Saturday, February 20, 2010

No Bullies?

Aidan has complained about being bullied since he was in Kindergarten. It's the first thing he says when I ask how his day went. They call him names, laugh at him, mock him, push him around, and generally make his life at school a living hell. He's begged, cried, and even faked sick in hopes of getting out of school. The boy will even ask if it's time for his 3 month blood draw to check levels on his epilepsy medicine. He begs to go to the dentist just to avoid the mean kids at school.

Now I do understand that a lot of kids with high functioning autism/asperger's syndrome have trouble with bullies. They are the children we all know who are just enough "off" that we know they're not typical, but aren't all out mentally retarded and therefore off limits for teasing. These kids are the geeky bully magnets. I've always felt pity for my son and begged the teachers to help watch out for him. When these teachers have claimed to have not witnessed any of this behavior, I've questioned how they could have possibly missed it. I've gone as far as arguing with these educators about how poorly anti-bullying laws are truely being enforced.

With Aidan being inpatient his academics are being transfered from the school to the hospital. While speaking with his lead teacher about the move, I ask her what I could do to make sure other kids aren't bullied to the point of wanting to take their own lives. Once again I was told that there has been no bullying. I was stunned! This woman has seemed to truely care about my child, his education, and his well being. How could she, of all people, not have seen this daily torture? Then she informed me that if there was any bullying happening, it was Aidan who was dishing it out and had never complained to her about anyone picking on him.

Nine years into his education I finally heard the teacher. Many had spoken to me over the years, but I never really heard what they were telling me. Aidan percieves that the kids talk about him, laugh at him, and mean him harm when they joke with each other. But what about the bruises? Then I remembered what he said the day he checked in the hospital. When the voices in his head tell him to hurt other people and he doesn't do it, they do "bad things" to him. Aidan told the therapist and I that the hallucinations told him to hurt classmates, but he refused so they kept pushing him up the steps. All this time I just thought he was clumsy. My son is paranoid and delusional on top of the hallucinations.

I felt like such a failure. How could I have not seen this? All of this time Aidan has been fearing his what his own brain is making him believe. Those poor teachers that I left in my wake. We've seen symptoms on and off since Aidan was 5, but I always convinced myself to believe the easiest answer. The bullies had to be doing this, not his paranoia. The teachers just needed to pay attention. The hallucinations were just dreams or imagination like the doctors and therapists kept trying to convince me. He's had all of the symptoms of schizophrenia since he was 5 and I had my head in the sand far to much.

Yes, we are getting him the best help I can find. It just doesn't relieve my guilt. Aidan is doing well tonight. When he first went to the hospital he complained of bullies, but now that his medication is adjusted he has friends. Once again I'm left looking for that silver lining and as usual, it's there. The other kids weren't really picking on my son. The teachers were giving him the attention he needed. I was assuming that the other children were the enemy, but it's really the illness. The bullies aren't bullies, they're friends. Aidan is ill, but he's happy now. We're going to make it, in a happier world without the bullies.

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