Tag Archives: autism

Emma’s Words: It has ALWAYS been the time to end bullying.

16 Nov

Emma Murray!

The YES! Conference

by Emma Murray

The YES! Campaign on October 23, 2011 was a huge success. After schools arrived and registered, I was in charge to help rally students together to take a picture. The actual conference hadn’t even begun yet, but everyone appeared enthusiastic and excited for what was in store in the hours to come. I was pleased with this positive omen. During the first activity I was in with about twenty other students, we talked about what makes human beings feel included and excluded. In a nutshell, here’s what we decided for what makes us feel included: feeling part of a conversation, being paid attention to, feeling like you can be yourself, and feeling genuinely happy.

For excluded, however, the list appeared to be longer. We also all noted how much quicker answers were being spout out, and that it seemed much easier to come up with negative things rather than positive. The following was on the excluded list: fidgeting with clothes, pretending to text, checking the time over and over, not being listened to, feeling sad and not feeling like we are pivotal to the conversation. What was interesting about this discussion was that we had all just met each other, yet the environment and vibe was positive and happy, and everyone listened and respected one another. I also think it was a great moment of realization for everyone in the group; it was clear that no one is alone, that at some point or another, everyone has felt included as well as excluded.

At my afternoon workshop, “We Fit. Just Differently.”, I learned some horrifying facts about Autism. Over 85% of autistic kids are bullied (and over 95% of kids with Asperger syndrome are bullied). I also learned that autistic individuals take longer to process what is said to them; it’s not that they don’t understand, they just need a little time to process and reply. Writing is also more difficult for autistic individuals. I learned this from an activity where we had to place a piece of paper in front of a mirror and then write our name backwards, but so it appeared normal in the mirror. This was MUCH more difficult than one would think, and the point was to show us that normal writing for autistic kids is a struggle.

It is not only important, but crucial, for youth, for us, to end bullying in schools. Whenever teachers speak up about bullying and give us a “lecture,” some students tend to react with the typical brush-off “push it aside, suck it up, and move on” response. But one of my group members from my school said something that really made an impact on me.

He said that if the “cool kids” and “leaders” of groups or cliques in schools start standing up to bullying, then the rest of the pack will follow.

When teachers attempt to enforce and instill positive change, it is not nearly as effective because it’s coming from an adult whose JOB it is to say those things. Students left the YES! Campaign empowered to make a change. But what does saying YES! actually mean? It means to agree to end bullying and speak up when an inappropriate comment is said or when an individual is treated poorly and inappropriately; to become leaders in your schools and communities to make a difference; to make a positive change by positively influencing our peers.

It is time to end bullying. Wait, no, CORRECTION: it has ALWAYS been the time to end bullying. The question is, are you going to treat others the way you want to be treated? Are you going to make a change and say, “YES!”? I sure hope you do.

I’m asking these questions to you for real. ¬†What’s your answer?

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Emma Murray is also a musician. Check out her music here on YouTube. Follow her on twitter: @emmamurraysongs.

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