Friday, November 13, 2009
It is the personal stories, not just the statistics, that make “Targeted, Taunted, Tormented,” a new report on the bullying of autistic children, so compelling.
Parents opened up and told their stories to the Massachusetts Advocates for Children, including:
“A child threatened to stab my son with a knife and the school never even called that child’s parents,” said the parent of a 14-year-old autistic child. “I ended up calling them. The school did nothing.”
One 15-year-old has been “ ‘knuckled’ black and blue in his upper arms” and “stabbed repeatedly with a pencil” - over several years.
A 5-year-old was “pushed, elbowed, name called” during a hellish first four weeks of kindergarten, which the school explained as, “All the children were adjusting to being in school.”
Another child kept asking his parents why, even though hitting is wrong, “the other student had the ‘right’ to hit him.”
One autistic child was forced to stand in mud puddles by a bully. Aides and playground monitors, the child’s parent said, repeatedly blamed him for the bullying and told him to “go work it out.”
Parents also detailed the psychological cost of persistent bullying.
A parent of an 8-year-old boy said, “My son was physically assaulted by a group of kids who held him down and repeatedly hit him, refusing to let him run away . . . These kids were only in second grade and they were vicious.”
“His self-esteem, which was once very high, is demolished; he has gone from a happy boy to a sad and angry boy,” the parent of a 9-year-old said.
One 14-year-old “became increasingly paranoid and became agitated to the point of hospitalization.”
In some cases, autistic children considered suicide. A 17-year-old was bullied so badly from first grade that by the age of 10 the child “wanted to die.”
The nonprofit Massachusetts Advocates for Children represents children on fronts including education reform, legislative initiatives and legal assistance.