being an Aspy all the same. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  15. My son has Autism. And right now, he’s young and pretty much oblivious to the kids that make fun of him. I know someday that will change and I fear what he will encounter in school as he gets older.

  16. Being different is what makes us all the same.

  17. I come down on the other side of that line. I, too, have Asperger’s, but if a cure were offered I’d take it in a heartbeat.

  18. Could someone explain what Asperger’s actually is? We, unfortunately, have many chronic illnesses in our family, ranging from Epilepsy to degenerative nerve disorders…but I’ve never heard of this at all.

  19. I’m 37 and have Asperger Syndrome and was bullied at age 7 when I moved schools,thanks for posting this.

  20. ♥ for all who need it. No one is alone, even when they feel like it most.

  21. Shoot, I’m 25 and I still deal with wanting to find a place I “fit in”. Honestly though, I wish people didn’t have to feel like they had to fit in. Just everyone love everyone and be accepting of who they are, as long as they are being respectful to others. I’m glad that these issues are becoming more outspoken today. It was shoved under the rug a lot more when I was younger. I was bullied and told to just let it go. It often felt like when teachers or the principle talked to the kids who were being bullied that it was something they did wrong, that’s how I felt as well. It was something I did wrong.

  22. I’m 21 and I have asperger’s syndrome and I’ve been bullied alot in the past. Even though the bullying has stopped, the scars still remain.

  23. I have a 25 yo daughter with Asperger’s and am in the process of getting my own diagnosis. Having lived through it and watching my daughter live through it I would not say it is a pleasant thing to live with although my daughter has fared better than I. She is the most loving, giving and happy person I have ever known and although she went through a tremendous amount of bullying during her childhood, she maintains an extremely positive attitude. She is what I wish I could be. I had a considerably different and darker childhood which left me with a lot of anger that I continue to struggle with. Medication helps a great deal but not entirely. But I do have to add that “it gets better”.

  24. My son’s high school English teacher loudly says “I wish your mother would stop emailing me” embarrassing him in front of the whole class. But if I bring it up to the principal, she will just deny it and make it worse for my son who is graduating in just a few weeks. I will do everything I can to get him graduated, and then I will raise holy hell before my daughter starts at that school next year. My son had three years of being bullied by teachers at that school. My husband attended his first 504 meeting last month (to add Aspergers, which is why he didn’t have an IEP) and couldn’t believe how the teachers acted. What is ironic, as far as 504 meetings go, I thought it wasn’t so bad. He should have been at the one where the 504 coordinator said that we didn’t want for my son to have an IEP because we wanted our son to get a diploma. REALLY??!!

  25. Paul #2, It’s on the autism spectrum and has a lot to do with social communication. I find a lot of people with Aspergers are extremely intelligent. They suspect Einstein had Aspergers or some form of autism. My favorite billboard had a photo of Einstein and said “As a student, he was no Einstein.” That has given me comfort over the years when I despaired that my son would every graduate…still has a month to go though.

  26. My 14 year old son Patrick is Autistic and he get bullied a lot. I spend a lot of time talking to the school about it. I recently asked that he have some one walk him to the Buses because kids have started knocking him down.

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