Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Is this bullying?

Boy 1 has ADHD and mild autism as many regular readers here know.

His ADHD is treated, not something we went into lightly but 2 weeks in we realised just what a difference it made. We now see quite a serious little boy and a lovely character.

The autism is an odd one. He is not classically autistic(many people think Rainman). In-fact you wouldn't single him out in a group of children and immediately say 'that child is not the same as others', it is only when you get to know him, or observe him for a time that you think he has a few quirks - he is a loner, he doesn't really know how to play with others, he can say some inappropriate things and have no idea why they are inappropriate, he takes things literally, he doesn't like a change to routine, and he finds it very difficult to control his emotions.

On a Tuesday evening Boy 2 plays football at a local field. Boy 1 happily takes himself off into the playground at the side and spends a very happy hour swinging from the top bar of the swings or sitting on the top most point of the climbing frame. Occasionally he will be seen messing around with another boy climbing trees.

Last Tuesday there were 3 or 4 older boys, maybe by a year or 2 playing with a football round the play equipment. I then noticed them throwing this ball at Boy 1 and hitting him and I could see even from a distance that he was getting upset. Each time he moved from one piece of equipment to the next they seem to follow him, trying to hit him with the ball.

I gestured for him to come over to me, he was upset, I told him to move away from them but it didn't work. I decided I needed to get involved when I saw Boy 1 climbing the fence into the football field in order to get away from this group of boys and the largest of them hitting him as he climbed with the ball.

I marched over, using my finger to call both the boy and my son over to me. In fairness the larger boy came over immediately saying 'he started it'. I assured him I wasn't going to shout at him but I did want to know from both of them what was going on. The larger boy said they had been playing dodge ball and asked Boy 1 if he wanted to join in, he had said yes, but then when they hit him with the ball he had got angry and started calling them idiots and throwing their ball away. I explained to him that Boy 1 obviously had not understood the rules of the games and sometimes had difficulty taking part in team games like that. Larger boy even apologised without any prompting. I trotted back to my football viewing thinking it had been sorted.

End of - or so I thought.

Nope, 10 minutes later I notice they are following Boy 1 wherever he goes. He sits on a swing, 2 of this group with then sit on the 2 swings either side of him. He jumps off and moves to the climbing frame, 2 follow him there. In the end I called Boy 1 out so he stood with me for the last 10 minutes.

I have to say I was pretty upset, there is only so much I can do, as I don't then want him teased that his mum is fighting his battles.

Last night saw us at the Football practice again and Boy 1 in the playground. The same group of boys were there and at first seem to be ignoring him. Half an hour in I suddenly realised he is running between equipment again and being followed and hit with a ball.

This time I charged in. There seems to be 2 lots involved, the first was much smaller than my boy and I asked him why he was throwing a ball at my son, he didn't say a word, I asked him if he thought it was nice, shook head, I asked if Boy 1 had done anything, shook head, so I pointed out he was no better than a bully. He then skulked off and was fine after that.

Same group from last week, I asked them why they were continuing to throw the ball at Boy 1's head, they said he kept kicking their ball away - I pointed out that last week they had been hitting him with it. so did it surprise them, all shook heads, told them as well they were verging on bullying him.

They then left him alone.  Thing is Boy 1 has no idea what to do and how to handle it, he just ends up really upset and very angry.

I am at a loss, I don't want to stop him playing, I don't want him picked on as mummy is fighting his battles, even standing near the railings and letting the other kids know my presence didn't seem to do much.

Feeling very distressed seeing my boy treated like that by other kids and very helpless.

1 comment:

Jazzygal said...

Have to say the I would see that as bullying. Ultimately. There is such a fine line, in my experience. It is true that sometimes our children don't understand the rules of the games. That may annoy the other kids who may or may not bother to explain the rules and then they start to pick on the child. It may be true that 'boy 1' threw the ball away or whatever. But then they kept following him and picking on him. That is bullying, imo, especially when it happened on the next occasion. I tend to consider how situations would be viewed in the school playground? Would a teacher intervene? I think they would in this case......

Good luck, it is worrying, I know.

xx Jazzy