Monday, October 11, 2010

Teachers Are the Worst Bullies

Kids with Aspergers often relate more closely with adults than they do with other kids.  Adults are more often at our intellectual level and able to keep up with our mental pace, far more than our peers ever could.  They also aren't bound by the social constructs that force every kid to tease those who aren't exactly like them.  A good teacher can be a guide, a light in the darkness and a comforting hand at the back (I shudder writing this expression - having my back touched scares me).  However, a bad teacher can traumatize us and send us back farther.

As with anyone who has gone through schooling with multiple teachers I've had my fair share of both.  Luckily there have been more good than bad, but both have existed.

There seems to be a misconception that teachers cannot be bullies.  This is wrong.  Teachers can be the worst offenders in bullying because they use a position of power to commit their crimes.  A teacher can get away with some of the most damaging psychological abuse that a child will ever experience and deflect every complaint from them.  They can misuse power and create an inescapable situation of abuse.

One of the most damaging experiences I've had with bully teachers was with a woman I'll call Mrs. B.  She was a math teacher (a special education math teacher.  Someone trained to deal with Aspies), which already puts her low on my list, but I give everyone a fair shot.  Coincidentally, she was also my IEP advisor, so I had to deal with her on a regular basis.  This woman (and I use that term loosely here) would single out two or three kids at the start of each semester to pick on.  In this particular semester of 10th grade, I was one of her victims.

I didn't like math but would finish my work and then bury myself in a book.  For the most part, once the lesson started again, I would focus on that and leave the book sitting in the corner of my desk.  Apparently, this was a problem and she would regularly scream at me for not putting it in my backpack.  Not ask me to put it away or remind me of the rules, but scream at me from across the room to put it away.  She would make fun of me for not being able to say the numbers for an answer correctly and not allow me to leave the classroom to calm down (something which was mandated in my IEP).

The worst incident came after I didn't put a book away.  This set her off and she rounded on me, standing behind me and yelling about how insubordinate and rude I was being and how she'd have me written up.  All of this is going on while I'm showing classic meltdown symptoms - biting myself, crying, rocking - because of the stress and the other kids staring.  I broke down in tears and didn't move from a slump on my desk until the end of the class.  She, of course, tried to write me up and blame me for problems in the class stemming from her inability to teach correctly.

If a kid is complaining that a teacher is picking on them, please listen.  Teachers are the worst bullies and can make school hell.  If you're a teacher and see another teacher acting inappropriately, speak up.  No child should have to be trapped in an abusive classroom, especially special needs kids.

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