Recently Brandon was being teased and bullied by a group of adults in his neighborhood. He told me about it because it was out of his control and he didn’t know what to do.
Over the years, I have had to become a detective to find ways to extract the answers I needed in order to help my son. I have learned what to ask and how to ask it so I could get to the bottom of each issue. I have had years of experience doing this and today it comes quite naturally.
This time, the initial question that uncovered the problem was, Do these people hang out in the same place every day? When Brandon answered yes, I asked him, “Why do you go back there?” He looked at me as if to say you mean I have a choice?
My heart sank. Was my thirty-seven-year-old, independent, autistic son not aware that he had the choice to not return to a place he didn’t want to be? Or did he not know he had the right to walk away if he was being hassled? Or did he just want to fit in so badly that he felt being bullied was better than not having friends?
We spent the next several minutes talking about having choices and what that meant to him. We also talked about his rights. We have talked about all of this before, but he never related it to being teased and bullied so he was unable to access the information when he needed it.
We all learn differently and when we know how to reach our special needs kids or adults the easier it becomes for all of us. I know I cannot assume anything when it comes to Brandon. It is necessary to cover all the bases and to make sure he knows he always has options and choices, but not too many, because it puts him in overload.
I have found the best way to reach and teach my son is to address each situation respectfully. Brandon responds well when being treated well. Don’t we all?