Max, Autism and Getting Bullied, what would you do?
By McNall Mason, Max’s Mom
Max came home yesterday with a disturbing story about a kid named Ben. I wrote about Ben yesterday after Max told me he doesn’t want to be autistic anymore. We’ve been chatting about Ben all year long. Max knows Ben is autistic, he sees the similarities, hand flapping, tantrums, etc and he doesn’t really want to be associated with him. It’s been a year of interesting conversations about Ben and a lot of those conversations have to do with bullying.
Max hangs out with the jocks (if there are “jocks” in the 3rd grade) and they play sports at recess. He loves it. One day he came home and told us that some of his “friends” were making fun of Ben at recess. We talked about it and how to handle it. Max wants to fit in and he’s not confident enough yet to stand up for another kid. I get it, he doesn’t want to make fun of or hurt Ben, but he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself either. It’s a balance.
So we talked about what to do if his friends are giving Ben a hard time and we decided the best option for Max is to try redirecting… you know… “hey guys, let’s play over there” or “Hey, I’m going to go play kickball” or whatever and it seemed to be working well for Max… until yesterday.
This whole thing disturbs me… and this is Max’s account of it… other than blogging, I haven’t yet decided what to do about this…
Yesterday, Max’s classroom teacher left early and another teacher (well call him Mister G) stepped in to watch over the class. During this time, Ben, who had been misbehaving, was sent over from his regular classroom teacher to Max’s classroom to do a “timeout” with Mister G.
Ben was frustrated and didn’t want to sit down. Mister G told him to sit down. Instead, Ben made a guttural sound and flapped his arms up and down as if he was frustrated. Mister G then mimicked Ben. The class laughed. Ben yelled “don’t mimic me” and Mister G did it again and the class laughed. After that, Ben’s classroom teacher came in to find out what was going on and nobody told her what happened, not even Ben, he just left with her to return to his class.
Max was upset and unsure what to do. He clearly knows that what Mister G did was wrong and it made him so uncomfortable that he told us about it. We talked about it. I asked him if he could tell me the choices he has for how to deal with this and with prompting we came up with a list:
1. Do nothing, say nothing
2. Tell your teacher when you get to school today
3. Tell Mister G how you feel
We discussed the ramifications of all three choices. We discussed picking the one that was going to best resolve the situation for Max so that he’s not left with internal conflict. Sue and I are left with wanting to help him “do the right thing” while safe-guard him from being singled out as a tattle-tale, supporting Max in taking care of the situation in a way that he feels good and wanting to confront Mister G ourselves because we’re appalled. Balancing act.
What would you do?