“Catelyn stop it! Come here!”
Catelyn stands down, turns her head and walks over.
“Why did you push that boy?”
“He pushed me first.”
“I thought I saw that. But why? What happened?”
“Declan saw we were playing, came running over and wanted to play. He wanted to make up his own character.”
“Well, Declan said he wanted to be a good guy and that boy told him “NO!” He kept screaming at Declan. I told the boy to stop screaming at Declan.
Then, I asked that boy to come talk to me. I told him that my brother has autism and has a hard time understanding. I asked him if Declan could still play with us, but play his own way.
The boy told me “You can’t tell me what to do” and he pushed me.
So, I pushed him back.”
I don’t support violence.
But I really hate bullying.
I have spoken before about bullying in my post “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” found here.
Both Catelyn and Declan have been bullied in the past. Declan did not understand what was happening or being said, although I did.
Catelyn did understand what was being said about her. She was not able to find the words to describe what was happening to her or how she felt. She became depressed, withdrawn and hated going to school.
Eventually Cate came home crying and could repeat the events of the single event that led to the tears. Two girls had kicked her out of her assigned bus seat. Exasperated and frustrated Catelyn started crying. These girls knew they were sitting in Cate’s assigned seat and did nothing to stop Catelyn’s tears. Instead they sat there and watched her cry.
Once we identified the problem, we sought out help. The girls were identified and stopped being open about their bullying behavior, but subtle and hurtful remarks and behaviors still got through. It was time to arm Catelyn.
Catelyn got involved in therapy. Her self-confidence grew. She started smiling again. I see in her work how she identified the bullies and worked to redirect her attention. She learned many new ways to help herself in many situations.
And I learned that she was able to help others.
The internet has many sites describing how to stand up to bullies for yourself and on behalf of others. Wiki How even describes here:
How to stand up to a Bully:
- Look them in the eye and tell them to stop
- Learn how bullies think (showing that it bothers you may give them ammunition and make their attacks worse)
- Stand tall and stare them down
- Close your ears
- Defend yourself with smarts (Don’t get sucked in, bullies will always win)
- Ignore bullies online
- Learn to throw a punch
According to girlshealth.gov, here is what you do:
If you see someone else getting bullied
- Don’t stand and watch- bullies love an audience. Leave and get help
- Stop any rumors
- Stand up for the person being bullied
- Tell an adult
- Encourage bullied person to talk to an adult
I was proud of Cate for standing up to a bully. She did not have any second thoughts. She stood tall, she used her words and asked for understanding. When her requests were met with being pushed, she did not cower and allow herself to be pushed around, or worse, hit – she stood tall and defended herself.
Not only did she have enough courage to stand up to a bully – she did this all on behalf of someone else. Someone who couldn’t defend themselves.
I have read a lot of different articles about children with autism being bullied. According to TIME, children with autism are 5 times more likely for being bullied than their typically developing peers. Autism differences may stand out. And if you are a blue duck in a pond full of purple ducks, the purple ducks will notice and point it out.
It is important to me to teach my kids to love and celebrate their differences. They are truly awesome individuals, full of truly awesome attributes.
Being different is okay – more than okay – it is great. And if someone tells them differently, that’s an opinion. If someone tries to belittle their differences, I want them to know how to stand up for themselves and to continue to love themselves.