Friday, May 22, 2009
When Is It Bullying?
At the IEP meeting this week for my 16 year old son, Corey, a comment shared by one of Corey’s teachers was that Corey had a hard time knowing when his peers were joking around. Corey would take the joking personally and get upset and frustrated.
Corey is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and peer relationships have always been a bit of an issue for him. But, I was seeing a few red flags this time.
The day before the IEP meeting, Corey came up to me as soon as I arrived home from work, and in his typical ‘Corey style’, asked me, “Is it considered assault if someone comes up from behind, pulls back on your throat, and covers your mouth?” I told him yes, that could be considered assault in certain circumstances. He turned and left and appeared not to want to share anymore information.
The IEP meeting comment coming so close to Corey’s question, made me start thinking about bullying. I know most of our school systems are hypersensitive to the issue of bullying, and Corey’s IEP team was very responsive when I broached the subject. But, it just made me wonder. How do you know when joking around becomes bullying?
Normally, I would rely on how my child is feeling – does it feel like joking around or worse than that? But with Corey, and his often inaccurate reading of emotions, I just don’t know.
What are some of the warnings I should be on the lookout for? Have any of you had to deal with bullying and your child with disabilities, and if so, what tipped you off to the fact that it was happening?