For months, I’ve wanted to speak out about people with autism and other neurological disorders and the extremely high rates of victimization and bullying they endure. It’s bad enough that they must go through life struggling with a disability that they neither asked for nor have any control over. It’s even worse that they also struggle with constant cruelty from people in the general population because of that disability.
“A new study finds that children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied for more often than their typically developing peers.” (healthland.time.com)
According to Time Magazine (the above link), 46% of children on the spectrum reported being bullied compared to only 10% of neurotypical kids. And the statistics are estimated to be even higher due to either being nonverbal and the inability to read social cues and therefore, recognize the subtler forms of abuse. No one can report anything they do not know is occurring.
Because of their difficulty reading social cues, having repetitive behaviors, and being highly sensitive to external stimuli, bullies quickly zero in on these perceived weaknesses and see these people as easy prey who are ripe for harassment and degradation. Those with special needs are targeted because of their extreme vulnerability and inability to assert and defend themselves. In the minds of bullies, people with special needs are easy prey.
Bullies get a rush out of the power they wield over their special needs victims because they consciously know they can torment them endlessly and with impunity. They also know that the chances are that no one will stop the abuse, nor speak out for the victim because the sad reality is that most others do not see those who have special needs as “human.” Therefore, bullies take full advantage.
Anyone who intentionally targets a person with special needs is, in my opinion, a coward of the lowest common denominator. Too afraid to go toe to toe with someone of their equal, they seek out victims who are unable to speak for or defend themselves!
Every day, people who are mentally disabled, have Autism/Asperger’s, or Down’s Syndrome are accosted, taunted, physically attacked, or even murdered because they are considered easy targets. Laws must be firmly put in place to protect these people, who are unable to defend themselves. Any crime against people in the above categories should be considered a hate crime because of the high vulnerability and severe disadvantage compared to neurotypical people, which equals a clear-cut imbalance of power.
It’s discrimination, any way you look at it and just as horrible as bullying someone due to age, sex, race, religion, or orientation. Besides, most people in the other five groups at least have the facilities to speak for and defend themselves. They can demand equal treatment. People with special needs can’t, which is why we MUST make those with special needs a protected group!
The neurologically challenged are already fighting a very tough and likely, lifelong battle. Why then do those who are more fortunate wish to make their lives much more complicated than they already are?