The signs of spring and the return of the bully

If I look out at my garden now it is starting to fill with the promise of life; the pink blossom on the cherry tree, the yellow daffodils, the tulips peeping through the soil, the catkins drooping on the twisted hazel and the birds flirting with their prospective partners.  Ordinarily I would love all this and the business of looking forward with anticipation to some better weather and the chance to spend the evenings pottering in the garden.  But I am now starting to dread the promise of longer and warmer days because this usually means that the children in my neighbourhood come out to play along the road that I live.  I dread it because it means that my son’s bully makes an appearance and once again targets my son.

It started about eighteen months ago while my son was unwell and out of school; somehow the community got wind of it and my son (already vulnerable and excluded) became the target of one particular boy who attends the local secondary school.  It started with verbal taunts and insults, mainly about my son’s autism, but then it spread to include more physical forms of intimidation and harassment.  The bully, backed up by his crowd of followers, would lure my son out of the house on the pretence of being his friend and then blame him should they get caught out for any unruly behaviour.  I would often find myself confronted by angry neighbours asking for explanations.  I tried to explain what these kids were doing and whilst they would calm down they had little sympathy for our situation.  I tried to explain to my son what these bullies were doing but he couldn’t understand their deceptiveness mainly because he is not able to understand social communication or social behaviour.  If someone said they were his friend, he would believe them regardless of whether they had hurt him, swore at him or even damaged his beloved bike, the bike that we bought him for Christmas.  And after such events, I would often have to go out and collect my distraught and disorientated child who would often descend into a meltdown soon after.  I told my son to avoid this boy but often this boy and his followers would hunt him out or stand in front of our house, swearing and guesturing.

Not surprisingly, my son stopped going out along our road and I have to admit that I was relieved that he didn’t go out for who wants to see their own child treated like this?  I was not happy with this though; it was not right that my son felt denied of the freedom to walk down his own road without fear of being intimidated or harassed in this way.  We tried to take action.  We approached the school about this boy because many of these incidents happened as the bully walked home from school.  We spoke to the child’s family too.  I even spoke to the bully himself and for a while things seemed to improve and my son started to find a little bit of confidence to go outside our house once again.  However his fragile confidence is now under threat as the bullying has returned in the past few weeks with my son having experienced two physical attacks, the latest just a few hours ago.  It has now got to the point where we will have to take further action.

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14 Responses to The signs of spring and the return of the bully

  1. Aspie in the family says:

    >@ Kathy – thanks for popping in and commenting – I think you are right about involving the police. At the moment, things have calmed down a lot and he is back outside but if the bully causes trouble again then I am taking further action along the lines you suggest.

    @ Wendakai – hello and thanks for commenting. I'm also thinking that a police involvement is the next step should further trouble occur.

    @ Muddling Mum – hi there and thanks for dropping by – this is a very hard situation to be in and am trying to provide alternative activities for my son. We're getting him to try out a sort of youth group aimed to help/support ASD kids emotional development. The people who organise this also run groups for primary aged children so maybe there is something like this in your area.

    @ Looking for blue sky – hello. I'm also trying to develop other activities which is hard going as he compartmentalises his life into school and home and its hard to introduce something else. One thing I have agreed to though is my son using the x-box to connect with his school friends and it seems to be OK at the moment. I was a bit reluctant at first but as most of his peers were on x box I agreed – he is at a special school for ASD kids.

  2. Looking for Blue Sky says:

    >I had this as well with my son. Previously we were living in this estate with lots of boys his own age and I was delighted at first. Then the boys found that when they wound him up he would go into complete meltdown and they started to provoke this deliberately. My boy would of course get the blame when he damaged property and attacked the other children. The nice ones were then banned from playing with him. Before we left he stopped going out to play at all. And it also happened in the school yard when he was still at mainstream school. Now I'm just desperately trying to set up a schedule of extra-curricular activities to make up.

  3. Muddling Mum says:

    >I am dreading getting to this point with my children. None of them are at the outside when they want to stage yet, but it will come. At school it has already raised its head slightly with one of mine at mainstream who like yours, thinks everyone is his friend and then gets used to take the blame when things go wrong.

    I have no idea how we help our kids get through things like this when so many people pretend it isn't happening, or look the other way.

  4. Wendakai says:

    >It happened to Bud too, a few times. On one occasion we called the police. That really made an impact. Honestly, it's all I can suggest. You have really done all anyone can do to put a stop to it. Now you need to make a complaint to the authorities. Even if they don't do much, it will resonate with his parents that they must do a better job of harnessing their son, and then there's a complaint on the books about the bully. I think it's important to get that ball rolling to influence a halt to his behaviour.

  5. Kathy says:

    >Two words: Law Enforcement. Your child is being assaulted and in some cases battered. It sounds drastic, but it seems as though it's time to involve the police. Let this bully get away with what he's doing now and he will graduate to more serious crimes as he gets older. I'm praying that all will be resolved before your son comes to any further harm.

