By Kodey Toney
What’s My Age Again
I saw a video on Facebook this weekend that made me really think. There was a girl who was flipping through a notebook explaining that her brother, who was diagnosed with autism, had been bullied and made fun of a lot lately. This ridicule was to the point that it actually pushed him to think thoughts of suicide and unworthiness. The kicker is that this child was only 10 years old. The other problem was that it wasn’t just his peers who were making fun of him and calling him names. According to his sibling, he had adults, yes grown people, telling him some awful things.
Social problems are one of the major issues involved with autism. We understand that the children on the spectrum have problems talking with and socializing with others. This stems from communication problems. If a person has a problem with getting their thoughts across and vocalizing those thoughts then they are less likely to want to converse with others. This is amplified if every time you talk someone makes fun of you; especially adults.
There’s another quote that I saw that I thought was pretty strong. It said, “I’m not anti-social, I’m pro-solitude.” Sometimes this is true in most people, but I think that the “loner” label is inaccurate. What we’ve learned is that children with autism are not anti-social. They’re also not anti-social. They just need some help and coaching to allow them to be more comfortable with communicating with others.
People on the spectrum want to have friends. They want to talk to others, and they obviously want to be accepted by their peers. If they were loners and didn’t care then this young kid wouldn’t have problems with someone talking about him. He wouldn’t be contemplating leaving this life.
We have to look at ways to make everyone feel accepted. When I say everyone I don’t just mean those with disabilities, but this is a great place to start.
This is why I think we need more peer-mentoring programs. We have to allow these children to learn from others who are patient and understanding. It will allow those children to connect with children who have disabilities and understand their problems. It’s a win-win situation.
We obviously need to get the adults involved as well. Some of the best mentors in a child’s life are their teachers. This is why a teacher should step in and try to make a difference. If they have one person to make them feel like they can do well in life they are more likely to succeed.
Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column. You can also find all columns archived at blogspot.com.