Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bullying - scares me.

Yup- it does. Every time this week I have turned on the TV, watched CNN at the gym, listened to the radio on the way to therapy..it has been all the same - teen suicide. This topic seriously scares me to my core as a mother, and breaks my heart as a human being.

I think the teenage years for mostly everyone, is rough. It is full of emotions, growing, discovery - it can be a scary place. A lot of people that I know and love, including myself, have struggled with this as a teenager - thinking this is going to be your life, and this will never end. Then when you become an adult you than finally realize, this too shall pass. Everyone has their own issues for feeling like you need to end your life, whether it be sexuality, abuse, teasing, maybe like me, your family life.

Why I am blogging about this issue, is because yes, I have gone through the horrible thoughts, and I was strong enough to grow out of it, and move on. On the news, we have been hearing about teens who are homosexuals, finding no other escape from the teasing, but in my situation with Owen, what about a son who is a little different?

Right now in Owen's life, he has no concept of children, and unfortunately adults, looking at him different, this stage in his life - he is alright. He really doesn't care who watches him, laughs at him, loves him - everyone is the same. It pleased me to no greater end today, picking him up from preschool, and finding out he was playing with children today and not just doing his owen thing, and that a little boy Logan, wanted to play with him..and Owen tried to play with him all afternoon. Right now is a nice time being Owens advocating-ever so protective parent, children who are his age are amazing with him.

Then I see all this on the news about when your teenager is different, and will most likely be teased, sometimes, the child has no clue how to deal with it. I can say this is very scary. I am hoping Owen just starts talking and talking, and has little quirks, that yes, some stupid-ass kid will find someway to make fun of him - and either Owen will not care whatsoever..or not notice...or cry it out and move on..this is my hope.

I guess with this issue I have an allie to be places where I can not be all the time - my Maddie. She does not know it yet, and hopefully she will embrace this role for me, as I think she will, she will be my eyes, my Owen protector. I want my children to grow up knowing if anything happens to Ryan or I, they always have each other. I want Ben and Maddie to embrace their roles in Owens life, and hopefully not as a negative one. I always want to be honest with them, not have a selective memory, remember when I was a child and what Ryan and I went through, whether its regarding school, sports, anything - we will always understand.

Also thinking about bullying, I think back to school and how maybe I was perceived. I admit, I was not the nicest person, looking back, I think I picked on people because I myself was completely miserable. I tried to participate in everything I could in high school and date as often and frequent as possible, just to stay away from home, and made fun of people to better my own ego that was completely false...I guess we all make mistakes, and that was mine. Luckily, I store away my attitude now for fighting Owen's battles, and Lord knows we will have a lot in our future to fight.

So whatever, Bullying anyone is all the same - Gay, Straight, Smart, Dumb, Autistic, Race - whatever it may be..it needs to stop. The greatest teacher is the parent - remember that.



  1. Venessa,

    I've been following your family's story a little bit through a mutual acquaintance and I just stumbled upon your blog a few minutes ago and thought I could try and humbly offer something for you. Working with kids today I get a bright hope for the future; since having grown up we understand why kids pick on others, how it is as you said, really out of their own unhappiness or insecurity, maybe now we'll be better equipped to educate our next generate about this, more so than our parents had, and maybe in turn they'll be more equipped to deal with aggressors through compassion, easing the need for them to compensate for their lack of confidence in the first place; I believe bullies themselves lack confidence for only one reason; someone stole it from them. A child with enough confidence in themselves has no need to put others down. But to the point:
    In one of our kid's kung fu classes (ages 7-12) we have one boy diagnosed with asperger's. At first we were nervous putting him into the class because of his obvious struggle given the physical nature of mostly everything we do and because of what the other children might say. The most astonishing thing about our student is that he loves the class, granted some activities are obviously more difficult, but he just keeps on kicking with a smile on his face and never ever stops to say "I can't do this, I'm different", and because of that he simply gets better and better every class. In this way this eight year old boy ended up teaching us a great lesson that masters have been struggling to learn for centuries; to practice with no thought of self. We tend to worry about these differences much more than the younger generation because of our own insecurities, and we inadvertently pass these onto them. We must be careful not to impress such things onto them and therefore into the future.
    Once our student adjusted to the program we were amazed at how accepting the other children are, not that it matters to him anyway, he just keeps pluggin away havin a blast the whole time, in this way he offers more to the class than most of the others. I know this will not always be the case in every scenario, but the reason for their acceptance became clear to me within a short period; We teach our classes in a positive environment were we try to praise as much as possible, we very rarely, if ever discipline students in any negative way, meaning we always encourage the behaviour we want, instead of bringing more attention to the behaviour we don't want. We do this in an effort to pack as much confidence into each student as possible, so they don't feel the need to point out any differences in anyone else. As teachers and parents, the biggest step we can take to end bullying is to fill our kids with confidence by respecting, loving and praising them. I know this would seem impossible when one classroom has 30 kids and there's no way to know what goes on when they all go home, but all we can do ourselves is try our very best to make sure every child feels as if they could do anything.
    As for our student, on his current path he is scheduled to test for and attain his black belt in December of 2012, I wouldn't miss it for anything, because what's really amazing is that while I'll be thinking, "here's this kid that earned his black belt, an endevour that so few others do, even with his struggle being so much greater than the others beside him graduating at the same time", he'll probably thinking "I'm just a kid that worked hard and got his black belt, no different than the other kids beside me"

    My humble two cents,
    Best wishes,

    Rob Atalick
    Niagara Kung Fu Academy

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  3. I am scared of this too!!! Olivia is such a timid child I already see her get run over no matter where we go when it involves other kids. I hope she gets her mother's piss n vinegar running threw her veins, not her father's incredible ability to be the best door mat i have ever seen.:(