I awoke today to what could rightly be called something of a shitstorm on my social media channels. Tweets and Facebook posts were flying thick and fast. The autistic community were in something of an uproar. This was due to the publishing of an article on the Autism Daily Newscast claiming that Autistic children should be grasping somehow onto the perks of bullying.
Yes, you read that right. An autism specific site has published such utter hateful and damaging rubbish. The author of the article is not a Psychologist, Psychiatrist or any one with any particular credentials into the effects of bullying. The author is in fact an ABA practitioner and a Speech and Language therapist of some description.
The article can be found here but the content will be quoted below as I respond to it.
While the negative effects of bullying in school are real and cannot be pushed aside, there are benefits for peers, staff members, parents, and most importantly—your child with autism if everyone seizes the opportunity to act!
The opening paragraph says it all really. Really the author should have stopped at “never pushed aside” No lady, there are no benefits to anyone of bullying, except to the bully that gets away with it, is not stopped and is allowed to continue to ply their evil trade.
The author claims 10 Good opportunities from Bad Bullying. It is my intention to now consider each of these statements.
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. Not unlike other prejudices, this is an opportunity for parents and the school to promote social justice, tolerance, respect, and acceptance. Along with your help, 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.
If you skip over the first part of this it seems admirable, and in a sense it is. However, the key thing here is all of these things should already be a part of the school culture and not something that is done in response to bullying issues. Furthermore, it is not a perk of bullying that these programs may be instituted. Possibly it would be an outcome put in place after bullying, but it is not a perk. This so-called perk is a simple load of rubbish as it all that is promoted here are things that should be in place and constantly reinforced in any school system or in fact any social system in which people engage.
2. Team Work: Working together as a team in partnership with you as the parent, the school’s teaching staff, aides, principal, counselors, and psychologists will provide the safest environment for your child to learn and enjoy.
Again this statement is something that should already be in place in the system. The school should already be working in tandem with you to provide the safest environment for your child to learn in. This is a no-brainer. The author speaks utter tripe.
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.
This one is just purely ridiculous. The presence of bullying is not needed to promote awareness of bullying. Yes we should always be aware of the risk of bullying against all children, all people in fact, not just autistics but everyone. But to say that this is a perk of bullying for autistic children. This is really a WTF moment.
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.
Kids learn skills from being bullied apparently? Well no, they are hurt and traumatised from being bullied. Another patently ridiculous statement. Our children autistic or not should all be assisted in verbal and non verbal language regardless, the presence of bullying is irrelevant to this. To suggest that this is a perk to autistics is abhorrent and offensive.
5. Builds Strength: As your child learns defensive skills from you, his friends, and his teachers, he is growing stronger connections with everyone.
Bullying builds strength apparently. Again, no it doesn’t it builds trauma, victimisation, social, emotional and physical damage. Yes a child learns skills such as these but this again should be done by default, not because of the presence of bullying.
6. More Friendships: 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.
This point is just drivel, it really is. Absolute drivel, I can’t even begin to make any real sense of this at all. To begin with of course autistics do not have social and communication deficits they have differences. This should be seen as an opportunity regardless of the presence of bullying to teach acceptance of diversity and difference to all students as a matter of course.
7. Overall Well-Being: Monitoring potential bullying activity requires the te7.(sic) aching staff to supervise more and create new interventions to ensure the well-being of your child.
A perk of bullying is overall well-being. WTF. I can’t even imagine what in the name of all that is good and right what on earth is being imagined by this crazy statement. Again, bullying does not promote well-being but trauma. Is it that hard to actually comprehend that fact. It seems so. Regardless the appropriate levels of supervision and interventions to ensure the well-being of the children should already be in place.
8. Healthy Relationships: Ways to deal with bullying also help your child deal with sibling rivalry, ‘stranger danger’, or any other personal threat.
Again, no. Patently wrong. Bullying is not stranger danger, it is not sibling rivalry and it is not just a personal threat. These things can be difficult to deal with but they are not bullying.
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Source http://news.bullyingnoway.gov.au/the-facts/Pages/What-is-bullying.aspx
As can be seen bullying is not any of the things claimed by the author in this point. Healthy relationships are not a perk of bullying. They are not easy to come by and should be valued highly and certainly should not be touted as a perk of bullying in such trite and trivial ways.
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.
Essentially here we are at a similar point as we are at the start. Increased life skills should be a standard ongoing part of any well-rounded curriculum. They should not be at the expense of children’s well-being at the hands of bullying. Increased life skills should be taught yes, but a perk of bullying no way. And as for the linking of this to calling for children to be good Samaritans at the hands of bullying. WTF. Utter rubbish, and extremely dangerous.
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.1
Perhaps here is the most utterly ridiculous statement of the lot. Self-Esteem is a perk of bullying. Again WTF. No self-confidence and self-preservation do not come at the hands of bullying. Quite the opposite in fact. I have been struggling to build this in my self all my life after experiencing the pain and trauma of relentless bullying.
With your help, your child can take a negative force and turn it into a positive experience!
No, it is not for the child to deal with the bullying and turn it into a positive force at all. It is for those charged with their care and protection to protect them from it at all costs, and in the event that it does happen to deal with it, to stop it, to intervene and deal with the perpetrator.
No, it is not the victim of the bullying to have the responsibility of learning from it, becoming stronger from it and somehow achieving some crazy ridiculous list of perks from it. No not for one nanosecond it isn’t.
The article that Autism Daily Newscast have published here is nothing more than an exercise in victim blaming and shaming.
I am disgusted, angry and ashamed that a so-called autism information and advocacy site could publish something so anti-autistic, anti-child in general and indeed hateful diatribe against the reality of the experiences of those who have been bullied.
I call on Autism Daily Newscast to withdraw this article, to retract it, to apologise for it and to commit to not publishing this authors work again.