FEBRUARY 28, 2012 6:10PM

Invisible (Autism)

Rate: 5 Flag

Invisible - Disabilities from the inside out.

Autism, in the mid to mild spectrums, is invisible. You can't see it and it's not immediately, and sometimes ever, obvious to onlookers. In middle school, it seems, life becomes an asshole contest. Who can be the biggest asswipe on the bus, who can be the biggest asshole in class, who can be the biggest bully of the school and who gets to be captain of the peers, picking who will be accepted and casting out the rest, ostracizing them.

Is it an asshole gene that makes kids blurt shit out like they have a bad case of tourettes? Or have the parents never uttered the virtuous advice of, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?" Maybe it's both. Maybe it's a need to blow out the flame of others so that one's own might seem to shine brighter.

I don't know what the reason for rudeness may be, but I do know I am sick to death of Spectrum intolerance among the blissfully ignorant majority. It makes me want to go balls out, stage 4, batshit crazy on people who are cruel to those with disabilities.

The disabilities of my youth were the stuff of wheelchairs, leg braces, dark glasses and retardation that could easily be detected just by looking. We were never made aware of people suffering from invisible disabilities and we have passed this same ignorance to our own children. I will admit I was once just as ignorant.

An insult that would have torn my heart out when I was 9 can effect a 12 -16 year old, who seems perfectly normal on the outside, but has a spectrum disorder, even more profoundly. When a child on the Spectrum comes home from school in tears or in a rage and threatening suicide because of the assholes on the bus, it makes a mom rather furious. How many times must I have a sit down with the bus driver? The teachers? The Principal? The counselors? My kid is big for his age and strong as an ox. I sometimes wish he would just release the fury on those who torment him and a guarantee it will not happen again.

Why was he kicked to the losers curb today? Because of his favorite jacket, given to him by his older brother that was all the rage (among middle schoolers and older) 4 years ago. Pretty freaking sad, no? Would these kids scream insults at a person in a wheelchair for taking up too much space? I doubt it. But someone who seems incapable of verbally fighting back is fair game.

I recall the father that went onto the bus to personally put a stop to the teasing and bullying (including hitting) of his handicapped daughter. He went to jail for saying what needed to be said, with a passion I am all too familiar with. He was out the next day with the majority of news viewers cheering him on. He did the right thing, in my opinion, and the hubub attracted the necessary attention for the school and county to finally do something about the bullies on that girl's bus. Unfortunately that father's approach was so different we showed him intolerance and ignorance as well. At least initially. Until it came out that his daughter was handicapped.

But seriously.... how many of us (parents of spectrum kids) wants to announce to every peer, every bus driver, every teacher, every coach, every parent of the few friends they have, that our kid has an autistic spectrum disorder? Whereupon an image of the Rainman pops into their head and we are off to the class room to give them the 10 minute education on Austism from severe to mild, blah, blah, blah when the whole damned thing could be settled if everyone, in general, made an effort to be nice to others. Everybody has a bad day from time to time, but when the bad day becomes one's way of life, one just becomes an asshole, no matter how old they are.

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It's a shame that kids are so mean, then and now. I would probably have that talk at that school if it was my child. People need to be informed including the teachers.
Wow. You're a helluva good mom, and writer
His own teachers do know, but I can't say that other teachers do. Even though I have had these talks endlessly with the teachers and given the educational speech on Autism to each of them, they still ignore what they shouldn't as well as cross the spectrum line with their own behavior - like getting all in a huff when my kid does not verbally greet them, make eye contact and goes into lock down mode when they get nose to nose with him to try to force him to do as they wish when these minor behaviors are standard, typical symptoms of Autistic Spectrum disorders, in general. But that's really an aside from what I was initially saying.
Thanks BadScot, I appreciate the read and comment and it sure feels good to hear that once in a while. :-)
Great telling of a sad story! As the mother of a child who was bullied, I feel your pain.
My daughter is experiencing the same issues with her son and the school he attends, though equipped with special-ed teachers, there are still moments when emotional outbursts are considered hostile acts of anger which teachers are not able to control without physical restraints. The other students welfare and safety also prevent most teachers from taking appropriate actions to modify bad behavior displayed by some students with children with special needs.
Belinda T - I think the issues I am having with the school is ill knowledge of the various spectrum disorders - among teachers. If you look up Autism on any medical website you will find "does not make eye contact," as the #1 or #2 symptom. Yet these teachers try to force eye contact. What the hell is wrong with them? They just don't "get" it.