Helping a Bullied Child with Asperger’s Syndrome
The Washington Post reports “One day in May 2004, a student at Short Pump Elementary School in Henrico County, Va., walked up to fourth-grade aspie David Henck in the cafeteria and said, ‘It would be a holy day if you were shot dead by a sniper’”
That single incident would have been bothersome enough to David and his parents, Bill and Leigh Henck, but it was not the first time children at Short Pump Elementary had been cruel to David. He has Asperger Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder marked in part by social clumsiness. He was, as his father put it, a bully magnet, and his parents did not think the school was doing enough to help him.
I am telling this story based almost entirely on Bill Henck’s account. I asked the Henrico County school system for a response, but at first got only two short and relatively general statements from the superintendent, which did not surprise me in the least. I have been investigating several cases of communication between parents and school officials in difficult circumstances, and the standard official response to the parents, and to any reporters who might inquire, is often as little a response as possible.