Bullying: how to handle it for those on the spectrum

Bullying.

A topic most people have heard about, especially lately with how many stories circulate in the media about teens committing suicide from being bullied.

A topic very close to a lot of people. Ones who have been on the recieving end of it more times than one can count.

A topic that happens to make those with disabilities a very easy target.

Especially for those with autism.

An invisible disability that causes a lack of social cues, lack of awareness, and more naive than the average person.

A neurological disorder that causes a person to be unaware of the fact that their actions can be deemed weird by those that don’t understand.

A simple lack of understanding the world around them causing them to be an easy target.

So how can one with autism handle going through school dealing with bullies? How can one with autism work and dealing with discrimination despite the laws against it in the workplace?

This is where I will discuss those and try to help find ways to handle discrimination on any level.

Bullying At School

Students on the spectrum lack social cognition and ability to take others perspective making them prime targets. The result can be very profound and debilitating for those being bullied.

The different types of bullying are as follows:

  • Manipulative: child is coerced and controlled to do something against their nature
  • Conditional Friendship: friendship alternated with bullying behavior
  • Explotive: features of a child’s condition are used to bully via technology/social media

Forms of Bullying

What people don’t realize, myself included, is bullying takes on multiple forms. But we don’t hear about anything except physical and cyber bullying and don’t realise the other forms are actually considered bullying.

The different forms of bullying are as follows:

  • Verbal Agression: name calling/taunting
  • Social exclusion/isolation
  • Physical agression
  • Racial bullying
  • Sexual bullying
  • Cyber bullying
  • Spreading lies/false rumors
  • Having money/possesions taken
  • Being threatened or forced to do things by aggressor

I have dealt with about half this list during my years in school and a few of these still carried over into the workplace, but that is a discussion for later in this post.

All of this list is ways people on the spectrum don’t realise are actually bullying.

For me, and I am sure I speak on behalf of those with autism, if someone spoke to me at school, even if they treated me terribly, I considered them a “friend” because I didn’t know any better.

The people I considered friends never did anything to help when the bullying happened right in front of them. Teachers never did crap.

I was left to fend for myself.

Sadly, I developed anxiety and depression over the years from all the torment I dealtwith from the time I was 11.

It has been proven through many studies thaf I saw through many days of research on autism, that anxiety and depression become more prevalent when bullying or mistreatment of any kind happens.

Its very sad that this happens. But its the reality of it. A reality that needs to change.

But how can one help if they aren’t even involved in the bullying itself?

Well there are many ways. And honestly, there are many people that are involved in the situation.

The people involved in bullying

There are so many indidviduals that are involved in bullying that not many people realise it. 

The following are a list of those involved:

  • The bully
  • The victim
  • The bystanders
  • Teachers and other professionals
  • Administrators, legislators, and policy makers
  • Parents/caregivers

All of these people have a say in each case of bullying.

Which leads to how can one tell when someone is being bullied.

The Signs of Bullying 

This list is what to look out for in case you are suspicious your child is dealing with bullying:

  • Reluctance to attend school
  • Emotionally sensitive behavior: anxiety
  • Change in daily routines: diet and sleeping patterns
  • Torn clothing, damages clothes or other items
  • Cuts or bruises
  • Decline in academic performace

Now time to talk about how bullying and disabilities is truly a thing that needs to end.

An article I read that I got all this information from, the first link at the end of the post, did a study and the results are sad and sickening.

Chilredn with disabilities are two to three times more likely to bullied.

Children who are on the spectrum are even more likely because of their communication skills, motor skills, and social cognition.

With that being said, institutions are a double edged sword. On one side, it helps those with autism learn how to handle people. The flip side is it makes them an easy target to be bullied.

A survey in 2009 was conducted, asking parents their thoughts on their child with autism and how bullying affected them.

