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bullyingNothing was more heartbreaking than reading this news title as it crossed our editorial desks – Special-needs boy, 10, doused with gas, set on fire in Texas town. This naive 10 year old boy was lured by his peers aged 9 – 11 years old and set on fire. The child and the family is enduring a nightmare as young Kayden slowly recovers in the hospital – one skin graft after another. You can explore the updates and lend support on the family’s YouCaring page.  If reading this does not inspire you to do something to raise awareness and snuff out bullying – well, tell us what we need to do.

Only six years ago, Annette Becklund, MSW, LCSW of Annette L Becklund, MSW, LCSW & Associates LLC, wrote here at Special-Ism, “If you were one of the many who watched the 20/20 episode “Bullied to Death in America’s Schools”, you heard from the family of Tyler Long, a 17 year-old teen with Asperger’s.  Tyler was so badly bullied at school that he became depressed and hung himself. To add insult to injury, the kids in Tyler’s school wore nooses around their necks to further commemorate and make fun of the young man who no longer walks the face of the earth. The school, it was reported, turned a blind eye.”

Tyler and Kayden are just two names in a sea of children who are so badly bullied day in and day out.

Becklund shares, “I have found that 99% of the kids that I have worked with in my practice have been the targets of bullying in one form or another. This has lead to depression, high levels of anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and hospital admissions.”

Institutional Bullying

Becklund raises concern that bullying is not limited to peer on peer situations.  Becklund talked about institutional bullying. She asked,

“Ever have a teacher overturn your desk because it was disorganized?”

“How about not excuse your child to the restroom only to find that minutes later the child was being sent to the office because of an accident?”

“Once at a child study team meeting, a young man on the spectrum cried when he found out he was having the same teacher for four more years.  I suggested additional teacher training.  The official retorted, “She has 20 year of experience!””

“How about the guidance counselor who asks the mother of the bullying victim, “did your daughter provoke this in any way?” The solution: “We’ll remove your child from the class (because of a bully)” rather than removing and punishing the bully.”

“Have you ever received an email where the subject line reads “bullied”?  One administrator received an email such as this only to ignore it.”

Family Bullying

As a therapist, Becklund has unfortunately seen and heard many a sad tale about bullying.  Becklund reports that bullying also occurs within families.  She shares the following:

“High functioning! High functioning!” I heard a parent yell at her child with Autism in order to supposedly tame behavior.

“You’re a fairy la la” said a mother to a child who incidentally grew up to be gay.

“You will have ice made by 3:30pm every day so it is ready when I come home from work.”

“How many times do I have to tell you how to stack the dishwasher?”

“I’m not criticizing, I am trying to make you a better person.”

“Freak!” “Geek!” “Nerd!” “Stupid!” and one of the worst for spectrumites, “Retard!”

Becklund has heard and seen it all coming from her clients, the parents of clients and within schools.  The stories of Kayden and Tyler drive home the need to awareness and change.

Anti-Bullying Awareness Month

It’s Bullying Awareness Month.  We, as a society, need to band together to snuff out all forms of bullying.  We invite you to peruse the insights below of various authors at Special-Ism on the topic of bullying.  Please give these articles a share on social media and let’s put an end to bullying!  We welcome your comments, insights and discussion on our Facebook Page.

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An "Ism" is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.