About Me

My photo
SAHM of 3 wonderful kids, one brilliant one Asperger Syndrome. This is not a living shrine to his disorder, but rather a place to share & discuss the different challenges that came with it and other things about parenting & life in general.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I feel because he can't (Bullying Incident #2)

It’s difficult to be the new kid in high school, especially for a kid with Asperger. For my son, every day life in his school is a challenge. When he started his new school, I had a nagging suspicion that something will happen at school as he is socially awkward. But nothing prepared me for the phone call I received from him that day. My 15 year-old son, Will, who usually took the bus home asked me to pick him up from school. My instinct told me something was wrong and I drove to his school as fast as I could.

When he got in my car, I noticed that he was covered in chocolate milk right away. My heart sank and wanted to start questioning him, but I wanted to give him the chance to explain. Usually, he had a problem explaining himself, so I had to put all the information together like solving a puzzle.

During the lunch period, Will stood outside the cafeteria with his friends. A girl, who wasn't too friendly to him, opened a carton of chocolate milk and dumped it on his head as well as his shirt. He stood there stunned but unable to say anything. The girl, after saying a few nasty words, taunted him and walked off casually. She left him not covered in milk, but covered in shame. After her departure, Will cleaned himself up with the help of his friends and reported to the teacher. The worse thing was that he had to spend the next class with the very girl who'd done this to him. 

Anyone, in fact, any kid would have reacted otherwise. They would have fought back or at least come home to change. But my son didn't see any of those options. One of his problem or a blessing is that he can’t take hints or react fast enough. His brain is wired in such a way that he's not always able to empathize or even sympathize even with himself. To imagine him walking around school with that shirt on mortifies me 'till this day. And what made it more infuriating was that this girl knew of his disorder and knew that he wouldn't fight back.


Once I failed to get any attention from his counselor, his vice principal, and his principal. I came home, I called the police. They advised me to call them at school the next day, so the school faculty will be forced to take swift action. The next day, I called the counselor, V.P, and was directed to another V.P. that who said would forward my message. No one called.


While this matter was being investigated, two days after the incident to be precise, I got another call from Will during school hours. He said there were a group of kids led by that girl and they were creating a scene, taunting and calling him names like tattletale. I went straight to meet with his counselor and the vice principal. At the same time, I called and talked to the secretary of the District Superintendent. I told her why the principal hadn't call me yet. Was she too busy and too important to talk to me? Was my son's safety out of her job description? My mind was racing and my anger turned to rage.


A few hours later, I told the school faculty that I fear for my son's safety and demanded their action right away. I also went to court and filed a Temporary Restraining Order against this girl. Yes, I filed one against a 15-year-old, but not out of revenge but out of seeking justice for my son.  And finally after almost a week of these incidents, the principal called me at home and apologized. It seemed that she heard a long report from the Superintendent.
In the end, the girl and her father came and apologized. I withdrew the TRO from court. Now some may think that I went overboard and over reacted, but I do not think so. I felt terrible for having to take this to court, but it had to be done.  A clear message needed to be sent to the kids that bullying was not going to be tolerated.  And the school needed to know that their inaction was not going to go unnoticed.  No child should feel unsafe and no school should take bullying lightly. Yes, kids will be kids. High school is hard. But, for my son, it'll never be easy. Will is lucky that he's high-functioning and has a high I.Q. But it will be in his mid to late twenties before he is socially caught up. Until then, I will not sleep easy.

And for all the parents who has children with this disorder, I have something to say. Fight for your child's rights. Fight for your child's treatment. Fight for your child's education. Fight for him because he can't. Feel for him because he can't. And most importantly, never give up.

9 comments:

  1. Sadly, what you did had to be done. I've had more than one child be victimized by bullying. Including staff at a school they used to attend. It took 3 years and several calls to the Superintendant to get better treatment for my aspie son. He started 6th grade this year and it has been the best school year since 1st grade. His symptoms are mild and were too easily seen as something intirely different. He was even pushed to have to fend for himself at school when bullied.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My daughter, who has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, reacts much the same when other kids tease her. I would have done exactly what you did. You tried following the "chain of command". My heart hurts for your son. I hope they use this as a serious teaching moment for this girl and all kids like her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is what I fear when my son gets older. He is just beginning elementary school. Thanks for writing this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Joseph LibuszowskiDecember 3, 2011 at 4:03 AM

    Legally yes you did everything to protect your son and it's a shame that your son was traumatized by the situation and that you had to go to the courts to get action taken. Though, I would say a lot of these issues can work themselves out, I am quite sure if you reflect back on your childhood education, it was vastly different and you where able to deal with situations without having a full time police officer in the HS ect…

    I know a couple colleagues that are much older than your son, that where diagnosed with Asperger's as adults. And the biggest thing they struggle with I have found it, they worry about what other people think about them. There are going to be bullies in school and life, maybe next time you could just call the other parties parents and see about working things out devoid of involving police, attorneys for the school district and the courts.

    Anyway- that’s just my personal opinion on the matter and do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) of my employer, client(s) or company.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't think you over reacted any more than the school FAILED to act. I think your actions have done a great service to the girl, I hope it was an eye opening moment for this young lady, It sounds like she needed it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Joseph Libuszowski Just because there are bullies at school and life does not mean that ANYONE should put up with it, even for a minute. I was told my entire education to ignore these people, that they go away, they DO NOT go away. Parents need to fight back, students need to be taught how to defend themselves.

    Allison D/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I would have done the same - and pray I don't have to find out whn my Aspie hits high school (or even middle school). Unfortunately, fear of "overreacting" has lead to paralysis in parents. No amount of bullying is below notice - a zero-tolerance, bright-line test is a crucial tool in eliminating abusive behavior and, hopefully, in reducing suicide in children.

    Beth
    Mother_Warrior

    ReplyDelete
  8. Chi, when my 12 yr. old son was 6, he became very concerned about bullying in schools. He created a dog tag with these words: "It's wartime I am a soldier in God's army, I've been deployed, battle ready. I would like to send you one- no charge. Please email me if you want it @ glutenfreecouponcorner(dot)hotmail (dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wish I approved of how you handled this, but I did something similar and saw long term consequences for my daughter because of it. When she was in Elementary school, she was being bullied and so I told the teacher. The teacher apparently told the principal, who called the four or so bullying girls into his office. He was very nice and a good principal, but he did tell all of their parents about the situation, and I think some of those parents punished their children. After that my daughter was not bullied anymore, but she was completely shunned. She was never again invited to any parties or social events, other than in our immediate neighborhood. For the rest of her school life. (She is 19 now.)

    Kids have their own hierarchy, and when adults get involved, the long term consequences can be devastating. "Tattletale" kids are never again accepted by their peers. My daughter had enough trouble with her social skills without having to deal with that. In retrospect, I wish I had talked to those girls' parents myself, and invited them all over for a super fun party. Anything to make my daughter have more value in their eyes.I wish I had used it as an opportunity to help her fit in, instead of making sure justice was served. There is no right or wrong answer, but that is my two cents.

    ReplyDelete