  • 65% reported their child with Asperger’s had been vicitmized in the past year
  • 47% reported being hit by peers or siblings
  • 50% reported being scared by peers
  • 9% reported being attacked by a gang and hurt in private parts
  • 12% had a child not invited to a birthdau party
  • 6% picked last for teams
  • 3% ate alone at lunch everyday

Ways to Prevent Bullying (dos and don’ts)

There are many things that will and won’t work on how to handle preventing bullying.

Ways that Work 

  • School climate change
  • Safe ways to report
  • Focus on all types of bullying
  • Peer support networks
  • Focus on rolw of bystanders
  • Adults model supportive relationships
  • Active parent involvment

Ways that Don’t Work

  • Individual counseling
  • Accepting bullying as normal
  • Focusing on only physical aggression
  • Zero tolerance policies
  • Isolated events (lectures)
  • Stigmatizing victims
  • Adults modeling intimidation, anger, power

Now comes the topic where all this kiddos on the spectrum will have to deal with once they are old enough.

Workplace discrimination.

A topic that onlt gets talked about for men and women being equal in this environment.

Not those with disabilities.

Originally, I wasn’t going to add this topic in here. But over the course of the year, I’ve dealt with some form of it that I felt it necessary to talk about it.

Its a topic that needs to be discussed. And the surprising amount of people that deal with disability discrimination is crazy. Especially with the study I researched for those that have autism.

A study and poll were done by the National Autism Society(NAS) to showcase how bad this is. 

More than 1/3 of adults with autism have been bullied or discriminated against at work. The survey done on this condition was the largest ever, showing how much it can affect someone on the spectrum.

According to a poll done by NAS, 43% said they left or lost a job because of their autism.

43% of people with autism in this poll alone. The numbers are definitely higher, considering there are many unreported cases.

With these findings, NAS highlights the lack of support for people with autism in the workplace and the lack of awareness of the condition among employers and colleagues.

A poll for the charity’s 50th birthday back in 2012 found only 10% of adults with autism in paid employment recieve support from their employers, while 53% say they would like it.

This charity wants employers to support employees with autism so that they have the opportunity to makea valuable contribution to society like everyone else.

David Perkins, manager of Prospects, the NAS’s employment service, talks about the discrimination and bullying that happens when those with autism aren’t hired.

In a nutshell, he says “employers are failing to put a reasonable support in place to keep adults with autism in work and off benefits.” He also wants “employers to make sure their offices have an ‘autism-friendly’ ethos, otherwise we risk failing thousands of willingand able workers.”

Those on the spectrum who were employeed gave their insight.

32% said the support or adjustments made bt their employer or manager related to their autism were poor.

30% complained the support or adjustments had been poor.

38% said the suitability of the work environment in relation to their autism was poor.

19% said they had no experience of bullying, unfairness, or lack of support at work.

For me, management where I work has been fantastic at being able to allow me whatever I need for my autism. They understand I sometimes need to walk away and have time to deal with my issues when they arise.

Its the work environment and colleagues I have that make it hard for me.

One woman from London, Valerie Carlin, had been recently diagnosed with autism at the time the article was written where I recieved this information. She had been out of work for 3 years from leaving her career because of bullying at work.

The problem?

She was socially excluded, ignored, and no one would try to give her any work to do no matter how good at the job she was.

So, now that you have all that information, what are ways to help prevent workplace bullying and discrimination?

Trying to find to information on how to handle it was basically nonexistent.

Every site I went to was either talking about how companies in America have to follow the American Disability Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which both are supposed to protect those with disabilities in the workplace in all levels of government, or personal stories of how those with autism were affected when coming out as autistic to their employers.

Most, if not all, stories had negative results when they made the move to say they had autism. Most aren’t able to move up the professional ladder because of it, which brings up two very valid points that were brought up.

Why does the media get involved in bad mouthing and spreading lies about autism and why does this have to affect those with autism trying to be open about wanting to break the stigma?

Questions that the answers cab only be hypothesized about and onlt time will tell when things will change for the better.

Sadly, workplace discrimination is harder to deal with than school bullying, but both are always going to be a challenge.

