MY Ten Things I Learned From Bullying, as an Autistic:

OK, let me talk about “10 Perks Kids With Autism Get From Bullying,” the article from Autism Daily Newscast that has autistics up in arms. For starters, I ran the title by my mother, who said it was “foolish.” Her word, not mine. Let me say for now that it is like saying “10 Benefits African Americans Get From Racism.,” an article not written (yet) that would cause an extreme outrage and protest all its own. You can google the shameful, ableist article that justifies ostracizing kids through physical and mental violence, which is the textbook definition of bullying.

What I Learned From Bullying:

1) Avoid anyone my age. No one relates to me. 

To this day, I do not have any close friends who were born between 1974 and 1983. (I was born in 1977, in case you were wondering.) All my classmates live far away, and I can only contact them through Facebook.

2) Authority does not look out for you; in fact it eggs bullying on

Everybody knows sensitivity training and anti-bullying programs are simply legal and societal alibis, used to shield any responsibility for the eventual school shooting that comes from the eventual loneliness and isolation that bullying creates. Also, when I went to school and church authorities about the bullying I was enduring through the social circles of the time, I was told “Ignore them,” and “Maybe he likes you.” How do you ignore something which gets into your face and threatens physical harm? I hate to say it even now, but one of my youth counselors would join in on the jokes to win the bullies over.

3) Autism Hatred Every Month 

For example: much of the bullying was due to me liking New Kids on the Block. I got most of this in seventh grade. I was so bullied, I ended up feeling this was a horrid secret I was supposed to keep away from the general public, as if liking NKOTB was on par with pedophilia (wanting to sex up kids). I eventually learned Autism = Pedophilia as well, so I kept that a secret until my senior year.

4) My skills I developed were subterfuge, lying, and reclusion.

TRUth and TRUst begin with the same three letters. I learned I could trust no one. The only things I learned were to fight dirty, lie, sabotage, and hide. I was a filthy animal as far as anyone else was concerned.

 5) Built an Abuse-Accepting Pattern of Being Controlled

This eventually led me to believe that abusive behavior was okay. I did not expect any better from people, because I did not know any better. Another maxim I have to still shake off: People are basically evil, and must be controlled by another force. I mean, I expect the worst in people now. Maybe that’s why I am pushing 40 and still single. This leads to:

6) No Friendships, and Extreme Suspicion of Good People

Again, I have nobody my age I can relate to, except on Facebook. In my first post, Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare, I have expanded on my confusion as to people wanting to even be my Facebook friend. I mean, bullying is a way to ostracize the undesirables out of society. You make fun of the people you hate. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. These people made fun of me to my face and behind my back, and the only thing which made me even want to consider clicking on that Accept button was an apology from one of them.

7) A Decline in Overall Well-Being

With all this swirling around in my head, I was cut off from any help, unless it came through therapy. I hated myself for years, and am only now getting to like myself again, though it still only comes in spurts. Only in the past nine years have I showered regularly without being forced to, for instance. I was not worth it, I thought.

8) Abusive Relationships, because I was a Freak

I’m not going to name names, but I was abused for years because I thought deep down I deserved it. I was an undesirable freak who was lucky that person was in my life to protect the world from me. (That was what the abuser said to me, in so many words.)

9) Decreased Life Skills and Life Appreciation

Why would I take care of myself? How could I love my neighbor if I did not love myself? Was I even worth getting out of bed, and even worth living?
10) No Self-Esteem, and Suicide Ideation

Eventually, this led to not having any appreciation for anything life had to offer, and a general hatred of life. I began to imagine what it would be like if I was dead, and I wrongly concluded that it would be better without me. I also began to formulate a plan: I would find a room or toilet with a drain, and slit my wrists. The blood would be disposed of.

