Health

My Number One Worry as My Child on the Autism Spectrum Begins High School

Last night, the hubby took me by surprise by a statement he made: “I wonder if Dominic will be bullied.”

As someone who was bullied in high school, it immediately brought back the feelings I try to keep buried, bubbling to the surface. I graduated 36 years ago, but it takes just a split second to feel that familiar sadness and anger. A definition of a bully according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is:

“One who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.”

There were a couple groups of girls that thrived on bullying me. They would continue to threaten me until I gave them what they wanted: to see me cry.

I played sports with some of these girls, so at times it was very unpleasant. When I became a parent, I hoped that my children wouldn’t be bullied. Unfortunately, my daughter went through a time when she was bullied in school. It was so hard to not want to go to the parents and say something. I really had to restrain myself.

I think the hubby and I both have concerns with Dominic, given the fact that he has kind of been in a “cocoon” at the two middle schools he attended. He has been with the same group of kids for several years and he is accepted 100 percent for the person he is. The high school he is going to is several times larger than where he just finished eighth grade. So, that’s one challenge. Another challenge is that everything will be new. New rooms, new bus driver, new routines.

Dominic likes to talk to himself when he is over-stimulated. Will the kids who don’t know him think that’s weird or strange?

I am on social media a lot because I manage the Facebook pages of two non-profit organizations specifically for those with autism and other disabilities. I see the awful videos and articles of kids being bullied. I feel sad for those kids and I don’t even know them. How will I feel if I find out Dominic is being bullied? He doesn’t have the language to be able to tell me. He doesn’t pick up on social cues very well, so he may not know if someone is treating him poorly. That’s what breaks my heart in half, the possibility that he won’t be able to recognize if he is being bullied.

Through my connections that I have with other parents who have had their children at the high school, I can say that I have never heard of any child being bullied. I will keep my fingers crossed, as Dominic heads to school on August 27, that he will not be the first one.

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