Children with neurodiverse struggles become a target for students and teachers. When they began summer, the school teacher bullied Christian, and she allowed the other children to determine his guilt or innocence regarding an incident. She should say, “you work it out,” every time he comes to her with bullying incidents. He didn’t feel safe and did not know how to handle the situation.
I am sure he is not the only child in this situation, nor is this an isolated incident for children with neurodiverse struggles.
This pattern of behavior with the teacher may work with your bullies or neurotypical children. Still, it is unfair and unrealistic to expect that type of understanding from some neurodiverse kiddo.
Neurodiversity can be anything out of the norm for learning or brain development. My son with dyslexia is a neurodiverse learner; he sees things upside down and backward- this is not typical, is not noticeable, and was hard to detect when he was young. Do we expect him to learn the same way as students who do not have dyslexia-NO?
Why do we expect kiddos with sensory, auditory, or other neurodiverse disorders to learn the same way? I suggest it is because teachers do not know or understand some of the struggles with sensory processing disorder or don’t want kiddos out of the norm in their classroom.
When a teacher or parents tells students they can bully, they will. I had witnessed his teacher become rude and talk down to him, demanding an answer when he did not have one to give. If this were an isolated case, that would be different, but I witnessed it several times.
Looking at the neurodiversity of a few clients, I understand that slower working memory tends to make them think slower- it does not mean they don’t know the answer or can’t get to the answer- it just takes time.
If your kiddo has auditory or borderline hearing, they may have misheard it and struggled with what they heard. The longer or more demands you put on them, the slower the answer will become. I know Christian would think the word soup was suit for a long time. This became frustrating and confusing when he was three /four years old.
Neurodiversity or neurodiverse learning is hard for everyone. It is difficult for the kiddos who have no outward symptoms or attributes for others to understand what may be ‘wrong’ with them in times of stress, anxiety, or meltdown.
In our incident and others, I have heard of teachers setting the student’s tone to make or break it in the classroom and for the year.
Virtual learning, homeschool, home-based school, or road school may be the best option if it can be done, but if it can not be accomplished for your kiddo, keeping an eye on what is happening in school and open communication is one way to stay on top of things.
Unfortunately, even when told something has happened at school, we cannot stop it from escalating or continuing. In one incident where someone wrote on the desk, the students banded together with a fear of being left out (crowd mentality) and needed a scapegoat. That incident was our experience, and I am sad to say not an isolated or uncommon incident. His peers were called into the bullying. This set a tone for a pattern of bullying all through 4th grade.
When teachers bully students and are put on trial like Christian’s teacher did, they send an unspoken rule, “you can bully this student” Christian was accused of property damage in the 4th grade.
He told his teacher, “I did not do it,” to no avail. Christian explained, “I was so sad when my teacher did not believe me and put me on trial in front of my classroom peers. My peers said I did it; even my teacher accused me in front of the whole class! The trial was so scary and horrible and charged with property damage.” In this situation, other students knew who had done the property damage but found their scapegoat for the year.
“I did not do it,”; Christian cries as I pick him up from summer school. He reported the situation as we drove home.
Knowing his teacher would not listen and have made up her mind would not change her decision, and now he is on the blacklist- a troublemaker and liar. Confronting her may make things worse for him as she was his summer school teacher and his teacher for the following year.
Not only had she set the tone for his year, peers, and education she also put her mind against him.
On one visit, she said, “well, if he is a D student, we just have to be happy with that,” and “I can’t teach him because he is not keeping up, so I need you to teach him this” while handing me the math books for the year. I caught her yelling at him, bullying him by badgering him, and calling him a liar when I taught him to write cursive. She would act this way and look at me to see if I would say something. It is not my style to bully, intimidate or confront in front her students questioning her authority.
Giving her the impression I would not say anything against her, she would be incorrect, but it would come from his father.
Bullying students who struggle with neurodiversity is not uncommon. They do not have a disability you can pinpoint or take medication for to make the teacher’s day easier—making their day a bit harder does not permit them to choose a class scapegoat.
Christian navigates his day with sensory adaptions he uses to keep out of trouble. He knows some exercises to do on the playground when he has time after lunch to help with the rest of the day, and he can ‘read the room’ honestly; all of that did not stop him from being bullied, assaulted, and failing. We have worked hard at teaching him to advocate for himself when we can’t physically be with him.
The school would say: ‘he just cries a lot, he seems to get hurt a lot, after recess, he always goes to the nurse with a headache or some other problem.” Later we found out he was bullied and assaulted during recess.
We trust that our children are taken care of in school, but who knows what happens inside the school or classroom. Anyone looking at the situation can see something is wrong, but the school never reported anything to his father. When he went to his teacher, he was told,” you have to work it out.”During the summer, he finally broke down at a skate park. We learned the truth and how far the bullying went.
Unfortunately, not all students or kiddos have the training or understanding of emotional regulation, communication, and therapy to help them navigate their world.
This trauma will stay with him his entire life, and he will remember this teacher as the ‘one who put me on trial and never listened’ he also says, “she was in the Navy, so she is mean” these are not great attributes for a teacher or the school who hires this type of teacher.
What do you do when even your teacher accuses you of something you did not do? You fight back even if it ends up getting you into trouble. Christian navigates his emotions when his peers accuse him of doing something he did not do, and he is in a mock trial. He yells, “I did not do it!” Even my teacher accused me in front of the whole class! My peers all ganged up and sided with the popular kids.
This Neurodiverse student uses his skills to help regulate himself and take the high road when put on trial and accused of things he has not done. He can navigate and advocate for himself without emotional breakdowns at this mock trial in a school setting—a massive step after only one year of exercise and training.
However, once the day was over and he was away from his peers and teacher, he told his nana about this trial and did break down. He cried for most of the evening, he struggled to go back to school the next day, and he took tissues with lavender to help him calm down. He is brave in this video as he relives the ordeal and embarrassment, fear, disappointment, and wonder.