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“What We All Want In Life Is A Shot”: Bullying and Special Needs

By July 12, 2010 No Comments

Every parent wants to see their kid hit it out of the park — just once. For Jason McElwain, it was dunking 3 pointers.

“Hitting it out of the park” can apply to anything. For some it’s sports but for others it can be math, photography, music, writing or hundreds of other interests. EVERY parent wants this feeling of accomplishment for their child, including parents of children with special needs.

Sometimes it’s a coach like Jim Johnson of Greece Athena High School or sometimes it’s someone who just recognizes the whole person, not just aspects of a child that make it hard for them to fit in. Ironically, it’s the hidden parts that make them stand out that need to be discovered, nurtured, appreciated and given a chance. If schools aren’t prepared to educate mainstream students about kids with disabilities, then kids with challenges, such as Asperger’s, don’t have a chance “to take their shot.” As a matter of fact, it’s often the opposite. Kids with challenges are vulnerable to taunts, exclusion and physical bullying. (As mentioned in previous posts, kids with Asperger’s are 6 times more likely to be bullied in school.)

Jason McElwain’s story is a teachable moment. It’s up to the entire school–students, parents, teachers, coaches–to help every child “hit it out of the park.”

If every parent talked to their child about how to treat others in school before the new year started, bullying wouldn’t be the reason why tens of thousands of kids don’t want to go to school. As a commentator from ESPN said, “What we all want in life is a shot.” Let’s start talking.