Bullying – You Have More Power Than You Think

Loving Someone with Asperger’s Syndrome

The following column by Jeffrey Deutsch is part of his “It Gets Better” series on Wrong Planet.

One thing that Aspies so often suffer from is bullying. People picking on them, insulting them, vandalizing or stealing their stuff, even spitting on and hitting them when they can’t fight back.

I’ve been there, done that and gotten the T-shirt.

One of the worst things about being bullied is the fear. Fear that something could happen at any time. Being afraid that everyone will see how weak you are.

Having no control over anything. Being *helpless*. And that happens with a great deal of bullying.

Read Bullying – You Have More Power Than You Think

Thing is, sometimes we have a great deal more power than we know. Sometimes getting around in this world is a bit like a kid trying to fly an airplane. You can barely stay in the air with all the other planes around you, going their merry way.

But once you take some time and study your controls, and then practice using different ones and seeing what happens each time, you can harness your flying power.

Back when I was a kid, I saw the movie “My Bodyguard,” about a kid, Clifford who goes to a new school and gets bullied by the school’s tough guy, “Big M” Moody. Then I read the book – basically the same story. Moody’s a bad guy who uses violence to get his way, including extorting kids’ lunch money. (In fact, he’s played by a tough guy straight from Central Casting – Matt Dillon – just to make sure we get the message. Dillon’s tone and manner brought to this villain what black hats did in earlier times.)

Ever hear the saying “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression?” First impressions are very important. And where art imitates life, as here it certainly does, you can predict a good deal by looking at what happens the first time two people interact.

When Clifford meets “Big M,” he asks whether the M stands for Mouth. (In the book, he says “M & M – good stuff for little kids!”) Way to go, Clifford.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just one situation – this is a work meant to speak to kids everywhere. Remember, Clifford’s (and everyone else’s) every line is specified by the screenwriter, author, etc. This book and movie were trying to tell us something.

Were they trying to show Clifford as being mainly to *blame*? No. Again, Big M isn’t just some guy who doesn’t like being made fun of. he’s literally a professional (albeit for the moment small-time) criminal. And Clifford doesn’t call him anything that can’t be repeated here on a family website – keep in mind that the movie is rated PG.

So yes, Big M was very wrong. *But he wasn’t unprovoked.*

They were trying to tell us that you can reduce the crap that flies your way by not generating any yourself. Not making fun of someone’s name is a good and cheap way to avoid trouble. You might have heard the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prime example.

In my case, negative example. In junior high school, I teased another kid, calling him “Ravioli” – a variant on his name. He responded by attacking me multiple times, and not verbally either. Was he wrong? Of course.

Was he acting *randomly*? Nope. As far as I know, I was the only kid he attacked. (In fact, one day after punching me he strode into a class he shared…to cheers and clapping from some of the other kids.)

If I had it to do over again, would I still call him “Ravioli”? Hell no.

Knowledge is power. And with both, it gets better.

Jeff Deutsch is an Aspie, who draws on his decades of Home-based Experiential Lifelong Learning (HELL) to help fellow Aspies better relate to NTs and vice versa. Now happily married to Emily, an NT who first told him about Asperger Syndrome (AS), he gives inspirational talks, group training for Aspies and also for Aspies’ families’ and partners’ support groups, employers, service providers, first responders and others, and individual life coaching for both Aspies and NTs. He helps Aspies better get along with NTs, and NTs better recognize and deal with Aspies, on the job, through social situations, in personal relationships and other aspects of daily life.

After graduating from high school, and then Cornell University less than three years later, Jeff subsequently earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from George Mason University. Years later, at the age of 38, he was diagnosed with AS by both a counselor and a psychiatrist.

Jeff’s practice, A SPLINT (ASPies Linking with NTs), is registered in the State of Maryland.

4 thoughts on “Bullying – You Have More Power Than You Think”


    • pinksparklecandy on December 3, 2015

      i get bullyid in school

    • Oddcat on November 19, 2016

      Okay so the way to deal with bullying is……watch your step and don’t start sh*t? That’s about all i’m getting from this. A bully picks on someone whether or not the victim drew attention to himself or not? How about we find a way to deal administratively w the bully?

    • Jakki on September 23, 2019

      Agrees with Oddcat.

    • HumanBeingNormalButNotNormal on December 23, 2021

      Justice is an attractive goal to pursue.
      My life is ridden with expectations of experiencing justice, being supported after I had successfully obtained justice for others, but in almost every case there has been almost NO justice for me.
      Being a martyr is NOT a profession that pays well.
      Whatever you plan, please do NOT plan on getting any help from anyone else when you are pursuing a just cause, or protecting yourself or the population from harms.
      I KNOW why the woman in the park did not get help, do you?
      A rhetorical remark, no response is sought or expected.

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