Autistic Boy's Amazing Response to Bullies Who Beat Him Up Goes Viral (PHOTOS)

autistic boy Gavin JosephWhen a group of bullies tricked an autistic boy into meeting up with them in order to "teach him a lesson," they were the ones who wound up getting a lesson from him -- one on forgiveness. Gavin Joseph refused to press charges against the other boys after taking a cruel beating at their hands; instead, he asked that their punishment would involve some education for them on what it means to go through life while dealing with a disability.

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According to a viral Facebook post shared by his mom's friend (with Mom's permission), Joseph, who has Asperger's syndrome and so falls on the autism spectrum, was convinced to meet the other young men at their insistence that they wanted to be friends with him and hang out together. Their plan, however, involved a lot less friendship and a lot more fists -- they had decided that Joseph was "weird" and "creepy" and that committing an act of senseless violence against him would make him fall into line. They left Joseph lying on the sidewalk with a concussion, bruised esophagus, and nose fracture, and a hematoma in one eye:

If Joseph had chosen to press charges, he certainly would have been well within his rights. Forgiveness is nice, but when you've got an ocular hematoma you might feel a little more kinship with the idea of "an eye for an eye." But instead, he asked that his attackers get a little less retribution and a little more education: He wants them to have to perform community service by working with people with disabilities, to have to watch a 20-minute video he recorded about his own life, and to have to write an essay about Asperger's to show what they've learned.

More from The Stir: 10 Inspiring People With Autism Who’ve Accomplished Amazing Things

It's great that Joseph's idea of justice involves learning and not just punishment, but it's a shame that the burden of being open-minded and educating these bullies has to fall on him. Parents need to teach their kids that not all disabilities and differences are plainly visible. (And let's be realistic, this is a lesson that plenty of parents undoubtedly still need to learn, too.)

Mental illness, chronic fatigue or pain, arthritis, the autism spectrum -- none of these are apparent to someone on the outside, especially a healthy and neurotypical individual. But the people dealing with them still deserve our respect and compassion, just as someone in a wheelchair would. And it shouldn't take getting caught dealing a cruel and unusual beating to a neurodivergent child for anyone to understand that.

How do you talk to your children about those with differences and disabilities?


Images via Susan Moffatt / Facebook

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