There’s this video floating around the internet of an 11-year-old boy with autism, who has somehow become stuck in his chair at school. The video was recorded by the student’s teacher, on her cell phone. In the video you can hear the teacher mocking the student and even asking at one point, “Do you want to get tasered?”. The child’s fifth grade peers are all present during the entire filming. The teacher emailed and sent the video to other teachers and some of her friends.
I have seen this video posted at least a dozen times in the past two days by news sources and autism organizations that I follow on social media. Even a local Maine news station posted it on their Facebook page today asking the question, “Bullying or not?”.
Can someone please explain to me why that is even a question?
It strikes a chord with me. Anytime I see a child with autism being mistreated I immediately picture my own child in that position. A child with autism doesn’t always understand social nuances. They also generally have difficulties with problem solving and motor planning. There is definitely extra concern with these difficulties. However, it’s not the autism that makes this a case of bullying. Take away the disability and you would have a typical child, who would still require a certain level of respect from his teacher.
This teacher used her position of power to belittle this child in front of his peers. She is taunting him. In this day and age where we are stressing to our children about the effects of cyber bullying, this teacher is standing in front of her classroom teaching her students how to do so.
I’ve read a lot of comments over the past two days that say we don’t know the full story. But the thing is, there isn’t a story that would make this teacher’s behavior acceptable.
This isn’t about a disability. This doesn’t matter if the child was being a stubborn brat before the video. It doesn’t matter if he is a difficult child and she is at her wit’s end.
I have a child who could be deemed difficult by some. I work with children every day who are labeled with autism, ADHD, behavior difficulties, etc. I’ve had hard days. I’ve had days where I was spit on, bit, hit, and so on and never in a million years would I stoop so low to mock the child. Not because I’m some sort of superwoman, but because I am a decent human being and possess a little thing called empathy.
And even though it’s obvious I think there is a clear answer to this question, I ask it of you as well, “Bullying or not?”.