I just hope one day the stigma can go away and the equallity for those with disabilities will be available.

https://www.autismsociety.org/bullying.php

htrps://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/autistic-adults-being-bullied-and-not-supported-at-work-poll-shows-7743517.html

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Topic of interest soon to come

As of late, with all the unnecessary drama and mistreatment added to my work, an idea came up. 

I really need to writ a post about why those on the spectrum are more inclined to be bullied than others.

Those who read this that have autism, are raising a child with it or have extended family on the spectrum, this topic will come in handy and quite frankly, you may want to tune in and save it.

The information I have been finding is more alarming than I ever thought it would be. Once I get everything put together and posted it needs to be read. 

As we know, bullying is an ongoing problem. Not just for those with autism or other disabilities, but as a whole. Social media doesn’t make it any better. In fact, and tons of studies prove it, social media had made things worse. 

This is one topic I’m very passionate about. I grew up being bullied and still get it in the workplace.  

Unfortunately, the workplace is so bad I’m ready to quit. But I’m trying to hold it together to find a new job necks quitting.

So in the next few days, look for a post about bullying. I promise it will be worth the read.

Holiday Dinner Update

So tonight was a drama disaster.

Serving food went as well as could be expected.

Everything else behind the scenes?

Anything that could go wrong was going wrong.

People almost walked out because of our dining services director.

One person put their 2 weeks in.

From the time I got there, residents were still making last minute reservations when they had a cut off date a week prior. And because we had the numbers from the cut off date, we ordered barely enough food for tonight.

For those just tuning in or have forgotten, I work in a retirement home.

Tensions were higher than normal tonight.

I almost walked out. I couldn’t take all the drama.

But I stuck it out.

I just have to hold out until I find a new job.

The Holiday Season

Now that Thanksgiving is over and all of December is filled with holidays, things at my job are starting to get crazy.

Between having a bunch of catering events to having our big annual holiday dinner tomorrow, it gets pretty chaotic at times.

Mostly during our holiday dinner.

Last year I got oddly overwhelmed and I’ve never been like that before. I feel like it could have been something as simple as that’s when all my anxiety started to get crazy high.

I’m really hoping this year I can remain calm and get through it no problem like I have in years past. Because in all honesty, its really not that hard of a night. Its just a matter of waiting to serve people that’s a pain.

I just really hope everything turns out really well. Management tends to get pretty stressed about it because they all want it to be perfect for the residents and their guests.

Which I can understand wanting that but it can’t always happen.

If we can just go with the flow and let it happen how it should, everything will be just fine!

Autism: an invisible disability

I saw someone repost a blog about how the original blogger has 2 children on the spectrum and what it does for those on the outside looking in.

And it kind of reinspired me to want to bring up the topic of how invisible disabilities, like autism, get looked at as nonexistent, or just people using excuses or whatever else someone decides to say about them.

And I just want to bring up ways it can make the person or family feel when you make weird glances or crude comments you wouldn’t realize can be very painful.

There are certain things that have happened to me that have been considered offensive.

Yes majority of them happened while i was still in school and didn’t know how to properly defend myself.

Now a days, I’ve had workplace mistreatment.

Not so much lately because the omes who caused it either aren’t talking to me anymore or are having their own struggles.

The things I have been told over the years are not too great.

In middle school, it was your typical bullying stories you hear on the news. Not nearly as bad but bad enough to where it affected my mental and emotional health years later.

High school wasn’t as bad but still there. A year after graduation, someone had the audacity to cyberbully me saying I was retarded and the whole school could tell by looking at me.

This person barely knew me, only through mutual friends at best, and still decided to say that. Even claimed my disability was considered retardation.

The first job I had wasn’t great. I know people bad mouthes ne behind my back. Fast food is like that sadly. What they said I can only imagine and I really don’t think I ever want to know.

The job I have now?

