The Rampant Bullying of Autistic People
**Trigger Warning** – Bullying and Suicide
I was suicidal at age 10. My life was so horrifying, I would actually beg God to take me.
I was bullied at school and abused at home, and life was one big mess of confusion. One of these days, I may get into the abuse part of it, but today, I want to talk about bullying.
Bullying is an insidious, horrible, disgusting, and venomous disease that’s been spreading like wildfire for I don’t know how many millions of years…maybe since the dawn of mankind?
There are plenty of articles and videos spreading awareness about bullying, which is fine, but they don’t address the core issues behind it, and they leave a HUGE piece out of the conversation.
Autistic people are bullied at an absolutely alarming rate. Far more than neurotypical people (although it certainly happens to them).
What’s even more frightening is the WAY autistic people are bullied. It’s more of a hate crime than garden variety playground stuff.
Autistic children and adults are absolutely brutalized!
For example, a neurotypical kid may be shoved around and called names at school, but an autistic child will get drop-kicked down 3 flights of stairs.
A neurotypical adult may be avoided and shunned, but an autistic adult may be beaten half to death in an alley.
What I’m saying is, this type of violence is akin to what Black people, Middle Eastern people, and transgender (just to name a few) go through, and it’s not because the person hurting them doesn’t like their glasses or their braces…they HATE THEM for daring to exist!
When I say an entire school hated me when I was a child, I am not exaggerating. People either hated me, didn’t know me, or were indifferent.
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The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.
Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).
Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:
Walking home from school was terrifying. I stayed after at the library playing Oregon Trail for hours after all the other kids left because I knew it was the only way I’d be safe.– Jaime A. Heidel
I often took a taxi home. Me? Worried about creepy cab drivers? I was glad to take my chances with them than be out in the open and exposed for 45 minutes each day after school.
I was once literally stoned by two bigger girls throwing rocks at me. Huge ones. When they got close enough, they spit in my face and threw sand in my mouth.
That’s only one of many things that happened throughout the course of my childhood.
Oh, and teachers sneered and jeered me, too.
Bullying does such incredible emotional damage to anyone who experiences it, and autistic people are already struggling mightily just to get through the day as it is.
All the “awareness” videos in the world aren’t going to do anything to change what’s happening. The only thing, in my opinion, that could help is something like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and emotion regulation for ALL children at every single school.
That and teaching about neurodiversity and how it presents and how children of different neurotypes can learn to interact and understand one another.
The sad truth is, it’s already been proven in studies that many neurotypical people, by and large, are automatically, without being told, suspicious, wary, afraid of, and even angry toward autistic people even if the person hasn’t spoken one word, even if they’ve only seen a photo!
This is that lizard brain at work that creates the pack mentality that screams, “kill, kill, kill”, and we have GOT to find a way to deal with that root cause of bullying and abuse RIGHT THERE if we can ever have a hope of reducing the violence against those of us who are deemed “different”.
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