November 23, 2017

Sticks and Stones

(Written by: Shelly Hester)

I am the mother of an Autistic daughter, Jessica. She was diagnosed when she was four years old.

I knew she was different than her older sister and she had some eccentricities but I knew nothing about Autism.

When she started Pre-K, her teacher picked up on certain signs that something was different with her. They had her tested and I sought a private doctor to test her as well.

The first diagnosis was PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. It falls under the Autism Spectrum.

That is usually the diagnosis given to young children because they may or may not “grow out” of certain behaviors. When she reached the age of seven or eight, she was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.

I could write a book about the experience of raising and protecting a child like Jessica. I have many stories that would make you laugh, cry, think and be grateful for the blessings you have in your own life.

It has not been easy, by no means. It’s hard to make people understand that “Spare the rod and spoil the child” DOES NOT work with Autistic children.

Spanking only makes it worse, much worse. They don’t understand that as discipline, they see it only as violence, period!

She had horrible screaming episodes and, many times, I had no idea what caused it. She was verbal, fortunately, but she used language in such an odd way that it was hard to understand what she was talking about.

I persisted in my quest to learn as much about this disorder as possible and learn as much about Jessica as possible.

I would constantly ask questions until I would finally get to the root of what was causing her such distress. I learned to interpret the odd phrases and, finally, understood what she was trying to say.
Let me give you some insight into my daughter. She isn’t perfect, by no means but she doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body.

She sees something beautiful in everyone she meets. How many of us can say that? She loves to tell wild and vivid stories and she writes them down too. She is so innocent and beautiful. It’s like looking into the face of God, himself.

If she hurts someone, emotionally or physically, it is most definitely by accident. She will completely freak out if she knows that she has caused pain to another person.

She is lonely. She just wants to be accepted by her peers but most of them reject her and go so far as to taunt her and bully her.

They tell her she smells like a sewer! She is currently seeing a doctor for possible structural abnormalities to her urinary system.

She has accidents sometimes and it makes her an even bigger target. She is a little chubby and has acne, yet another excuse for cruel words from other children.

She walks patterns and moves in odd ways, which draws attention to herself. Why doesn’t she just stop, you ask? She can’t because it’s a part of who she is.

We all have our quirks. Jessica’s quirks happen to be more obvious, therefore, easier to target.

She comes home and cries a lot. I cry with her. Seeing your child in pain and not being able to fix it is the most horrible and helpless feeling in the world.

Bullying is NOT just kids being kids. It does not go away when they get older. Child bullies often become adult bullies if no one pays attention and corrects it before it’s too late.

Jessica is a 5th grade student at Heard County Elementary School. She has been at this school since Pre-K, long enough for the kids to get to know her and understand her.

Unfortunately, some parents don’t teach their kids about kindness and understanding towards people who are “different”.

Some parents don’t pay enough attention to their kids to even know if they are being bullied or being the bully. Do you know how your child behaves towards other children (not their friends) at school?

Do you know if your child is a bully? If you don’t, take the time to find out. If you do, teach them to do the right thing and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

It may be easier to go along with the crowd. The easy road doesn’t build good character. The hardest thing to do is to stand up and tell your friends and classmates that they are wrong.

Though, it will make them a better person in the long run. Put yourselves in my shoes, as a parent, and think how you would feel if your child was tormented on a daily basis by their classmates.

Think about how you would feel if it was your child that has Autism and they were ostracized by their classmates. Do the right thing!

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words will always hurt me.”

I would like to thank Jessica’s special and wonderful friends…Annabelle, Neely and Christianne. They are good to her and take up for her when they are around.

Comments

  1. What an honest and insightful article. As a mother of a 5 and 7 year old, I have tried to instill in them to respect and appreciate every human being and how boring the world would be if we were all the exact same. I always make it a point to ask the teachers at school how my child behaves toward and with other children. If more parents would simply ask, the teachers will be honest. And parents should not let bullying be tolerated at home between siblings, or in some cases, a parent will unknowingly foster bullying behavior by “picking” on their children. You’re right, it all starts at home. I hope your Jessica retains those good friendships and has better days ahead in school. Thanks for writing!

  2. You are so right. I know Jessica and she is a very sweet and kind little girl to everyone. She shouldn’t have to deal with what kids and adults do or say to her every day. She is different than us but she is a very sweet and pretty little girl. I feel that if you let your kids pick on others than your just teaching them hey you can do whatever you want to and no one will do anything about it. Hey that’s not right because if it was your kid getting picked on all the time you wouldn’t like it at all so why don’t you stop what your doing and teach your kids the right thing to do and not the wrong thing. I have a Nephew that has lost his leg and i will say i have seen and heard people say things right in front of him and it’s not right to say things to little kids when they are different than you. If i hear or see anyone that i know doing that i have and will say something to them because i feel that God made us all different and he wouldn’t want us to be the way most of us are. I love you Jessica {= Just think before you do or say anything to someone who is different than you….

  3. Anna Kirkpatrick says:

    YAY I LOVE IT!

  4. patricia Bailey says:

    Many parents would be shocked to find that their child has acted the part of a bully. I hope this article will open many eyes.

  5. Great Article!!!

  6. Phoenix Ward says:

    That was really good! Tell Jessica that we love her, and we’re praying for her!! <3

  7. Ksh Bhachech says:

    May God Bless you and your family! What a testimony!
    Reminds me of this truism: “If ‘normal’ was good enough, we all would have been living on the tree-tops.”
    Extra-ordinary is your blessing!

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