I had nightmares most of last night. While he didn’t know it, nor the cause for it, Little Man had a very rough night himself. How do I know? First off, it took him nearly two hours to finally stay in his room and fall asleep. Second, he was in our bed much earlier in the night than usual, and it was one of those punching/kicking/flopping/yelling out nights for him. The source of my angst? That video of the autistic boy whose “friends” coerced him into participating in the ice bucket challenge, and then proceeded to dump a bucket of feces and urine over him. That visual plagued me all night, and most of today. There’s just a deep hurt hanging around me today for that boy, for his parents, for his real friends, and for all the parents of autistic children who saw the video or heard of it.
My initial reaction was pure righteous anger. How dare they? How dare anyone? Our world has become hyper-sensitive to bullying and yet the bullying seems worse than before. This is one more sign bullying stems from ignorance, as does discrimination. The people who did this to that boy do not seem to be very smart, because they actually posted the video on social media, as if to flaunt their actions. I hope they are punished. My heart wants to see them as humiliated as this poor boy. Would that they had to walk in his shoes for even one day. Would that they knew what it was like to be this young man for even an hour.
My second reaction was pure fear. When you have a child whose behavior identifies him as different, you fear more deeply the potential for bullying and humiliation. My poor child obsesses enough over even the smallest things making his day “bad.” It takes him a very long time to open up and let people in. I can’t begin to imagine what that young man in the video is going through today. He had let these people in. He had trusted them. He thought they were his friends, and then this. You can’t fix that. You can’t make it un-happen. It will be part of him for the rest of his life. I pray he is surrounded by loving family, friends, and caretakers who will help rebuild him. I get tangled up inside thinking about the things that may happen to Little Man in the coming years. He starts middle school next year. I’m terrified already, and that’s a full year away. What if this, or anything similar, happens to him? How will we face it? How will we recover? How will he come back from that?
You can’t see the young man’s face clearly in the video as the bucket of feces and urine pours over him. I can only imagine the shock, and then hurt. It breaks my heart for him, and in some ways, for the people who did that to him. We think we have come so far in teaching tolerance and a willingness to open our minds. This shows we haven’t moved an inch. People will still prey on those who appear weaker than they. Children – and I’m including late teens in that group too – still make fun of those who are different. There is still ignorance and intolerance. Until the day those are gone, I will be fearful for my boy, and angry with those who may humiliate him and other children like him.