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How do you deal with an autistic bully?

 
 
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 12:01 pm
There's a kid at Mo's school that has glommed onto him in a really negative way. He follows Mo around and shouts insults at him - things that would get Mo into huge trouble if he did it to anyone. He's always inserting himself into whatever Mo is doing, distracting him from getting his work done and being an ongoing source of frustration. Mo comes home from school absolutely exhausted by this kid. It's nearly constant harassment.

And Mo just has to take it -- because this kid is autistic.

Mo is a pretty good kid but no angel and once in a while he snaps back (verbally, not physically) at this kid, who then goes home and tells his parents that he's being bullied by Mo, then the parents then call the school saying their kid feels unsafe at school, then the school calls me.

The school says Mo really does do a good job of managing his anger and frustration at this kid and they can even understand why Mo occasionally snaps back but it all has to be reported and recorded as a discipline problem.

Mo is loved by the teachers and staff at his school and they're really trying to help remedy the situation but their hands are tied because of this kid's diagnosis.

My advice on how to deal with harassment isn't appropriate in this situation.

This kid basically has a license to insult and harass Mo and it's wearing Mo down.

Advice? Ideas? Suggestions?
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Type: Question • Score: 10 • Views: 2,341 • Replies: 38

 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 12:47 pm
Could you reach out to the autistic child's parents?
maxdancona
 
  5  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 12:48 pm
@boomerang,
This sounds ridiculous. There is no way that Mo should have to take responsibility for this. I (as a parent) would push back and I would push back hard. It sounds like the school administration is taking the path of least resistance... but this is their responsibility, not your son's.

I would take written notes about each incident from Mo's perspective.

I would talk to the principal and ask for this to be resolved, and make it clear that it has to be resolved. I would bring along the documentation of each incident (there is no better way to get an administrator's attention then to provide documentation). I would follow this up with a written letter (which is an implied threat of legal action that will also get their attention).

I would talk to whatever resources the school has available as far as counseling for their help to resolve the problem.

I would ask for Mo to switch classrooms, and anything else to separate them.


boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:04 pm
@Tes yeux noirs,
I think it would be easy if they were actually children, but they're young adults. Mo is 15 and the other kid is either 15 or 16.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:13 pm
@maxdancona,
I have a hard time faulting the school. I think they are very sympathetic to Mo's plight. I'm willing to be Mo would have been suspended already at any other school. Mo is in his 4th year at this tiny school and they know him VERY well. They know he isn't a troublemaker or a bully. They see this kid harassing him but they can't do much about it because "he's autistic and he can't help it".

Mo can't switch classes without losing the credit he will need to graduate. He's at a tiny, alternative school that is absolutely excellent but he has been talking about transferring to the neighborhood mega-high school just to get away from this kid. He loves his school but it's just exhausting to him to deal with this every day.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:18 pm
I think this is a side of autism that nobody talks about. I didn't really know about it either.

I hate to admit this but I Googled "autism, asshole" and was surprised at the number hits. I've always thought of autistic kids as being quiet and introverted. That is not always the case.
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:23 pm
@boomerang,
If the other parents are reporting this, then I think you and Mo also need to lay formal complaints - consistently.

The school could work with the other parents to develop a formal plan but they have to understand that they have to do it. If you don't lay formal daily complaints, it won't happen.

The other kid needs the management plan with a good support worker for his own long-term benefit.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:24 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I've always thought of autistic kids as being quiet and introverted. That is not always the case.



my anecdotal experience is on the not quiet and introverted side
0 Replies
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  -2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:28 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
I hate to admit this but I Googled "autism, asshole" and was surprised at the number hits. I've always thought of autistic kids as being quiet and introverted. That is not always the case.

The name "Assberger syndrome" didn't arise by accident.
0 Replies
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:30 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
They see this kid harassing him but they can't do much about it because "he's autistic and he can't help it".

They should not abdicate their duty of care to the other pupils because of this.

0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 01:56 pm
@ehBeth,
This kid has a very comprehensive IEP.

From what I gather it says something like "Kid can't control his impulses so he can't be held accountable for acting on them. Kid can't understand how anyone else feels so when he insults or harasses someone it doesn't really matter."

We have met with the school several times over the last month. Mo stayed late one day for an "autism awareness" meeting with the staff. Mo gets that this kid can't help it and he's really trying hard not to let it get to him but it's hard.

Mo has his own psychological vulnerabilities and this kid, who is not supposed to "get" other people, has zeroed in on them in an unbelievable way. It's confounding!
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 02:08 pm
@boomerang,
If the IEP says anything like that , it's seriously inadequate. He should be there with a one-on-one worker who prevents the harassment (sort of the work a former a2ker does as a semi-retirement gig).

Gotta hold the school's feet to the fire. Complain every time Mo comes home tired from the harassment. It's no good for Mo either way - tired or being asked to report. Does Mo have anyone in the school who can help you with the reporting so he doesn't have to do it?

Really sad when this school has done so well for him over the past years.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 02:28 pm
@ehBeth,
I think the school is still the right place for him. He probably would have been suspended or expelled already at a more traditional school for snapping at a disabled kid.

I agree the kid needs an aide.

