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Monday, 25 May 2009

Bullying Update

For those of you following our bullying issue you will be pleased to know that we have finally withdrawn Christian from his school and today he started at a new school with a very tough bullying policy. It has been a very difficult time as we have navigated the issues and helped Christian, who has Aspergers Syndrome, to come to a place where he felt he could cope with change on top of being serially bullied and often let down by his teachers failure to protect or seek justice for him.

While our preference was that he would come home and be home schooled this was not what he wanted and as he is 14 we felt it was important he got some say in what form his education took. His new school has been really understanding of his fear of change and have allowed him visits to the school to get his head around the concept of moving, so hopefully this is the beginning of a new chapter for him.

This morning after I dropped him off I headed to his old school with his textbooks, his library books and a letter for the principal and a lengthy formal complaint for the Board of Trustees. Thus begins the formal battle - though hopefully it will not be a battle and we will get the refund of his fees that we have asked for and they will formulate an effective bullying strategy for the sake of their current students.

Now that we have the complaint written and Christian installed in his new school, we hope to start picking up the pieces of our lives, including this blog which we have neglected somewhat this month. Apologies for their being no Sunday Study yesterday - Matt just could not get to it as we had so much we had to get done this week for Christian and then Matt had to drive to Tauranga for a one week intensive last night and won't be back until Friday. Hopefully things will be back to normal here at MandM soon!


  1. Hi, I was tootling around the net and came across this post. Sorry to hear about your son's experiences. Our daughter is only 7 and it has not come up yet, but we are always aware of it as a potential problem.

    Regarding what you said in one of your posts about finding the phrase "social disability" a poor description for someone who is so perceptive in many ways, I thought you may find this recent report interesting (warning: it's quite slow to load)


    Lynn G (Bernard Hickey's partner)

  2. Hi Lynn, nice to meet you - you should come along to the next bloggers drinks!

    Parenting an Aspie is an interesting journey - I always find the portrayal of them on TV shows very frustratingly inaccurate - the reality is that they are fairly normal but are just incredibly interesting to be around more than anything. When you understand how they think they aren't even that difficult to manage.

    Anyway, thanks heaps for the article, I will read it tonight. I am always interested in reading new, in depth material on the subject as a lot of stuff out there is so trite or misses the subtleties.

    Recent blog post: The Illiberality of Abortion

  3. Hi Madeleine

    I hope that this new school works out for your son. Bullying is never a nice issue and it sounds like your last school was a real shocker. I hope your action prompts some action on their behalf for the remaining students. I also hope for a smooth transition for your son.



  4. hello,

    nice blog and article!! keep posting!!

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  5. first off, i would like to commend you for being 'there' for your son christian, i know how much of a challenge it is to have a child who has your son's condition... while i was beginning to read this entry i was gonna suggest homeschooling but it appears that christian does not want that... is he currently enrolled in a specialized school that deals with autism and the like? i just thought that it would best suit him... anyway, i do hope that you win that battle... and good luck!

  6. Christian is extremely bright and seems very 'normal' most of the time, in the sense that few who meet him would notice anything different about him beyond that what he has to say is often very insightful and intelligent. Given this, a specialised school should not be necessary for him. The thing he needs help with the most is learning how to function in the real world, being around people who think and interact and socialise like everyone else in the real world and who are not treating him differently or catering to his condition because this is what he will face when he leaves home and enters life as an adult.

    A home schooling environment could give him excellent education and socialisation - I firmly believe that home schooled children get better socialisation from being at home than at school and the majority of the literature an studies supports this belief. However, Christian is at the point where he needs exposure to the indifferent aspect of socialisation and he needs to learn to function, perfom and cope within that context as some work environments can be like this - no one really cares if you are a bit different, they just want the job done. In a home schooling environment he is more likely to be exposed to positive, supportive socialisation and he already knows how to cope and function in that situation and it is important that he learns how

    Most kids/adults instinctively work out how to get through tough/indifferent social situations and work to try to spend the majority of their time in or to create positive ones. Christian does not know how to do this yet so out hope was that rather than waiting til he leaves home or goes to work before he was exposed to this he he would learn this in a safe environment, school, alongside our support at home... but that went to custard because of the bullying. Bullying is not an example of the real world indifference we hope him to learn to cope with as no adult would have to put up with what he went through in their workplace.

    From Christian's point of view, he started out in school then came home when he was 8 around the same time we got the Aspergers Diagnosis as school was seriously melting down, he wasn't coping with it and the teachers were not coping with him. We spent 3 years as a family learning about his condition, how to manage his version of it and home schooling him - when he came home he could barely read and would not write, by the time we sent him back to school he was an avid bookworm (and still is) and happily writes. He went back to school because he came to a point where he said he felt he had learned what he needed from being at home and he wanted to try to master what had failed for him previously, school. He also wanted to be in an environment that was extremely predictable and timetabled as since getting on top of his condition and his learning he could rip through his homeschooling work in about 45 minutes and then he had the day free to do whatever - hang out with homeschooled friends, climb trees, animate things, go out with me etc and he did not enjoy having that freedom each day.

    The return to school went ok until and got progressively better and better until he hit this recent highschool and the bullying began. So far the new school is working out well, in the 4 days he has spent there there has been no bullying so it has already beaten the previous school.

    Recent blog post: Video of Matthew Flannagan on Apologetics: Answering Objections to the Christian Faith


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