WHAT EVENTUALLY SAVED ME

I learned that the world would be a worse place for my mother, and a few others, if I died. I could not go through with it, once I learned that my mother would be screwed. She should not be responsible for keeping me alive, but God keeps reminding me that if I die, several other people would be screwed, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I eventually also learned that bullying is wrong, and I would be letting the terrorists in my life win if I removed myself from living. I could not let that happen. I have had to tell myself daily that I am worth the fight.

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7 thoughts on “MY Ten Things I Learned From Bullying, as an Autistic:”

  1. I’m sorry you’ve had to learn these painful lessons 😦 I can only assume there is a special place reserved for bullies in the afterlife. I’m glad you learned to move on from it though 🙂

  2. The “Autism Daily News” people have LIGHTLY re-edited the article (changing “perks” to “strategies” and a very few other words) _and_ they have closed comments there, removing several people’s comments (mine among them) It’s still at the same URL …,and, of course, the ten things they are calling “strategies” now are even less “strategies” than they were “perks”!

    So go there, read the article, then (if you agree that it’s even worse than it was!) DIRECTLY reach the author and editor (the author is VERY easily Googled, and the editor/owner gets messages via Facebook Messages at Autism Daily News’ Facebook page.

    Below is my response, in full, to the (unacceptably) rewritten article, which I have sent to the persons concerned. Feel free to use it to,spur your own ideas, if it helps.

    The article’s vaunted change of title is a “Band-Aid” superficiality: plastering over the tiniest fraction of the surface of the wound you caused (which your article continues to inflict).
    
    Changing the title, adding a word here, shading and a phrase there — without _fundamental_ change in the underlying presuppositions and attitudes — reveals itself clearly in thexslightly revised piece’s ineffectiv attempt to purvey ten alleged “bullying perks” as now, oh-so-nicely, “strategies.”
    
    Let’s look, point by point, at what you are now dubbing “strategies.”
    
    SISTO: “1. Promoting Autism-Friendly Programs: Bullying in schools can sometimes be the result of prejudice against the unexpected ways that children with autism speak and socialize.”

    ———– RESPONSE: To say that bullying is “sometimes” the result of prejudice is false. There is NO act of bullying that does not stem from someone’s prejudice. Prejudice instigates EVERY act of bullying — or (to call things by clear names) every act of torture, harassment, and assault.
    (Torture, harassment, and assault are the words that the English language uses when these things are done to someone we care about. When they’re done to someone we don’t care as much about, such as someone else’s child, the same things get called “bullying” instead.)
     Calling prejudice only “sometimes” a cause of bullying is not only false, but dangerously false — because, when you only _sometimes_ identify the roots of any evil, that evil will remain and spread. (Imagine where we’d be today, if we still thought that scurvy was only “sometimes” caused by lack of vitamin C!)
    

    SISTO: “Not unlike other prejudices, this is an opportunity for parents and the school to promote social justice, tolerance, respect, and acceptance.”
    
    ———- RESPONSE: Promoting justice, respect, and so on, definitely matters. But justice, and all the rest of it, should have mattered _before_ the torture and assault. Treating these important and non-negotiable values as mere “strategies” to be hastily patched in after the fact … that is like watching me break my arms, then telling me that health and restored function are “strategies” which you will now use to promote a campaign to build a hospital. (And why does anyone call justice “_social_ justice”? — it is as if someone imagined that simply being just, simply being fair, couldn’t possibly be worthwhile unless it was “social” too. )
    
    
    SISTO:
    “Along with your help,”

    ——— RESPONSE: Who is the “your” here? Whom do you consider your audience? Us autistics? Our parents? If you meant to write the parents should be helping here, why not be clear about whom you’re talking to? Why not write “Along with the help of parents”?
    The context, evident throughout the rest of this piece, does of course make plain an unstated presupposition that “you” = “parent.” I’ll return to this a bit further down, at the point where you begin to make inescapably plain that you wrote as if you assumed an autism-interested audience to be parents and _only_ parents. It is just as if you and your editor had forgotten, or had never learned, that a VERY large percentage of the people reading anything with “autism” in the title are — surprise! — us autistics (Many of us are NOT parents, and are more than a little sick of the presupposition that “a person reading about autism = a parent = probably a person without autism. “)

    SISTO:
    “schools should focus not only on integration within the mainstream for education but also guidance of how to better connect socially to their peers with autism – possibly through workshops or specially-structured activities.”
    
