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.