You've probably heard it said that "kids are cruel." And to look at the statistics of autistic teenagers who are bullied, it's true. Nearly half of kids on the spectrum are victims of the mean kids. HALF!
It's a statistic that's scary for parents of autistic kids. But if you don't have a kid on the spectrum, you might just glance right over it. And that's exactly the problem.
You, me, all the parents of kids who are neurotypical who don't take this whole "autistic kids getting bullied" thing seriously are the problem. Our kids should know better. And if they don't, why the heck not?
Oh, right, because we haven't drilled it into their heads hard enough. Picking on kids is bad, picking on kids with disabilities is flat out awful ... and a sign of a kid who will turn into a miserable adult.
I remember the kids with disabilities in my school. I wouldn't have dreamed of picking on them. Of course, I didn't pick on anyone. I was more the "picked on" than the "picker" type.
But my parents were careful to teach their kids that you always look out for the little guy in particular -- whether that means getting up out of your seat so the elderly woman can sit or making sure the kid with autism felt included. You help someone out where you can because that's what people do.
It's not the easiest thing to teach.
Go too far, and you end up raising a condescending little a-hole who thinks they're better than people who are different. This isn't about making your kids "pity" someone with disabilities. It's about recognizing that everyone has different strengths, and it's up to us as people to help one another out.
So if your kid's strength is being neurotypical, they can help out an autistic kid. Here's betting they'll be pleasantly surprised by all they can get back from doing it -- even if it's just a new friend.
Do these bullying statistics shock you? Have you talked to your kids about being kind to kids who are different?
Image via Eddie S/Flickr