Feminist Aspie

10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious…)

on October 15, 2015

Autism Daily Newscast has published an article by an ABA practitioner entitled “Ten Perks Kids With Autism Get From Bullying”. Yep, really. That’s a thing that now exists. (I won’t link, but I like Wandering Autistic’s “honest version” if you want a quick summary…) So, in the interests of balance, and because it apparently isn’t obvious, here are just some of the negative effects bullying has on autistic children:

  1. The physical and emotional abuse. Honestly, the list could just end here. No ~important skill~ or ~valuable life lesson~ is worth that. Ever.
  2. You learn, very quickly, not to trust anyone. If you are your honest self, they might turn against you. If they seem friendly, they might be using you or laughing at you behind your back.
  3. You get the impression that everyone hates you and/or thinks you’re whatever the bullies call you, it becomes so ingrained that those thoughts begin automatically wherever you are and whoever you’re with. In other words, the foundations of an anxiety disorder.
  4. The realisation that the adults who are supposed to help you just agree with the bullies, even if they use more technically-polite words to express it. Everyone seems to be taking the same victim-blaming stance – if you could just “act normal” you wouldn’t get bullied, and because you won’t or can’t, you must deserve it.
  5. Low self-esteem – because if everyone constantly tells you that your way of being is wrong, you start to believe it, and you start to believe that it’s your fault for being who you are.
  6. All of the above is likely to be detrimental to engaging in social activity and making friends in the future.
  7. The fact that we have to justify not being abused by saying it’s detrimental to social skills, because our social skills (often used just as shorthand for “passing for neurotypical”) are seen as more important than our humanity.
  8. Other people deciding that everything’s fine because they can use your pain for their ~inspiration~ or ~teamwork~ or ~awareness~.
  9. The frustration of adults telling you “we can’t stop bullies” when they’re not even trying; treating bullying as if it were a natural disaster they are powerless to stop, when in fact it’s a product of a society they created. Where do you think bullies learn their prejudices from?
  10. Knowing that the bullying of people like you never totally goes away even in the adult world. We just stop calling it bullying and refer to it as what it is – ableism.

19 responses to “10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious…)

  1. […] Source: 10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious…) […]

  2. […] Ten Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently, it isn’t obvious…)… […]

  3. […] Similarly, Feminist Aspie reminds us of the 10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious…) […]

  4. […] on October 15th, 2015 – FeministAspie replies with a reaction piece titled “10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying” Feminist […]

  5. The “Autism Daily News” people have LIGHTLY re-edited the article (changing “perks” to “strategies” and a very few other words) and have closed the comments, removing several people’s comments (mine among them) It’s still at the same URL …,and, of course, the ten things they are calling “strategies” now are even less “strategies” than they were “perks”!

    So go there, read the article, then (if you agree that it’s even worse than it was!) DIRECTLY reach the author and editor (the author is VERY easily Googled, and the editor/owner gets messages via Facebook Messages at Autism Daily News’ Facebook page.

    Below is my response, in full, to the (unacceptably) rewritten article, which I have sent to the persons concerned. Feel free to use it to,spur your own ideas, if it helps.

    The article’s vaunted change of title is a “Band-Aid” superficiality: plastering over the tiniest fraction of the surface of the wound you caused (which your article continues to inflict).
    Changing the title, adding a word here, shading and a phrase there — without _fundamental_ change in the underlying presuppositions and attitudes — reveals itself clearly in thexslightly revised piece’s ineffectiv attempt to purvey ten alleged “bullying perks” as now, oh-so-nicely, “strategies.”
    Let’s look, point by point, at what you are now dubbing “strategies.”
    SISTO: “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.”

    ———– RESPONSE: To say that bullying is “sometimes” the result of prejudice is false. There is NO act of bullying that does not stem from someone’s prejudice. Prejudice instigates EVERY act of bullying — or (to call things by clear names) every act of torture, harassment, and assault.
    (Torture, harassment, and assault are the words that the English language uses when these things are done to someone we care about. When they’re done to someone we don’t care as much about, such as someone else’s child, the same things get called “bullying” instead.)
     Calling prejudice only “sometimes” a cause of bullying is not only false, but dangerously false — because, when you only _sometimes_ identify the roots of any evil, that evil will remain and spread. (Imagine where we’d be today, if we still thought that scurvy was only “sometimes” caused by lack of vitamin C!)

