Originally Posted by LaughingHyena
Of course, here's the problem, Jim also has a diagnosis of autism, and I've heard from several class mates "the teachers don't tell him off because he's got that autism thing". His parent came up and said much the same after the strangling incident.
I am so sorry for your situation. That school's behavior is apalling. If there is any way to get your daughter out of that class or to homeschool, I would seriously consider it. I hope that you get BTDT advice on this. I really don't know what you can do, I'm so sorry that I can't give better advice, but something really needs to change. Your daughter is being abused and her teachers are letting it happen. Please do more about the situation at school if you can. It's only the middle of the school year, the thought of her having to spend another 5 or so months suffering this treatment, which is apparently escalating, is just awful. This boy has already tried to strangle her and left marks doing so- it has gone too far. Does he have to hospitalize her before she'll be protected? She does not deserve to be treated like that. If her teachers are not willing or able to address this behavior in the boy, then she needs to be removed from the situation.
Did she ever try to stand up to the boy? I can't help but suspect that they're leaving your daughter with her because she's taken a more passive role (which is utterly unfair to her). That boy's behavior would likely result in bullying or other forms of retaliation from many of the students, it's easier to leave him with her because it sounds like she's just taking it. If she stands up for herself she may get punished or hurt even worse by him, so I don't know what she should do. I want to suggest she take a self-defense class and learn how to block his hits so that he can't hurt her anymore (she should not retaliate by hitting back, I'm sure you agree), but I fear she'll be punished for doing so. I imagine that she'd be ecstatic to be suspended and not have to be around him anymore, and you don't want her to start having a behavior problem just to get away from this.
If she never tried to stand up for herself, I think that you should help your daughter with her passivity, though. It is in no way her fault that she is being treated this way, her teachers should not be allowing it, but she needs to be able to stand up for herself when she's an adult. I say this as someone who also suffers from anxiety and was (sometimes still am) very passive as a result of it, it's easy to freeze up when you're facing conflict, but she needs to learn how to stand up for herself. You won't always be there to do it for you (although you should still be there for her now!). I understand if this gets put on the back burner for the remainder of the school year, but just think about it in the future.
Because this boy has autism, I understand why this must be difficult for the school. I know quite a few adults with autism (several who have autistic children as well) who are furious when they see things like this happen. They're not furious at specific people, but at the system that doesn't give adequate support to schools, families, or these children. Allowing him to hurt people is teaching him that this behavior is acceptable and will only set him up to get in trouble in the future. If he continues treating people like that, what hope does he have of holding a real job or being in a happy relationship? At the same time, it's very difficult to know how to address special needs like this and too often families and schools aren't getting the support they need to handle it. I'm sure that his parents are overwhelmed and they may even afraid of their own child, I've seen too many instances of this happening. If Jim has any siblings, it's even possible he's treating them the same way he's treating your daughter, and the problems at home may be too much for them to put attention on the problems at school. My heart goes out to everyone in this situation- your daughter, her teachers, "Jim", his parents, everyone. Jim almost certainly is not getting the help he needs, his family and his teachers aren't getting the support required to help him, your daughter isn't being cared for or respected. It's an awful situation for everyone.
I don't know if having empathy for how the others may feel just as helpless in this situation as you and your daughter do will help you or not. It still doesn't justify letting her be treated this way, but it may help you keep a clear head and remember this is a difficult situation for everyone. I hope that you're never in the position Jim's parents are, and certainly that it isn't to this extent, but it is possible your son may cause problems at school due to his autism, and I'm sure that you'll want people to approach you and your son with empathy. I also don't know if approaching Jim's parents as a parent who has an idea what they're going through would help or not. It may help them have sympathy for your family and help them realize that you aren't attacking their son, but because your children don't know and haven't accepted his diagnosis yet, it would probably be better not to reveal it to them and risk having it get out.
For how to approach your daughter, I have no really specific advice on what to say. I would suggest taking a good amount of time when you can focus solely on her and not have to worry about your son overhearing her. Definitely be prepared for an incredibly negative interaction, truly brace yourself for the worst things you could possibly imagine anyone saying, and be prepared to show respect for her feelings no matter how negative and hurtful they may be. Remember that the feelings aren't truly towards your son, they're a result of what she's facing at school. If she doesn't say anything negative, I would gently make sure that she's not keeping it in for fear of upsetting you or because she's ashamed of how she feels about her own brother. Don't assume this is the case, but just let her know that you understand she's facing problems because of a child with autism and understand if she's upset or afraid about her brother's diagnosis. It may take her time to process this, and if she feels safe to come to you with her feelings, it's better than having her bottle it up.
I hope that she responds well, though. She may not respond negatively, or she may get over the negative feelings fairly quickly, although I agree with being concerned.
If she respond very negatively and it causes a problem at home, I think you'll really need to fix the problem at school. She may not be able to accept her brother until she can get away from the mistreatment she's facing and heal. The book "It's OK Not to Share" has a chapter about handling when one sibling doesn't like another, it may help you. It's focused on when a new baby is in the family, but the advice could still apply. It talks about how to respect the one child's negative feelings, without endangering the other. It's possible you'll be able to access that chapter on the amazon preview without having to buy the whole book to make sure it's helpful.
Does her brother know about what's going on with his sister and that Jim has autism? If he is, I would also be incredibly careful about how you tell him. If his only real life example of a person with autism is someone who's hurting his sister, it will be even harder to help him accept his diagnosis. I completely agree with wanting to make sure he hears it from you.
I'm so sorry that this is happening, it's really an awful situation for everyone involved. I hope that you can make a change at the school so that it's in a better position to help your son in the future, but your priority should be what your family is facing now. If all you can do right now is help your daughter, that's enough. And I really hope that you can help her, I'm so sorry that I can't give better advice about what she's facing at school, the situation is just horrifying and no one should face that.
Originally Posted by Peony
I think public schools have much less tolerance for this type of stuff so I would urge you to speak up often and loudly.
Edited by sillysapling - 1/24/14 at 9:55pm
I don't know for certain, but I believe it can be more difficult for public schools because of the Americans with Disabilities Act and public schools get federal money. They aren't allowed to be seen as discriminating against or mistreating a child with a disability, they could be opening themselves up to lawsuits. In another thread, a poster pointed out that a diagnosis is important for special needs kids as, if they have a diagnosis, they can't be expelled or denied education due to their behavior that's a result of their diagnosis. It's possible that, at the school, this had morphed into not being able to punish special needs children at all.