Unfortunately almost all of his outbursts are directed at Mo so Mo is seen as part of the problem. I guess I'm going to have to pull my inner bitch out of storage. I've really tried to be patient and understanding about this kid's disability but it's turned into a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 02:34 pm
@boomerang,
I think you are letting the school off easy, Boomerang. It is their responsibility to provide a comfortable, safe, learning environment for all of their students. This includes Mo. They are failing to do their job.

The school has a responsibility to resolve this problem in a way that Mo's needs are being met in addition to this other students. There is no way in hell I would accept that "they can't do much because he is autistic". That is not an answer for why they are failing to meet their responsibility.

When I was a teacher, I was trained to work with children with behavioral issues. One of my students had OCD, he would occasionally blurt out swears in the middle of class. We had clear steps to manage his behavior in a way that was safe and compassionate for him and for the other students. It worked very well for everyone. And, we never even considered allowing other students to suffer because of this process.

My student with OCD had the support he needed, as well as behavior signals and a way out. When he signaled he needed space alone, we had an agreement to let him go. When his behavior was unacceptable we had a way of signaling this to him and a set of steps to manage this.

By the way, this was a great student who did very well in my class. The support from the school for both this student, and the other students was key.

I can't imagine any professional educator or administrator accepting that one student pays for the behavior issues of another student.

The school is failing to do their job and making pretty lame excuses for it. You should insist that they fix this problem.

boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 02:41 pm
@maxdancona,
I think you're right.

I think I've just reached the tipping point from "this kid has a disability and needs our understanding" to "this kid is making my kid miserable and getting him into trouble and something has to change".

Still, I have this gut feeling that going up against the family with the autistic kid means I'm going to lose, and lose big because it will have a huge impact on Mo.
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 02:44 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
Unfortunately almost all of his outbursts are directed at Mo so Mo is seen as part of the problem.


that is totally unacceptable

let the bitch roar
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 03:07 pm
@boomerang,
Just to clarify my point of view. You want a solution, not a fight.

My advice is to go to the school administration with a list of specific incidents. I wouldn't fight with the family... it is not their responsibility. Make it clear that you are willing to work to find a solution... maybe Mo needs a way to either separate himself or to get adult support, but that what is happening is unacceptable.

Obviously the less you have fight, the better for everyone. Be insistent and look for a way to solve the problem.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 03:35 pm
@boomerang,
Sympathy/understanding to Mo - he is sharp to be able to somewhat understand the dynamics as he does.

In a way, sympathy to the other kid too, the pattern he has gotten into is boding giant trouble in his future. I'm not so sure the niceness re his diagnosis is a favor to him either, and it is awful for Mo.

Resentment happens to most people at some point, as can jealosy; on and on, and these can be hard to control, as we see every day in headlines.

I've no advice. ehBeth's comment, I tend to agree, if only to clear Mo's rep, if that ever comes up.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 03:43 pm
More has been said since I started to comment, I'm late, haven't read it all, maybe I didn't notice there was another bunch of posts

Wish Kris were here to post..

For those, like Tes, who don't know who I am talking about, we have had a longtime friend here who went into teaching and would probably have a point of view.
0 Replies
 
glitterbag
 
  5  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 04:24 pm
@boomerang,
This school is not fulfilling their duties. If they accept an autistic child they must provide the guidance and they definitely have to protect Mo. I was on the board of a non-profit that provided job training and socialization for adults with developmental impairment. It was a day program, and it's important to realize that within that population we had several folks who could be harmful to others. One young adult liked to flip wheelchairs especially if they were occupied. She knew she was wrong, but she would take off running faster than any of the caregivers could and flip those chairs. When all efforts to retrain her failed, she was dropped from the program.

The one that really stands out to me was the 18 - 19 year old autistic man who would go into rages when he didn't get his way. He was over 6' tall and weighed close to 300 pounds and he scary. I was in an office next to a room where he was with several others, something made him angry and I was very startled by the volume and fury in his voice. Then he began pounding on the wall between us so aggressively the pictures on the wall shook violently. I asked the staff member what was happening and that's when I realized how bad a situation was for the other clients and staff. The organization tried everything to control his actions, but one afternoon he send a staff member to the hospital and they had to send him home and his Mom had to find another place for him.

I think both the parents and the school are seriously misguided about their responsibilities. There are useful programs for autistic people and your school isn't one of them. I would ask the administrators whose insurance covers your son from violent behaviour while he is in their care - the school or the parents or possibly both. Morally and ethically they cannot ignore their responsibility of care by shoving it off to a 15 year old child whose parents pay tuition. even if they don't charge tuition, it doesn't matter, this other boy is a threat to Mo.

If it is a public school, you still have options. I'll see if I can get in touch with the staff members and see if they have any useful suggestions. Bottom line, autistic boy is snowing his parents. And they have to follow them with the treatment at home if they hope to prepare their son for eventual independence.

I am not unsympathetic to children with developmental impairments, but within those groups you will have nice people, bullies, con artists, and malingerers. They may think this child can't help it, but he's targeting Mo, so now it's up to them to correct this situation. Please don't feel guilty or worry that others think you are intolerant of autism. That's not what's going on, and like I said earlier, our autistic man injured several people during his brief stay at our facility. The school can't just throw up their hands as if they are not responsible.

If you have any questions you think I might help with, please just pm me. I don't have all the answers but I try. Good luck boomer, I hope this gets resolved for Mo's sake.
 

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