I’ve had people say I’m too normal to have autism. Or I’m too intelligent to have a disability. I even had one person stoop so low to say, after I had hit my head, that its ok because I don’t have anything going on up there anyway.

I’ve had countless people tell me that anxiety is all in my head or decide to give me a harder than normal time because of it. 

The only thing people haven’t bullied me for was depression.

Why?

Because I feel people understand that better than anything else. 

There are so many people out there that refuse to understand how any type of invisible disability can really affect someone.

And a lot of times it makes me feel like I did something wrong by trying to be open about having these problems to avoid the stigma behind them.

I may only be one person but I really am dead set on helping change the stigma no matter how long it takes.

I am no less human than anyone else.

I have the ability to do most things that others can.

So why knock someone down?

The more people do, the more it fuels me to prove them wrong.

Bullying is the worst double edged sword.

Maybe one day this blog will grow bigger and people will understand that we are no less human than the next. 

Just humans with unique abilities.

Positive Influence on a Negatively Heavy World

Since starting up melatonin, I, for the most part, started truly seeing the positive side of life instead of just dreaming about it and being plagued by constant demons day in and day out.

Yes, I have allowed room for setbacks since it is virtually impossible for one to ever obtain perfection.

Yes, as a whole, most negative thoughts have disappeared.

But how can one person influence positivity on a negatively affected world?

This is something I have thought about lately. Something that makes me wonder if it truly is possible to achieve.

I question myself a lot on if I am truly making a good impact on someone’s life. If I am actually someone that people truly want to be around.

Or if I am just wondering if having autism, anxiety and on and off depression issues is blinding me.

90% of me will always say my anxiety runs rampid in my head.

The other 10%? Somehow that portion of me keeps thinking I need to be “perfect” despite knowing its not possible.

I will always admit I am very flawed.

But I will always wonder, am I actually making a positive difference in someone’s life?

Am I achieving little by little what I always felt like I was set out to do?

Questions only to be answered by those who choose too.

I always hope I have, in some way, changed someone’s life for the better.

This world needs more positive.

I know I speak for a lot of people when I say the negativity needs to be done.

I just hope I am making that difference towards more positivity.

 

Thankful

This is my 2 day late what I’m thankful for post. Although is it really ever too late?

To start, I’m thankful I was able to spend the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. As a whole, it was a fairly decent day.

The only downfall waa both my grandparents weren’t feeling to well. Luckily, they had a few people around to help them out.

Second, I am very thankful for my hockey team. They have allowed people who have disabilities, like myself, to be able to come together and be a part of something greater.

They have become like a second family and have done so many great things for myself and everyone else on my team. And have allowed me to gain some great friends and meet some amazing people.

Third, I am very thankful for the opportunities that have presented themself at my job. I have had great opportunity to grow and learn some amazing life lessons from there.

Although it may not be the greatest job, I am glad its there everyday. And that I am able to help make a difference in some way.

Third, I am very thankful for those who recommended the use of melatonin. It has been an amazing game changer for me and couldn’t havr asked for a better mood stabilizer, anxiety decreaser, and positivity inducer.

Fourth, I am thankful for the ability to be able to be a role model for those on my hockey team and whoever I meet throughout my life. 

I hope, in some way, I am able to change someone’s life, even if its only for a brief moment. 

Which I’m hoping can help get me to finally go back to school for recreational therapy.

Rec therapy, for those who don’t know, is basically using someone’s hobbies as a way to help make someone feel happier. That is my goal job/degree and I hope I can get back to school for it.

Lastly, I am thankful for every person who helped start up this blog and for every follower and reader who has helped me achieve my reality of making autism more well known.

Thank you to every single one of you for all you have done and trying to help me grow this blog.

You all are awesome!

Melatonin: The Sleeping Aid, and maybe more, for Autism

I briefly touched on Melatonin a couple posts ago and how I started taking it.

This post is going to be an in depth look at what melatonin can do for the autism brain.

Does it only affect sleep?

Can it affect overall behavior?

