Many Autistic and ADHD people get bullied for being unique, and for the way their Autism and ADHD affects them. Bullying isn’t your typical name-calling and joking around. As a matter affect, bullying can take the form of physical and mental abuse and is very damaging, both emotionally and physically.
I was a victim of bullying nearly throughout all the years I was in school, mostly in middle and high school. I was called many bad names, including the “R” word, “stupid”, “slow”, “dumb”, “teacher’s pet”, and even the “N” word because of my dark complexion. I never quite understood why I was called the “N” word, because I am Romanian and Indian, not African American. I honestly believe the other students who called me that, did not know what they were saying.
In addition to name-calling, I was purposely chosen last for games, or not chosen at all. I was usually chosen, because the teacher or another adult made them. One game that I absolutely hated was “Heads Up, 7 Up!”. In that game, 7 students are chosen to stand at the front of the room and everyone else sits at their desks with their heads down and thumbs up. The 7 students walk around the room and choose one student. Then they sit down, and the 7 chosen students go to the front of the room to choose the next set of students. I was never chosen unless the teacher whispered to them to choose me. It always hurt deep inside, being left out like that. I wanted so badly to fit in at school and to be one of the cool kids, but that never happened during my years at school. I spent many nights crying over being left out and the many birthday parties and sleepovers that I missed. The only sleepovers I ever had were with relatives.
From the day I started middle school, things were tougher. I was agitated on my first day of school, due to not having a playground to run and play on. Mentally, I was not a middle-schooler, but maybe 5 years old, at the time, instead of 10. I got yelled at for running wild around the courtyard and could not settle down, due to being confined in a classroom with no time to run and play, aside from an hour of Phys. Ed. Another reason for my being so wound up was hyperactivity is a key symptom of ADHD. When I was in elementary school, part of my routine was running in the upper field and swinging on swings at recess. It was hard to not have that in middle school.
When I was running wild around the courtyard at school, I was laughed at and called a “spaz”. I couldn’t control myself and felt a sense of freedom being able to run. I just needed to play and have fun. But the bullying did not end at name-calling and laughing at me. I was also hit, kicked, spat on, slammed into walls and physically beat up often. All because I had a disability that not many people understood, or even made an effort to understand and accept.
The other students hated having me at school and some even wished I was dead. They knew I had an emotional support bird and a dog, and they would threaten to kill either my bird, dog or me. The other students especially hated me being a part of games, because I couldn’t run or play as well as my classmates. I never could run because of my asthma and nowadays, I have knee trouble, so that makes it hard to run as an adult. I couldn’t understand directions and what I needed to do to play and the other students would get so angry with me, and if my team lost the game we played, I would be blamed for it.
One day in April of 2003, I was playing a game of kickball in Phys. Ed., and we lost because I kicked the ball wrong and I was the last one on my team to kick the ball, before the other team scored. When I kicked the ball, the other team caught it and I was out. The score was tied, and when it was the other’s team’s last time to kick, they made the winning kicks, and my team members were very angry with me. They took me to the other side of the field where no one could see us, knocked me to the ground, and starting beating the living daylights out of me. They stomped on my back, kicked me, and pounded their fists into me. After a few minutes, one kid yelled, “I think she’s hurt, we need to stop before we get caught.!” So they let me go and it was hard to get up and I slowly walked to the locker room and grabbed my clothes and went into the bathroom to change so no one would see my bruises from being attacked. I hurt pretty bad afterwards, but managed to keep to myself and get through the rest of the day. I didn’t tell my family what happened, and wore long sleeves and long pants so no one would see my bruises, including what I slept in. I wore them until I healed.
I may have had permanent injuries from that day. I was left with back spasms and possibly chronic pain. Some days, even at the age of 31, its hard to get out of bed, and some days, I can barely walk. I also have post-traumatic stress disorder from years of bullying, including that day. I never enjoyed kickball every again and to this day, I hate it, because it brings back memories of that day at school.
Another thing that my classmates enjoyed doing was using my hair to spit their chewing gum and sunflower seed husks in. This happened in both middle and high school. Sunflower seeds were banned at both schools, but that didn’t keep kids from taking them to school. My hair was always made fun of because of it being thick and curly, and impossible to manage. One day in history class, I felt someone spit something into my hair, and told my teacher that I needed to go to the bathroom and he excused me, and I spent the next few minutes, picking gum out of my hair, which was gross. I made sure to wash my hands well, afterwards, and then went back to class.
I never could understand what drove my classmates to treat me the way they did, because I did nothing to deserve it. If you or your child is being bullied, please tell someone! Bullying has bad results and some people have died from either being physically assaulted or from suicide. Teens take their own lives because they feel they have no way to get away from how they are being treated.
Bullying kills. Don’t do it. It’s not cool to be a bully and hurt others. If you suspect your child is being bullied, do not wait to intervene. Are you or a loved one suffering the effects of bullying? Please comment if you feel comfortable. We would love to hear your story!