Home > General, Resources > Is Your Special Needs Child Being Bullied?

Is Your Special Needs Child Being Bullied?

If you have a special needs child, chances are you have had some issues with bullying. I have said more times than I can count, “I feel like James is walking around with a bullseye on his back.” With his overly-friendly disposition, limited social skills, complete lack of understanding sarcasm, and tendencies to cry easily and obey anyone (ages 2 and up) it is something I worry about constantly.

Ironically, when I started on this post yesterday I wrote “I am happy to say that many of our bullying issues (and there have been some bad ones) have been resolved at James’s current school, thanks to a very supportive principal, caring teachers and an AMAZING paraprofessional who has helped James navigate the social scene for the last 2 years. I also went in last year and spoke frankly with James’s class and answered questions about is disability – this has made about 85% of the class protective and empathetic towards James (see Are You Smarter Than a Fourth Grader).

However, by the time I picked James up from school today we had some new bullying issues crop up – apparently a child has been smart/sneaky enough to  pick on James only during times his para is on break. Thankfully, James is getting better about mentioning it and remembering times and places so that we can piece it all together. I’m also lucky that James’s para is so fantastic – she truly cares about him and I know she is now on the look out. I can’t stress enough what a relief it is to know that someone at school is watching out for your child (in a subtle, non-parent way).

Despite the reputation many NYC public schools have for being rough, it was when we lived in Virginia that we had some serious issues with bullying and a very unsympathetic teacher. At one point a particularly awful child in the class would follow James around all day softly singing the birthday song in his ear. This used to be a huge phobia and would reduce him to tears instantly, so you can imagine what school must have been like. The worst part was that we didn’t find out about it for months – it wasn’t until another student told us that it was even brought to our attention. When we questioned the teacher she explained that she had told James that “singing was not bullying. it was only bullying if he was hit.” Awesome advice.

I wish I had known about http://www.bullystoppers.com back then. It’s been around since 2001 but I just discovered it recently and have added it to the Websites and Resources page. Among other things, this amazing resource allows parents and students to anonymously report bullying situations at their school or on the bus. This free tool also offers advice, skills training and comebacks.  Definitely worth a look.

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