Illustrations from an autism mom: What is a bully?
October 17, 2018
The post below is by Lisa Smith, the mother of seven children, two with special needs. Her son Tate has autism. Lisa blogs about her experiences and can be found on Facebook at Quirks and Chaos or at quirks-and-chaos.blogspot.com.
My fifteen-year-old son, Tate, is a freshman in High School. Tate has autism. To my knowledge Tate has never had to deal with a peer who is a bully. I have a theory or two about the why(s) behind that and you can read about all of that here: A Successful Buddy Program
It is hard for some to believe that Tate does not have a problem with bullies. Many people have told me that bullying is just something their children with autism have to live with. I have had a few people suggest to me that Tate is likely being bullied for his differences, but is either unable to recognize it himself and complain, or that I am just too out-of-touch to know. It really is hard for some people to understand that we seem to have done what is considered "the impossible." There simply are no bullies in Tate's life.
Because the month of October is bullying prevention month, I decided to talk to my two special needs kids about bullying. I asked Tate if he knew what a bully is. He said, "a bully is someone who is mean to kids." I walked away and came back a bit later to ask him to go a bit more into depth about what a bully is. This time he said, "a bully picks on kids." So I asked him what a bully looks like. He told me a bully looks like a big kid who is really mean. I asked him if a little kid could ever be a bully and he said, "yes." I asked him if a grown up could be a bully. He again answered, "yes." So I asked him if he knew any bullies. He exclaimed, "no!"
I wanted to explain some things about bullying to Tate and his younger sister, and that is best done with visuals for my two literal kids. The following is what I came up with...