Monday, April 26, 2010

From The Perspective Of Autism & Other Neurological Disabilities - The Horrible Thing About Being *Different*

The horrible thing about being *different* is you try to behave properly and be kind to everyone you meet, and treat people with respect and be civil, and then - Whamo, out of the clear blue, some group of other people start bullying you, shoving you around, pushing you hard, hitting you, any number of things even worse than that I just won't say in case anyone is having breakfast or dinner right now.

These kind of attacks on us by which others who gang-together to attack us to convey (to us) that we are *different*, started for me as far back as I can remember - on or maybe just before pre-Kindergarden. By third grade, they were so bad, and so vicious, I had to play on the "Boy's Playground" because the girls were ganging and leaving me cuts and abrasions. A principle reason the girls hated me, was because I liked to line up my plastic Breyer horses, and didn't like all the Barbie doll dressy-talkie stuff they liked to play with.

By sixth grade, when I got the privilege of being on "Safety Patrol" (helped kids cross streets), I had to watch out going to and from the school grounds to my posts, because some of the gangs of other girls would (by sixth grade) unite with a couple boys, too and would lie in ambush to jump me and beat me up. Because I was *different* and odd and weird to them, even though I kept trying to be nice.

When I moved to NY, 7th grade, my first day there, the neighborhood kids ganged together and started shouting "Hey retard" at me from a distance. Even my teachers gleefully joined in, parading me constantly in front of the class to make me write or speak and repeat words "for punishment" because I was *different*, with everyone including the teacher acting together with the other kids mocking and laughing at me. Sometimes they also threw wads of paper at me, gum wads, and spitballs while I was ordered by the teacher to undergo the humiliation.

In eighth grade, some teachers ordered me to go outside at recess on the playground, and about 30-40 7th & 8th grade boys gang-jumped me and started hitting me, grabbing my female parts, and ripped off my clothes - tearing a dress my mom made for me because we were so poor due to her scraping all our money for horse riding therapy to try to stop my neurological problems - the imbalances and problems holding pens, tying shoe laces, holding forks, little flailing arms and hand movements, and loss of balance now and then wobbles when I walked, that made others identify and bully me for being weird and *different*. While this happened, I saw another 40-50 kids and teachers watching from upstairs windows - pointing and LAUGHING AT MY PLIGHT.

Then, between 7th & 8th grade, my pony ran me under our porch and hit my head at a gallop, and I got my first TBI on top of the neurological problems I had before. Even before that, I could NOT decipher faces or what the moving eyebrows and mouth shapes meant, or the hand movements, and others always got so angry because I could never seem to stand or be in the right place (body location) in relation to them. Sometimes I got hit, when I have no idea what I did wrong that got them so mad because of where I stood or sat or where my eyes or hands went or movements they made.

The attacks were so bad, I felt like going through a war zone everytime I had to ride the school bus. One day on the way home, I was just walking to my house, when this kid, Billy LeFurgy, who was in 12th grade when I was in 9th, came along, just grabbed me, shoved my head into a snowbank, and tried to hold me there unable to breathe shouting "die." Because I was *different*.

At the horse barns when they learned I could ride, and in University when some learned I was intelligent, they didn't treat me so bad, and actually tried to help me. I worked beyond my neurological abilities and hung on so hard until I got my degrees, so I could have a chance to have independence and a real life. But, the bullying never really goes away. It is everywhere neurologically disabled people turn in all walks of our Society.

One day, when hubby was sick with a high fever, (pre-right foot injury), he asked me to walk down Clearwater Beach about a mile to get him some orange juice. I was just walking there, and came around a corner, and there were 8 girls & two boys about freshman college undergrad age, taking pictures - until they spotted eyesight of me. Then they started shouting "Hey retard, Yeah you - hey you retard, ugly retard, come over here." I tried to walk on by, but they started throwing things at me, and trying to bully and pick a fight. Fortunately, I managed to cross the street, and some bicyclists cut them off, and I managed to mingle into some other elderly pedestrians. Another time, hubby and I were leaving the Hillsborough County Law Library downtown Tampa, and a group of others actually zigged and zagged to walk up to him and say "hi," and crossed the street to avoid me -- just by my neurological looks alone (I had not said one word, and I had never seen them before).

Most of my followers follow my almost daily saga of being bullied and attacked, and I'm just talking about all this - relating this horrible part of my life, because I have even been slapped hard in the face and hit for not being able to handwrite "properly." Form the letters "right" or do it fast enough or control my hand and fingers on the pen I am holding.

Folks out there need to know that bullying AUTISM people and people with ANY kind of neurological disability or, indeed, ANY person with a disability is NOT "Okay."

We start suffering the ABUSE & BULLYING targeting us for being *different* at a very young age - as soon as others who prefer "sameness" and "normality" start noticing we are *different* and go on "kill" - "maim" - "injure" - or "torture" the AUTISM person social-group gang attacks against us for what we sit there bewildered it is we did "wrong."

Adults with Autism and people with other early childhood brain injuries and cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities need to start "coming out of the closet" and talking about the bullying and abuse attacks on us just for being *different*.

Whether we are a 3 year old who suffered hypoxia during birth, or have AUTISM, or are an elderly American with a stroke, there is NO excuse for a Society that allows these PERVASIVE ABUSE-BULLYING-attacks & persecution to be done to an innocent, severely disabled *different* population of neurologically disabled people, who move *different* / speak *different* / read *different* / write *different* / use *different" tools to do all of those things / use a *different* mix of senses and modalities to perceive and respond to the World and other people / and/or enjoy *different* objects, things, and interests rather than gossiping (wasting employer's time) around the coffee machine.

We are, as a neurologically disabled group of Americans, your child, your mother, your sports instructor, and we write your music, paint your galleries, invent your scientific and mathematical equations, engineer your buildings. Some of us even build cities and remarkable bridges and other engineering feats of science.

We don't deserve this CRIMINAL level of abuse and human rights violations and violations of our right to respect and dignity, equality, independence, and freedom that we have the right to access and enjoy same as everyone else.

We are NOT going to be silent ! We can and WILL speak out about these facts of our existence. Our struggle for a better tomorrow and for acceptance and the right to live free in peace is NOT going away - you can kill a person, but you can't stop an IDEA of Freedom whose Time has arrived on the Autism spectrum and in the World.

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