Does it truly help those on the spectrum?

All these will be answered in this post.

And I am hoping that it can help those who aren’t familiar with melatonin and have wondered if it will work for their child, or themselves.

I shall add though, I am not trying to say everyone should take it or that because it works for me you should automatically take it. Please also consult a doctor even if research and this post are showing the good sides of what it does.

Now that I have that out of the way, its time to get down to business.

The imformation from this post comes from Spectrum News.

Most people, especially those on the spectrum, deal with sleep issues – falling and staying asleep. Anyone who suffers from poor sleep exacerbates behavioral problems, which leaves thr individuals and families exhausted.

Melatonin, a hormone usually produced by the body that regulates the sleeping and waking cycle, is a popular sleep aid and is sold over-the-counter in the United States.

Over the past decade, a string of studies suggested melatonin helps to improve sleep in those with autism.

Although a good portion of studies only use a few dozen children, one study, in particular, involved 134 children on the spectrum.

Researchers released thr clinical trial results of 125 children on the spectrum using a new melatonin product called PedPRM. 

These pills release melatonin slowly into the bloodstream and the first formulation developed by a pharmaceutical company.

Of the 56 who took this pill, 38 saw improvement. The other 61 took a placebo and 12 saw improvement.

Beth Malow, professor of neurology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said “It would ve great if ultimately we could figure ouy which kids are going to be responsive to melatonin versus which ones are going to need stronger medications.” This was a response to how the current trial-and-error approach to identifying the children who benefit from melatonin.

When it comes to sleep problems occuring, doctors will prescribe behavioral strategies, like following a bedtime routine or avoiding stimulating drinks, video games and television close to bedtime. Melatonin may be addes to the mix if the routine doesn’t work. 

Malow recommends starting with 1mg and moving up to 3mg if the child doesn’t improve.

The one thing to be careful with is, since melatonin is considered a supplemennt rather than a drug, that melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA and its not always clear what the pills sold in shops contain. Melatonin itself is generally safe though.

Under the precise dosage section in the article, it gives a study about the melatonin sold in stores. It gives insight on what to look out for when considering using melatonin. Please click the link at the end of this post for further information. It is very useful.

In the final section of the article, biological basis, it mentions some key parts in why those with autism have issues with melatonin.

One cause is somr people with autism carru mutations in an enzyme involved in melatonin production and supplements with melatonin may increase thr levels in these people.

An example is a new trial was done with four children who have Smith-Magenis Syndrome, a rare condition related to autism. Some evidence suggests people with the syndrome have an inverted melatonin rhythm.

This means melatonin is at peak during the day as opposed at night. This may explain why these children responded well to the pill.

As for low levels of melatonin in older children with autism, its a mix. A 2012 study of teenagers with was done and found less levels of melatonin in their urine, compared to typical teenagers, during the day and night. Two years later, another study showed no difference in melatonin levels between those with autism and controls. 

Malow mentions that more needs to be done in terns of studying melatonin deficiency levels and that its a jump to conclude that’s the case.

As far as research goes, I feel like more needs to be to be able to tell what does truly cause melatonin levels to be insufficient in those witb autism. 

Yes the article I read was great at providing some evidence as to what does happen to those who take it. But its still a long way from knowing why those with autism have lower levels and why do some react better than others.

I hope this helps those understand what can and can’t happen with melatonin.

For me, as far as falling alseep goes, it works really well but only if I take it within 2 hours of when I want to fall asleep and I tend to be asleep for longer amounts of time. 

My behavior has gotten better, I am loads happier than I used to be, my anxiety has gotten LOADS better and I am so much more positive than I used to be.

A good example of my anxiety levels decreasing is Thanksgiving 2017. Almost every holiday, my family goes to my grandparents house for a gathering and a big meal with a lot of my cousins and aunts and uncles.

Most of the time I get bad anxiety and usually don’t get relaxed until everyone is about to leave.

