Monday, April 19, 2010

Back off, bully

On Friday, I read a moving blog post about one woman's experiences with bullying as a child. So the subject matter was already rattling around in my head that afternoon when I was chatting with one of Blink's PCAs, who works as a paraprofessional in his school.

Blink has struggled with bullying this year. And I have struggled to know how to react in the face of Blink's own issues with emotional control and his challenges in deciphering social situations.  I've talked with his teacher quite a bit about this issue and have been assured that things are much, much better. The last time I asked, his teacher told me that Blink often acts in ways that alienate the other children. Sigh.

Anyhow, Blink hasn't mentioned much about teasing or bullying lately and so I thought perhaps the school had finally gotten things under control, until I heard from Blink's PCA that she and other staff have observed children teasing Blink under the supervision of a paraprofessional...WHO DID NOT INTERVENE. I guess it was that classic sing-song name-calling kind of teasing.  She told me she'd seen Blink exercise tremendous self-control and time and again, the staff not intervene until he had made a fist or otherwise signaled that he was at the breaking point.  She felt they weren't paying attention until it hit that threshold.


I took Blink to lunch, just the two of us, yesterday to discuss this with him. I tried to tell him that as hard as we've been working on teaching him to be safe around others, that other people have to be safe around him, because we ALL deserve to be safe. Blink confirmed it's going on -- I think he's somewhat resigned to it now, sadly -- but he couldn't really tell me who was doing this. (I've noticed he has trouble identifying which child in a group did something.)  I talked to Blink about what he could say to a teacher when this is going on and he told me that telling the teacher would make it worse, because they would do it louder and that would be more embarrassing if the whole class heard.  This stuff is hard.

Harder still because I'm guessing all of the kids involved have special needs of some kind.

I need to talk to Blink's teacher about this, again.  But at what point is talk not enough? How can I trust the school's assurances that they have it under control? It's not like I can count on Blink to tell me what is what. We have just over two months left at this school. So short and yet so long.

What would you do?

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