I remember being bullied. It was in 4th grade and it was beyond horrific. But, I made it. So, why am I so afraid for my kids? Because I was lucky enough to be able to “re-invent” myself each time we moved, which was all the time. I was a Navy-Brat. Every time we moved, it gave me another chance to become stronger and more confident. My mom gave me that strategy. (Secret: I LOVED MOVING)
Ok, so we should move, right? I wish. My son on the autism spectrum can’t handle change. The first and only time we moved, we lost him for 6-8 months. You know the kid that zones and babbles? The one you can’t reach? That was my kid – because we moved. We got him back with lots of therapy.
So, back to bullying.
My youngest was bullied in first grade. FIRST.GRADE.
BUT, thankfully his school really stepped up. We changed his IEP to include a one-on-one 90% of the day (for protection and social skills training), social skills with the school counselor twice a week, and the kids that targeted him have not been in his class since. He is in third grade now. He still needs all of those accommodations, but he is getting better.
And because I research, research, research, I read Asperger Syndrome and Bullying: Strategies and Solutions. Talk about being scared. That book will throw you into the reality of autism and bullying lickety-split. The thing is, kids on the autism spectrum are targeted more often than neurotypical kids. And, it seems that the bullying doesn’t just happen once or twice, for some it lasts their whole school career.
Unless, we teach them strategies. That’s my goal.
So, guess what they got signed up for today? Karate and Social Skills.
To boot, we got to go to a local event this morning called “Self Defense/Beginner Karate techniques.” My oldest did incredibly well. He was focused and determined. It made my heart swell. My youngest, on the other hand, was a little unfocused, to put it mildly. That’s okay, we will review the techniques with him, share it with the school counselor, and hope that he uses them in school. The Asperger’s group is planning on doing another one for the Autism community. I’ll post it in Spectrum Parents in Virginia Beach as soon as I know the date.
Too boot, both our kids are starting the infamous Social Butterflies Club next week. We have heard rave reviews from tons of people so we are hoping this will be the ticket. Between Karate, Social Butterflies, and the Lego Club they will have tons of social opportunities and hopefully build new friendships.
FYI: A recent study found that a total of 63% of 1,167 children with ASD, ages 6 to 15, had been bullied at some point in their lives.