    SISTO: “Not unlike other prejudices, this is an opportunity for parents and the school to promote social justice, tolerance, respect, and acceptance.”
    ———- RESPONSE: Promoting justice, respect, and so on, definitely matters. But justice, and all the rest of it, should have mattered _before_ the torture and assault. Treating these important and non-negotiable values as mere “strategies” to be hastily patched in after the fact … that is like watching me break my arms, then telling me that health and restored function are “strategies” which you will now use to promote a campaign to build a hospital. (And why does anyone call justice “_social_ justice”? — it is as if someone imagined that simply being just, simply being fair, couldn’t possibly be worthwhile unless it was “social” too. )
    “Along with your help,”

    ——— RESPONSE: Who is the “your” here? Whom do you consider your audience? Us autistics? Our parents? If you meant to write the parents should be helping here, why not be clear about whom you’re talking to? Why not write “Along with the help of parents”?
    The context, evident throughout the rest of this piece, does of course make plain an unstated presupposition that “you” = “parent.” I’ll return to this a bit further down, at the point where you begin to make inescapably plain that you wrote as if you assumed an autism-interested audience to be parents and _only_ parents. It is just as if you and your editor had forgotten, or had never learned, that a VERY large percentage of the people reading anything with “autism” in the title are — surprise! — us autistics (Many of us are NOT parents, and are more than a little sick of the presupposition that “a person reading about autism = a parent = probably a person without autism. “)

    “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.”
    ———- RESPONSE: That isn’t strategy: it’s a goal (which could, presumably, be reached _by_ strategies which you aren’t, here, spelling out). Calling it a “strategy” is like a speech pathologist telling a patient who stutters that “your treatment strategy should be to not stutter.”
    ”2. Team Work: Working together as a team in partnership with you as the parent,”
    ——– RESPONSE: Why, again, equate “you” (each reader) necessarily with “parent”? Why not write “in partnership with _the_ _parent(s)_,” instead of presuming that everyone in your audience can be described as “the parent”? Writing “in partnership with parents” would have conveyed your meaning WITHOUT the exclusionism of using a “you” that immediately specifies it doesn’t REALLY mean _everyone_ present.

    “the school’s teaching staff, aides, principal, counselors, and psychologists will provide the safest environment for your child to learn and enjoy.”
    ——– RESPONSE: Again, do you or your editor Imagine that “Autism Daily News” is only for parents? Why assume that “your child” makes sense about every reader? Why not “provide the safest environment for _each_ _child_ to learn and enjoy”? (This would include each child — and each parent — without leaving so many of your other readers feeling, once again, as though “Autism Daily News” had a sign on the door reading: “Parents Welcome — People With Autism: We don’t mean YOU.”)
    ”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.”
    ——— RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy — in fact, it isn’t even a sentence. It’s relabeling a hoped-for goal as a strategy (“Treatment for stuttering: Don’t stutter”) because you had to give up calling it a “perk”
    “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.”
    ———- RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy. It’s a vaguely worded curriculum item (“Teaching your child how to deal with bullies” tells _what_ to accomplish, not _how_), followed by some hoped-for outcomes (one of which is poorly expressed: “verbal communication with words” is pleonastic, like “female adults who are women.”)



    “5. Builds Strength: As your child learns defensive skills from you, his friends, and his teachers, he is growing stronger connections with everyone.”

    ———-RESPONSE: “Builds strength” (with what follows) is, again, not a strategy, but an expected outcome. Further, “stronger connections with everyone” are not always even _desirable_ outcomes. “Everyone” after all,,includes the child’s tormentors. It is immoral to expect — let alone to teach — the victim of tortures to grow stronger connections” with his or her torturers. (Further, it is psychologically destructive. Google “Stockholm Syndrome.”)



    “6. More Friendships:”

    ———- RESPONSE: “More friendships” is not a strategy.


    “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.”

    ———- RESPONSE: Again, this is not a strategy; it’s what you _wish_ would happen. “Discussing the communication and social deficits” does not mean that the people with whom they are discussed will _do_ anything about the “greater social responsibility” they now supposedly have. It does NOT mean, for instance, that the target of torture will now get better friends. Too often, all that “discussing the communication and social deficits” actually _does_ is to give a a child’s actual or potential tormentors a better idea of just how and where to take advantage of these and damage the child further.