    ———- RESPONSE: That isn’t strategy: it’s a goal (which could, presumably, be reached _by_ strategies which you aren’t, here, spelling out). Calling it a “strategy” is like a speech pathologist telling a patient who stutters that “your treatment strategy should be to not stutter.”
    
    
    SISTO:
    ”2. Team Work: Working together as a team in partnership with you as the parent,”
    
    ——– RESPONSE: Why, again, equate “you” (each reader) necessarily with “parent”? Why not write “in partnership with _the_ _parent(s)_,” instead of presuming that everyone in your audience can be described as “the parent”? Writing “in partnership with parents” would have conveyed your meaning WITHOUT the exclusionism of using a “you” that immediately specifies it doesn’t REALLY mean _everyone_ present.
    

    SISTO:
    “the school’s teaching staff, aides, principal, counselors, and psychologists will provide the safest environment for your child to learn and enjoy.”
    
    ——– RESPONSE: Again, do you or your editor Imagine that “Autism Daily News” is only for parents? Why assume that “your child” makes sense about every reader? Why not “provide the safest environment for _each_ _child_ to learn and enjoy”? (This would include each child — and each parent — without leaving so many of your other readers feeling, once again, as though “Autism Daily News” had a sign on the door reading: “Parents Welcome — People With Autism: We don’t mean YOU.”)
    
    
    SISTO:
    ”3. Autism Awareness Every Month: Not just during October’s National Bullying Prevention Month but always, more awareness of the bullying of kids with autism means more awareness of autism overall.”
    
    ——— RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy — in fact, it isn’t even a sentence. It’s relabeling a hoped-for goal as a strategy (“Treatment for stuttering: Don’t stutter”) because you had to give up calling it a “perk”
    
    
    SISTO:
    “4. Kids Learn Skills: Teaching your child how to deal with bullies increases her verbal communication with words, nonverbal communication like body language and facial expressions, survival skills, civil liberties, and independence.”
    ———- RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy. It’s a vaguely worded curriculum item (“Teaching your child how to deal with bullies” tells _what_ to accomplish, not _how_), followed by some hoped-for outcomes (one of which is poorly expressed: “verbal communication with words” is pleonastic, like “female adults who are women.”)

    

    SISTO:

    “5. Builds Strength: As your child learns defensive skills from you, his friends, and his teachers, he is growing stronger connections with everyone.”

    ———-RESPONSE: “Builds strength” (with what follows) is, again, not a strategy, but an expected outcome. Further, “stronger connections with everyone” are not always even _desirable_ outcomes. “Everyone” after all,,includes the child’s tormentors. It is immoral to expect — let alone to teach — the victim of tortures to grow stronger connections” with his or her torturers. (Further, it is psychologically destructive. Google “Stockholm Syndrome.”)

    

    SISTO:

    “6. More Friendships:”

    ———- RESPONSE: “More friendships” is not a strategy.

    SISTO:

    “Discussing the communication and social deficits experienced by kids with autism puts greater social responsibility on their peers who don’t have autism. When it comes to a child with autism, being a proactive observer can make all the difference to prevent bullying and protect them. As a result, your child will spend more time with good friends, make new friends, and possibly will want to get involved in different activities with them.”

    ———- RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy; it’s what you _wish_ would happen. “Discussing the communication and social deficits” does not mean that the people with whom they are discussed will _do_ anything about the “greater social responsibility” they now supposedly have. It does NOT mean, for instance, that the target of torture will now get better friends. Too often, all that “discussing the communication and social deficits” actually _does_ is to give a a child’s actual or potential tormentors a better idea of just how and where to take advantage of these and damage the child further.

