My blogs are not as regular as I would like but they can take a lot out of me and take a lot of time for me to write them, but I am aware I must keep at them if I am to continue raising awareness and possibly making life some little bit easier for people with Autism and their families also. This is a blog that has taken me a few attempts but hopefully you will find it useful and that it will help you to be more understanding of people who might have a challenge in life, be it Autism or not, and avoid immediately judging them and writing them off before you even get to know them. If you have kids, you should talk to them about people’s differences and how its ok to be different don’t allow them to grow up so narrow minded it won’t do them any good in life. How boring the world would be if we were all the same.
I was bullied in school, so this is about my personal experience, it’s about how the bullies made me feel but also how my experience in dealing with the bullies has shaped me to be the person I am today. I am not going to get personal and name those people as the people who carried out the bullying know who they are, and I have nothing to achieve by doing so. The school in which the bullying took place was St Benildus College in Stillorgan, Dublin.
Just one example of what happened to me was when some students made a fake social media account using a teacher’s name from Benildus, they would put comments on the fake page saying stuff like “I’m pretty sure Adam O’Brien lives in green acres Dundrum I saw him walking in there one day or could have been someone else with Down Syndrome what’s the difference”, what is the difference anyway so what if I have Downs Syndrome or Autism it really doesn’t matter we are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. A comment like that reflects so badly on the people who made it, but as someone already struggling with my diagnosis this and other comments affected me extremely badly.
From day one in the school everyone knew I was different, I had a special needs assistant who sat right beside me, I felt crowded and different. Despite the school having so much help and support from the Lucena clinic, special needs co-ordinator, from the dept of education, and even my old teachers from my primary school trying to educate the school on how I could be integrated and supported very little was taken on board. A simple piece of advice given to the teacher responsible for special needs in the school was to have a chat with the class, introduce the SNA as a class room assistant and that their role is to give Adam some extra help. But for some reason this did not happen, today I wonder what qualification’s and experience even my SNA had at this time because her presence made the bullying worse for me.
I know I am not the only one to be bullied in this school and that it can happen anywhere, but I don’t believe Benildus had the proper procedures in place to prevent me being bullied nor did my teachers have the skills to manage it when it happened to me. I would not like to think that the same thing could happen today to another student in Benildus or in any other school around the country, I wish I could be more optimistic and say it would not happen, but I can’t.
I felt sad and lonely and did not understand why I was being targeted. I became anxious and depressed and I started to self-harm. I was put on medication to help me but anyone that knows me well knows that medication was not for me then. Don’t get me wrong medication does work for people but in my situation not for me. Why should I take medication to deal with something that should not be happening to me in the first place? It was the bullies who needed to stop and change their behaviour not me, I had no one in school that I could go and talk to about how I was feeling. I could not sleep at night, I felt sick every morning and I did not want to go to school. Eventually I stopped going to school and had home education until I went to my new school Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock, Dublin. Once I left that school I stopped the medication and have not been back on it since.
Although I would not wish bullying on anyone I know I am a stronger person because of how I learnt to deal with it, I have learnt who I can trust and how I should not judge someone no matter what the so called differences they have and through this I have made great friends, something I never had in school.