    “7. Overall Well-Being:”
    ———- RESPONSE: That isn’t a strategy, It’s a wished-for outcome.


    “Monitoring potential bullying activity”

    ——— RESPONSE: This, at last, is a strategy … or might be. ONE strategy, 3/4 of the way down a list of ten, is a very poor intellectual or practical return for an article that claimed to deliver strategies.


    “requires the te7. aching staff”

    ——– RESPONSE: Hmmmm, “requires the …” _what_, exactly?! That glaring typo (“teaching” misspelled to include a numeral, a space, and a punctuation mark) appeared also in the earlier (“perks”) version of your article. Anyone can make an error: but preserving the error, in two successive versions of the document, provides clear evidence that it was carelessly edited both times — if it had been carefully edited for its revision (as the circumstances demanded), an error of this size would have almost certainly have been caught before the article appeared in its (barely altered) new form. (Especially disturbing is the fact that the particular error made — involving, as it does, a space added within the word — causes the five letters of the intended word “teaching” to appear as the separate word “aching.” Of all the words which might be created — and retained — through careless editing, the word “aching” is particularly unfortunate in an article on the subject at hand.)



    “to supervise more and create new interventions to ensure the well-being of your child.”

    ———— RESPONSE: This (which of course should be done _before_, rather than after, any child ends up tortured) is not a strategy. (If a professional exam in any professional field were to ask for a list of strategies for attaining some curricular or practical goal, how many of the strategies in this article’s list of ten would be evaluated as being concretely and specifically measurable enough to rate as strategies and to monitor in action?)



    ”8. Healthy Relationships: Ways to deal with bullying also help your child deal with sibling rivalry, ‘stranger danger’, or any other personal threat.”

    ———– RESPONSE: “Healthy relationships” is not a strategy. To state that “ways to deal with bullying” exist and have advantages — without detailing what those “ways” are — is, again, to call a non-strategy a strategy.



    “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.”
    ———— RESPONSE: Again, you are using the label “strategy” to (mis)name a goal — or, more precisely, a wish. It is as if a nutrition article on”ten strategies for losing weight” told readers to follow a “strategy” which was: “With losing weight, you will be healthy and you will start helping others to lose weight.”



    ”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.”

    ———– RESPONSE: Again: this is not a strategy. Further: “self-preservation esteem” is not good English, but is (once more) most likely to be sloppy editing.



    The “Band-Aid” quick-fix quality of the revision suggests a rush job — as if the writer, and/or the editor, thought that changing the title and a couple of surface details would prevent people from noticing that the piece remains substantially unchanged. In particular, as shown above the decision to reclassify alleged “perks” as “strategies” makes the content and structure of the work even more difficult to take seriously and to apply as real-world advice. The problems throughout the revision (notably including the weaknesses of structure and content which were created by misusing or misunderstanding the concept of “strategy”) do not speak well for the writing, editing, or other expertise involved. (I cannot speculate on whether the problems were allowed to pass into print because of sheer haste — people scrambling to fix a misguided article, and hoping that a surface retouching would pass muster — or because someone assumed that not everyone in the audience would bother to read very carefully after having discerned problems with a previous version of the work — or because of some other reason. Whatever the cause, though, the [slightly] revised article remains conspicuously inappropriate, in more than one regard, for “Autism Daily News” or any publication which strives to be helpful, fair, and respectful of its readers and of their experiences and concerns.)

  6. bryan cranston liker says:

    I’ll add just a few things to your points that I’ve experienced personally.

    1. I was never physically abused per se. However, the constant rejection caused traumatizing paranoia as well as an extremely stunted view of social and sexual relationships.

    2. I can trust a few people, mostly my family and friends who have understood me over the years and who have a highly developed sense of compassion towards the disenfranchised. However, I’ve quickly learned that attempting to socialize with many people with this cumbersome ASD diagnosis is a very good way to cause yourself a lot of undue heartache. If they don’t find you socially obtuse now, when you make a faux-pas later, they will. This extends to sexual relationships. In college, women that I’m attracted to (which coincidentally happen to be the top 1% of beauty due to No 1) expect you to be a shredded social butterfly who can effortlessly move through their layer upon layer of bullshit and if you don’t, you’re unceremoniously friendzoned. And feminists wonder why male aspies complain.

    3. Usually true. People don’t like socializing with people who are social poison. Their reputation is at stake, after all.

    Oh, and if you show yourself to be overly intellectual person, people won’t come to you to discuss their feelings, they’ll use you as a free tutor! Amazing isn’t it?

    4. Not true in my case. The adults that were assigned to help me, despite admitting that I was socially obtuse, genuinely desired to help me and actually went out of their way to improve my situation. I was lucky that my instructors in college were understanding, as I was their best student and most of them genuinely empathized with my situation.

    5. I’m a clinical narcissist (thanks for the inheritance, dad) so I never have low self-esteem, at least not in the classical sense. I actually have quite the opposite, and it annoys quite a lot of people. I don’t cry because I think I’m a complete failure, I fret because I don’t get the worship I think is due to me. And no, I’m not a complete asshole.

    6. Bingo. Nothing could be more true in this list.

    7. Stop thinking people want to help you, feministaspie. The only people who do want to help you are people who have an extremely well-developed sense of compassion, which are people who’ve suffered a lot or who are naturally more sensitive. The rest of them just want to indulge their personal likes, and if you get in the way, they’ll obviously remove you.

    I learned this the hard way. The vast majority of teenagers, especially those part of the in-crowd, are often just as narcissistic if not more narcissistic than me, but that’s mostly due to me actually admitting it. This especially applies to the most attractive women, who can’t get enough of mentally masturbating off those likes supplicating men and sycophantic women give them on the photos they’ve specifically taken for that exact purpose. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.

    8. Welcome to “autism awareness” at my local feminist club. Where the person talking is always an academic feminist with a Ph. D. in women’s studies who knows jack squat about autism issues coming to inform us about how our social skills detriment should be used to promote causes we’re not even related to, and how the insults are caused by “hegemonic masculinity” and not by the real cause: the human desire to be liked by the right people. This extends to people of all genders.

    Oh, and when we complain about not getting relationships, we’re told we’re “entitled”.

    9. Oh, they genuinely tried to stop the bullying, and it did subside for a while. But I’ve discovered that I’m fundamentally incompatible with ninety-five percent of the population, mostly because I don’t give a shit about their problems anymore and because math is not a respected skill among average people. Remember, feministaspie, it’s about them, not about you. Ever see how those causes that average people like only last about a few days, then subside and nobody even remembers them? Bingo. You have your answer.

    10. Bullying will always exist because humans are not good unless they’ve had it properly jackhammered into their brains through traumatic events or a naturally more sensitive disposition. The only thing that can stop it is having people be informed of it and it be adequately drilled into them. And even then, with the abilities to read people I’ve gained through endless practice, I can still see their apprehension. Nobody likes being around a person who doesn’t make them feel good.

  7. As I have watched my autistic son (and I myself am on the spectrum) go through different scenarios where he was bullied and where he was not I can tell you with TOTAL ASSURANCE that there was NO “bright side” to the former.
    As an abuse survivor, I can add that this reeks of the kind of rationalization that abusers and their “supporters,” for whom abuse may be a difficult thing to admit/acknowledge, use.
    I just can’t believe that this is, as you say, a thing.

  8. After the site-owner of Autism Daily Newscast VERY suddenly sold the site (she documented this the other day, in an e-mail to all of her site’s subscribers), the new ownership brought in a substantially revised editorial policy, dated today. If you, like me, oppose their previous “professional” worship of “person with ______ ” talk, read especially the paragraph including the words “Identity First”: as this establishes that they now admit a variety of uses but will prefer “autistic person’ to “person with autism” — http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/editorial-policy/

    AND (even more importantly) the “bullying perks”‘article has been COMPLETELY REMOVED from the Autism Daily News site. Its link now comes up “404” (nothing there), and it is GONE from where it appeared: the site’s Editorial section at http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/category/opinion/editorial/ — and likewise GONE from everywhere else on the site. There is no reference anywhere to it, anywhere on the site.

  9. Asperganoid says:

    Can’t trust anyone.
    And that affects Everything doesn’t it?
    I have a particularly apocalyptic dark spot in my heart for bullies.

  10. Asperganoid says:

    Reblogged this on Asperganoid and commented:
    It’s a cold, cold world.

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  19. […] Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious),” on the Feminist Aspie blog:  https://feministaspie.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/10-downsides-kids-with-autism-get-from-bullying-becau….  See also NerdyKid’s contribution to the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being […]

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