  6. Aspie in the family says:

    >@ jontybabe – thanks for commenting – it is a horrible thing to see your own child bullied, hurt and upset – I hope your situation soon gets sorted. x

    @ Fiona – thanks for commenting. I have tried to get him involved in other activities and his special school has helped him a lot but sometimes he just wants to hang outside our house or down the road. He doesn't have the same amount of freedom as others his own age so I don't allow him that far away as he can become very vulnerable in meltdown situations & disorientated. I just feel sad that its got like this.

    @Lucewoman – thanks for replying. That is what has happened recently; my son has reacted (can hardly blame him) and the bullies are enjoying that reaction and coming back for more. I'll certainly look up MindReading and shall have a chat with school as well to see if they do anything.

    @ CrystalJigsaw – thanks for your comment. I know, it upsets me so much to hear how our SEN kids are treated. This is one of the reasons why I posted – people need to know what is happening in our communities.

    @ Susan – thanks for popping in – when I first witnessed my son's inability to cope with the interaction with his peers, it really shocked me how vulnerable he was. Its one thing being told the theories of ASD but its another thing when you see the social communication/interation problems in action.

    @ Steph – thanks for popping in. This is the difficulty isn't – as a mum I just want to protect him; on the other hand if he wants to go out then I feel I need to help him cope with going out.

    @ Karen – thank you for your comment; I am taking further advice from BullyingUk which has some very useful tips which we are following.

    @Tat – thanks for popping over from blog gems & thankyou for commenting – I agree with you all that it is time to take further action.

  7. Tat says:

    >Bullying is a concern for all of us, but it must be even harder for you because of your son's limitations. It doesn't stop to amaze me how often there is little support available for bullied children after all the publicity that bullying has received lately. I agree with Karen that something needs to be done about it. Talk to teachers, parents.. whoever can help.

    I am visiting back from BlogGems, for some reason I couldn't leave a comment on the post you linked.

  8. Karen V. says:

    >Now is the time for action, mom. Really. This is not acceptable. I know you have talked to the child's family and the bully. This did not do the trick. Do it again. Do it with a threat of legal action. What is being done is an assault and battery. If these were adults it would be a crime. And it is just as much if not more a crime with the child. Get yourself a group of supporters and push.

    Find an advocate in the legal system and push- whether you do it through an advocacy agency for autistic children or through some type of legal organization – do it!! It will not stop unless each of us picks up a weapon- our legal system- and fights. It cannot be tolerated. I see a link on the side of your blog for Bullying UK – I have not clicked it but perhaps they can help or direct you to help.

    Maybe just start with a letter to the child's parents and the school saying that if the school does not work to stop it and the family does not cooperate in stopping it – you will take the legal recourse because your son is being emotionally abused.

    I am so sorry that it's come to this. No one- not one single solitary person should suffer this!! (Rant finished)

  9. Steph says:

    >This is terrible, makes my heart sink and yet we know it's a big issue all AS/ASD boys and girls will face. I hope you find the energy to take it further and not give up the fight – so difficult though, and so tempting to just stay with them at all times. But that's not really a life for you or for them, so the battle goes on, I'm sorry. Hope this bully grows up or moves away soon :(

  10. Susan says:

    >So sorry to hear what is happening to your son. Bullies can just make life a misery for those around them. My son also has problems telling if people are being friendly or laughing at him and it is heartbreaking when it happens.
    Hope things get better for you all soon xxx

  11. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    >What a terrible situation to be in. I know exactly how you must be feeling; our children are very vulnerable and many other children realise this. It happened to Amy and I am also aware that some kids are talking about how she can't do things because she's autistic. It breaks my heart that we are still having to put up with this kind of crap.

    CJ xx

  12. LUCEWOMAN says:

    >I wish I could offer some constructive advice, but I can't. I didn't want to read and run though. I found that the boys with Asperger's used to be the most frequently bullied at the school I worked in. It was the combination of the child wanting to interact, and not understanding social nuances with a vulnerability and consistently providing what the bully wants (a big reaction to the bullying).
    Have you ever come across the computer software called Mind Reading? I thought it was excellent for helping to teach recognition of body language. The pupils loved it, initially it was used for lesson time, but it became a reward activity pretty quickly. It was developed by Cambridge University.

  13. Fiona says:

    >Absolutely awful. I have personal experience of being bullied, as a child I spent many summer holidays a virtual prisoner in my home to avoid being hit or taunted. I cannot imagine what it's like for your son. I know the innocence you talk of, J's autism as you know is severe and we cannot allow him 'out to play' unsupervised, in some ways it's a blessing as he's all too easy a victim. I would opt for providing him with activities away from home if he'd accept them. We did something similar a few years ago because we were living in a rather rough area and I wasn't prepared to allow my 10 year old to associate with children who would have bullied him mercilessly. Cost a fortune though! You are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope things can be sorted out.

  14. jontybabe says:

    >Ohhh no. This is awful! I can empathise as my daughter being bullied too….. But within her special needs school. Her attacks have nothing to do with the other child having problems as this child is very high functioning & is devious & vicious. Her attacks are premeditated. Skool are being useless!!! It's awful to see your child so hurt. I really hope Yr problem can be sorted soon. Truly awful. X

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