This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro, a motivational speaker and best-selling author who’s on the autism spectrum. You can learn more about Kerry on Facebook and Twitter. This blog originally appeared here.
When I was in public school I used to be bullied by people like you. You would see me in the corner, usually trying to keep to myself and wonder why I was there. Other times you would see me having issues reading out loud in class and snicker while I tried to pronounce different words. You’d take my inability to understand sarcasm as a way to get me in trouble. Worst of all, you’d make me feel like an outsider when more than anything I wanted to fit in.
Words can hurt people. Whether you understand the impact that you have please try to put yourself in the shoes of the people you harass. If you did you’d know that I struggled as a kid, and many people do at times…not only those with special needs but anyone who may not be classified as quote on quote ‘normal’. Some people can’t stand up for themselves due their different limitations when a bully attacks them.
Today thankfully most bullying has stopped for me. I spent 15 years working on physical, occupational and speech therapy to become an adult who has been able to thrive. I’ve become a speaker today traveling around the country to share my personal experiences with bullying to help educate those on the harmful effects behavior such as yours can have on those in our community.
I wanted to share this letter with you today in the hopes that if you ever read it that you will think again before you bully someone who may seem a little bit different than you are. You may not know this but 1 in 5 Americans today has a disability. I hope you will learn compassion for others like me. I hope that, if you ever have kids or someone that looks up to you that maybe one day you can help make them understand the harmful effects of bullying. People just don’t bully in school. They can be bullies anywhere.
With your support today, we can break down barriers of hate and intolerance.
Then…we can spread awareness.
Then we can spread education…
And finally then we can see our loved ones, people such as myself, being accepted for exactly who they are. What a wonderful world that would be to live in…
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. If you are looking to spread awareness of the impact bullying has on our community please reach out to me here to let me know how I can help. Autism Speaks also shares combating bullying resources available here to help spread the word. Thank you!