    SISTO:

    “7. Overall Well-Being:”
    ———- RESPONSE: That isn’t a strategy, It’s a wished-for outcome.

    

    SISTO:
    “Monitoring potential bullying activity”

    ——— RESPONSE: This, at last, is a strategy … or might be. ONE strategy, 3/4 of the way down a list of ten, is a very poor intellectual or practical return for an article that claimed to deliver strategies.
    

    SISTO:

    “requires the te7. aching staff”

    ——– RESPONSE: Hmmmm, “requires the …” _what_, exactly?! That glaring typo (“teaching” misspelled to include a numeral, a space, and a punctuation mark) appeared also in the earlier (“perks”) version of your article. Anyone can make an error: but preserving the error, in two successive versions of the document, provides clear evidence that it was carelessly edited both times — if it had been carefully edited for its revision (as the circumstances demanded), an error of this size would have almost certainly have been caught before the article appeared in its (barely altered) new form. (Especially disturbing is the fact that the particular error made — involving, as it does, a space added within the word — causes the five letters of the intended word “teaching” to appear as the separate word “aching.” Of all the words which might be created — and retained — through careless editing, the word “aching” is particularly unfortunate in an article on the subject at hand.)

    

    SISTO:

    “to supervise more and create new interventions to ensure the well-being of your child.”

    ———— RESPONSE: This (which of course should be done _before_, rather than after, any child ends up tortured) is not a strategy. (If a professional exam in any professional field were to ask for a list of strategies for attaining some curricular or practical goal, how many of the strategies in this article’s list of ten would be evaluated as being concretely and specifically measurable enough to rate as strategies and to monitor in action?)

    

    SISTO:

    ”8. Healthy Relationships: Ways to deal with bullying also help your child deal with sibling rivalry, ‘stranger danger’, or any other personal threat.”

    ———– RESPONSE: “Healthy relationships” is not a strategy. To state that “ways to deal with bullying” exist and have advantages — without detailing what those “ways” are — is, again, to call a non-strategy a strategy.

    

    SISTO:

    “9. Increased Life Skills: With your child’s increased communication, survival skills, and independence, she will become more aware of the people around her. This makes your child a conscientious citizen and a good Samaritan towards other people who may be in need overall, not just due to bullying.”
    ———— RESPONSE: Again, you are using the label “strategy” to (mis)name a goal — or, more precisely, a wish. It is as if a nutrition article on”ten strategies for losing weight” told readers to follow a “strategy” which was: “With losing weight, you will be healthy and you will start helping others to lose weight.”

    

    SISTO:

    ”10. Self-Esteem: Ironically, and in spite of the bully’s goal to do the opposite, your child will grow self-confidence and self-preservation esteem.”

    ———– RESPONSE: Again: this is not a strategy. Further: “self-preservation esteem” is not good English, but is (once more) most likely to be sloppy editing.

    

    CONCLUSION:

    The “Band-Aid” quick-fix quality of the revision suggests a rush job — as if the writer, and/or the editor, thought that changing the title and a couple of surface details would prevent people from noticing that the piece remains substantially unchanged. In particular, as shown above the decision to reclassify alleged “perks” as “strategies” makes the content and structure of the work even more difficult to take seriously and to apply as real-world advice. The problems throughout the revision (notably including the weaknesses of structure and content which were created by misusing or misunderstanding the concept of “strategy”) do not speak well for the writing, editing, or other expertise involved. (I cannot speculate on whether the problems were allowed to pass into print because of sheer haste — people scrambling to fix a misguided article, and hoping that a surface retouching would pass muster — or because someone assumed that not everyone in the audience would bother to read very carefully after having discerned problems with a previous version of the work — or because of some other reason. Whatever the cause, though, the [slightly] revised article remains conspicuously inappropriate, in more than one regard, for “Autism Daily News” or any publication which strives to be helpful, fair, and respectful of its readers and of their experiences and concerns.)

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