Although some of Jenny McCarthy’s thoughts on autism (particularly around the cause of autism) have created some controversy, she’s a mom that’s trying to navigate the often bumpy road of autism. The other week on The View, she brought up the topic of bullying, but with a specific twist that parents of autistic children may specifically face. McCarthy’s son, Evan, is being bullied at summer camp – however, he doesn’t know it.
She explains, “My son’s main goal is to make as many friends as possible,” McCarthy said, before adding that she got a heartbreaking email from the camp revealing that the kids he believes are his “friends” are actually bullying him.
They’re laughing at him but he laughs too,” she said. “I said, ‘You have to find the kids that like you and are nice to you. Who do you sit next to in the cafeteria?’ And he said, ‘No one. I ask, and they say no.”
She has mixed feelings about it – on one hand, she is relieved that he’s unaware the kids are being mean, but on the other, she is trying to figure out when to teach him about bullying and what he’s actually experiencing.
What would you do? Or, if you’ve gone through something like this, what have you done? Whoopi Goldberg (McCarthy’s co-host) gave her some – what I thought to be good – advice, which was to talk to the other kids’ parents because they may not be aware it’s happening and they could help address the situation. I would also hope that the camp, knowing they’re aware of what’s going on, is doing their part to stop this type of bullying.
If you are faced with bullying, here are some tips shared by Autism File (based on feedback from their own readers) that could help:
- Find out what your school district’s (or camp’s) policy on bullying is and be prepared to advocate for better if needed.
- Share social stories with your child that deal with bullying.
- Consider a volunteer job at your child’s school (or camp) which will give you an opportunity to watch out for any questionable actions or words that might be red flags for bullying.
- Employ a buddy system by asking a trusted teacher, aide, or even a non-disabled peer to keep an eye out for any negative actions or words directed towards your child.
Lynsey Community Manager