Monday, 9 March 2015

Just a Little Different: The Challenge of Not Fitting In by Chris Viola

Both primary and secondary school can be difficult for children. The two most common problems faced by children are social struggles, and keeping one’s grades up to par. Most children struggle with at least one for a period of time, but for a child with a disability, both of these challenges become enormously more difficult.

In school, almost all children try to fit in. A disability can leave a child feeling isolated. Whether a physical disability, or a cognitive one, many children living with disability or long term illness are unable to fit in, making them easy targets for bullies. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, myself, I felt like I was being bullied for no reason, but after my diagnosis and several years to think, it was clear that I was missing out on several ‘cues’, and stood out.

The problem was one of perception and knowledge: I didn’t understand what the ‘accepted’ or ‘popular’ behaviour was because I didn’t understand the ‘cues’, or ‘rules’ society makes. I didn’t understand the cues because I didn’t even know there were these ‘cues’ or ‘rules’. Although this struggle continues slightly to this day, (the concept of social cues makes it sound like me and the other person are rehearsing a play, not having a conversation, but that’s just me), it’s something I’ve gotten better at. Bullies noticed that I was ‘different’, and put me down for it. Many of these are problems because the other person in the conflict doesn’t realise there is a problem.

 If you are being bullied or struggling at school, either academically or socially, there are many things you can do. AbilityOnline’s ‘Bully Busters’ gives much advice. Another thing you can do is talk to an adult that you trust, such as a parent or other relative. You can also speak to a teacher or other staff member at school. Although not everyone can help you directly, someone who really cares about you will at least give some advice, or perhaps refer you to someone they think can help.
If you would like the opportunity to connect with others who live with disability or long-term illness, please register for free at www.abilityonine.org. AblityOnline provides a safe, fully monitored online environment for kids and young adults of all abilities.

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