Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2015 - Page 48

It’s not enough for kids & teens to simply feel safe. They also need to feel that their dignity, their sense of self-worth, is intact and protected. In the discussion about bullying, we often focus on awareness and preventative measures, which is great. But it’s also important for adults to establish guidelines for their own responses. When kids are bullied, it’s a terrible thing, but after the bullying events, kids can be even more vulnerable. That’s when their minds are trying to make sense of the situation, and that’s when they need to be protected from their own fears and selfdoubts. So what do you as a parent do when you find out that your child has been bullied? In situations like this, adults need to ask themselves two questions before they say or do anything: 1) Will your reaction cause your child to feel judged? 2) Will your response inadvertently make the bullied individual feel at fault? Questions like these need to be an ongoing part of the discussion. Interventions may be necessary, but proper timing is a crucial element if they are going to be effective. Good plans can go wrong if they leave kids feeling confused and uncertain about their own roles in these situations. Bottom line: how an adult responds to a child or teen after a bullying incident can have as much impact as the bullying itself. We have to get these things right because it’s not enough for kids and teens to simply feel safe. They also need to feel that their dignity – their sense of self-worth – is intact and protected. M. Kelter writes about life on the autism spectrum at his blog, Invisible Strings. You can visit his Twitter and Facebook page, where positive discussions with an active parent community are ongoing. He has been a guest contributor for Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation blog and The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. 48 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses