So, I am sure you have heard in the news far too often about kids getting bullied. Some victims take things in their own hands in the form of school shootings and some just suffer in silence. Both ways are horrible. Because shooting up a school doesn’t fix the hurt caused by being abused and self harm or suicide doesn’t solve any problems either. Both of these actions cause extreme pain and suffering on many people. It is awful and hard for most people to understand, but it is an issue that has to be addressed.
I get sad when I hear about someone who is helpless being harmed or being taken advantage of. The elderly, children, animals, homeless or someone who has a disability, they are all groups that are vulnerable and should not be abused. No one should hurt anyone else and the innocent should be protected at all costs. But is protecting people by “leaving them out” or by keeping them separate the answer? I have thought of this for years, because my Goddaughter is considered to be a high functioning autistic person.
When she was younger, there was no way that she could have gone to school with ease. She was not a “bad” kid by any means, but she had a lot of work to do. She needed to be taught how to share and how to control emotions like all kids do, but on a greater level. She just didn’t get social cues or know when to stop or how to react in certain scenarios. It wasn’t as simple as not being nice or being unfriendly, it was that she did not have the basic tools to operate in daily tasks and in a large group, that would be a huge problem.
Now you might think that this is what all kids go through. But most kids understand when their behavior is pushing other people’s buttons and if they do certain things that their friends may be unhappy. Her mom stayed home for 6 years and worked with her. Her mom wanted to be sure she was 100 percent prepared to enter school and that she would fit into a classroom seamlessly. Today this wonderful girl is in high school and no one would ever guess that she had earlier challenges. But she had a mild disability.
It is not feasible for all families to stay home with a child until they are ready. But I think that if a child with disabilities is not properly prepared and is thrust into a classroom, it can be a recipe for disaster. A high functioning person on the spectrum is far different from children who are non-verbal or who have larger issues. If my Goddaughter had been hastily sent to school, she may have not only been misdiagnosed but also given meds she did not need and it could have been even worse.
I have always told my daughter to be nice to people from all backgrounds and walks of life and to treat everyone the same. So when she told about this kid from her school with a problem and explained everything about him, I was pleased she was being kind to him. That means that I taught her well. But she told me soon after that she made a mistake by being nice. I didn’t understand what she meant until she explained he was getting physical with her.
It quickly went from her telling him her name, to the child harassing her at her locker, on the bus and now in her gym and theatre class. He has put his hands on her and pushed her almost to the ground. He is constantly in her face, snapping pics of her with his phone and putting the phone up to her face to aggravate her. He is telling people she is his girlfriend. It’s like he has gone over the edge with his behavior and she has come close several times to physically removing him from her personal space.
She is a sweet girl, and as I have bragged about before, she has a 98 average and really takes school seriously. She doesn’t want to get in trouble by fighting with him, or have people think that she is not nice by putting her hands on him, but she is at the point that she wants him to know that she is serious and really means no. She has now gone to the counselor about him and we got an administrator and teachers involved. My daughter holds in a lot of feelings, so for her to report it to multiple people, it is a huge problem.
I told them that it was really upsetting to her because it was messing with her school experience. I understand their need to protect and care for the special needs child. But my child is not the first to complain. And, he has broken the school policy of taking pics at school, especially of others. They are supposed to take his phone. Even though I complained about it happening, he still has his it. But here can’t be different standards for different groups of people because that causes issues too and resentment.
I feel so badly for the boy. My heart goes out to the parents as well, but there are several girls that he runs up on and puts himself off on. Some cuss him out, some push him, some laugh at him and then there are those like my daughter who doesn’t want to be mean. But it is getting to the point that if the school doesn’t do something, then someone may really injure this child. Especially, if he does this kind of behavior with other boys, they may not be so easy-going. Multiple people are being harassed and nothing has happened.
So while I don’t condone in ANY WAY abuse or getting physical with anyone, and especially those vulnerable populations that I mentioned above, I don’t know if some of the cases we hear about are always a special needs child being picked on. My kiddo says that the kids are fairly nice to him despite the fact that he is such a pain, but I think most people just do not feel comfortable fighting with or hurting him because of morals. But what about the kids that don’t care about his problem and will fight back because he is bothering them. Then is it bullying?
I would hate for this kid to end up on one of the headlines as being beat up or worse because he doesn’t know better. But shouldn’t parents and schools know that there is a risk in integrating children like him into classrooms with students with no disabilities? After all of the stories we hear, aren’t we all to blame for this to go on? Because we can talk to our kids until we are blue in the face, but it only takes one kid who has not been taught tolerance to snap on a little boy like this one.
So what is the answer? Should there be a standard as to what allows someone into a regular classroom, or should everyone who is verbal and mentally able be allowed in? If schools start to segregate those populations too much, then there will be those saying that it is discrimination. But wouldn’t it be wiser to err on the side of caution by not being inclusive or to break out into mini-sessions with a special teacher in order to give those children what they need so that they aren’t disrupting everything?
There is no way easy way to address this or talk about. Just like race relations, it is a touchy subject, but one that cannot be ignored any longer. I would not want this young man to one day to get older and feel like his life isn’t of value because he is misunderstood or for him to be so tired of being ridiculed and not having friends that he doesn’t have the desire to live any longer. What would be just as bad would be him or someone like him taking out vengeance on people due to his frustrations.
Everyone deserves a chance at a happy life and peaceful existence. We are all special and important and should be respected…
Side note: Do any of you have experience with these matters? Or has anyone worked with the special education population? If you have an opinon on this matter, or have been involved in a similar situation or if you have a child that has a disability, I would be interested in hearing your perspective.