By Amy Goodman, Director Autism Now
The launch of my newest feature on Autism Now: Public Speaking has gone well. I have presented two times. I presented on Marriage, Dating, and Relationships at The Arc of Alabama’s conference in October, and I just presented in New York about Adult Bullying. This presentation focused on what to do after the bullying incident and what to include in an anti-bullying program at The Family Service League of New York in North Hampton Beach, Long Island.
This experience gave me insight into what teachers, professionals, and service personnel need in terms of helping children, adolescence, and adults on the spectrum to overcome this challenge and move on with their life. I learned about different anti-bullying techniques or programs that were being implemented in New York Schools. One such program was a buddy system where an individual with an ASD was paired with a pal or mentor and they had to have lunch with them two or three times a week to work on social skills. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t as one teacher reported that yes, the two met, but one was eating and one was reading a book and not conversing at all. The point of the meeting was supposed to be getting individuals with ASD to be open and talking and not always passive and avoiding, not just reading, to show them that it is okay to talk too.
I was able to use my personal story to show what the long term effects of bullying are and what kinds of things I think need to be addressed to help individuals on the spectrum to cope with the aftermath. The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” just isn’t true at all – words do hurt and it is a taunt that can haunt an individual forever. Words can traumatize this vulnerable population in unspeakable ways.
My motto is this: Stand up to the bullies, be brave, and be a buddy not a bully. I know that this is a tall order and it is easier said than done but the more you talk about it and the more you advocate for the bully to do the right thing the better off you will be. Bullies can be mean and nasty but you can be better than them by being yourself, standing up for what you believe in, and doing the right thing by reporting incidents of bullying to the proper authorities. Life can and will get better, just open your eyes and see all the possibilities out there. Above all else believe in yourself and remember the more you know the more empowered you will be.
If you would like to find out more about my services, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.