Well Thanksgiving this year, I didn’t have one bad moment of anxiety at all throughout the day, was very relaxed and more myself.

It was the best experience to not have any anxiety at all.

So I feel like melatonin is a great advantage for me. But I don’t know if everyone else will have the same results.

https://spectrum.org/news/melatonin-gains-momentum-sleep-aid-people-autism/

Social anxiety and Autism

This came about because today, for the first time in months, I am breaking out of my shell and hanging out with a couple people.

Not only am I hanging out but we are going out to eat, which is what inspired my post.

I have this thing that causes me great distress related to social anxiety and its related to eating.

This will sound really weird to those who don’t understand but I get so anxious when I do something with people that involves eating, I don’t want to actually eat.

This lead me to look up if this is an actual condition.

I looked at 2 different sites, one related to social anxiety and eating disorders, the other being autism, social anxiety and eating disorders.

When it came to autism and food, I really don’t fit the mold of people on the spectrum with eating disorders.

Its a really weird thing where some on the spectrum have issues with either new food being on the table, trying a new food, or even something as simple as the texture of a food.

The second link in this post goes into greater detail.

I used to, growing up, judge foods by their name because I thought theywere gross. That was broken the older I got and when I started working around foods all the time. I got used to trying new things and its worked really well.

Now with just social anxiety and eating disorders, that was one where I thought I stood some sort of chance.

While reading it, there were a couple criteria for having social anxiety that I fit. But that didn’t shock me.

What shocked me was that I don’t have anything that fits what I deal with. I kinda feel crazy not knowing what I have or if anyone else has what I have.

I wish I could get answers to this for thesake of closure.

If anyone knows anything about this, please feel free to share. I want to try and avoid an anxiety attack or feeling out of place not eating in these situations.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-food-is-family/201209/eating-disorders-and-social-anxiety
http://www.asperger-training.com/autistic-spectrum-conditions-anxiety-disorders/

Melatonin and its affects on autism

This week, I started taking melatonin to see if it would help my sleep. 

Needless to say this week has been an interesting trial week. 

As far as sleep goes, certain days have been better than others. That was bo different than before.

As for my overall well being?

I have noticed a HUGE difference.

I’ve only had one bad day of anxiety since I started and my overall happiness has improved greatly.

The only downside is my adhd symptoms have come out more and I’m a bit more clumsy than I used to be.

As far as my happiness goes, its different to see the drastic change in me. I’m even more easy going than normal. Things that used to bother me aren’t anymore. I’m handling stress so much better than I used too. And I’m starting to see a lot more positive in things than I used too.

Just yesterday, my job had an outside company come in to do a mock inspection for when we have a real one and what to look for so that we can be prepared. 

For those who forgot or are now just starting to read my posts, I work in a retirement home, or long term care facility/nursing facility for those who don’t go by that.

Normally when we have this mock inspections, my anxiety starts up and I get stressed like crazy. For the first time, I can say I was the calmest I have ever been.

That is a very big improvement for me, thanks to melatonin. 

With that being said, yes it has been an interesting week but there have been certain things I should have done before actually buying it.

Researching it more im depth would have helped me tremendously. I accidently took a slighty higher dosage than what is recommendednn especially for it being the first time taking it.

Most sites have recommended 1 to 3mg and I grabbed 5. A small handful did say 5 was still safe but people shouldn’t go higher unless recommended by a doctor.

A few sites I have looked at that were geared towards people on the spectrum taking it said it is very effective for behaviorial changes and most have had very good luck with using it for sleep.

One site I looked at said melatonin is very good for those who have some sort of neurlogical disorder. That site can be found at the end of this post for further reading.

I personally found the article to be a good read because it gave the pros and cons of taking it.

For me, it still may be too soon to tell the long term affects of it but I now know that when I go back to buy that a lower dosage is what I should grab. 

And that doing research beforehand should have been done.

https://www.emaxhealth.com/11406/melatonin-use-autistic-children-does-it-actually-help