Have you ever heard someone say that bullies are a part of growing up?
If you're disabled, you are more likely to be bullied. Children with disabilities are not as included.
Well, I have come to understand that dealing with challenges is a part of life, and then there are situations that should never occur. Not everyone is comfortable admitting this, but if you’re disabled, you are more likely to be bullied than a person without disabilities. This is because children with disabilities are not as included in classroom activities, so the other children see the child with a disability as weak or an easy target because of the negative stigma attached to having a disability.
I am an adult now, but I remember being teased and tormented by children my age every day for eight years. As a result, I suffered from anxiety and mild depression. Throughout that time, I did think about ending my own life because I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be “normal.” I wanted the boys to like me; I wanted to get invited to parties and sleepovers. But that never happened. I tried to conform and change myself - thinking that if I did, I’d finally be accepted and fit in. No matter how nice I was, how I dressed, or what I said, I never fit in with the kids without disabilities. It made me feel sad and alone. I would have to go in to my counselor to talk it out. Teen suicide is a problem. I am doing the work slowly to correct this.
Getting your feelings out is a great coping tool.
I remember what helped me through all of this. It was my art! Whether it was a painting or a poem, it was mine. It was something that I was always encouraged to do by my mother. She bought art sets, crayons, color pencils and every marker imaginable. I was part of a program for art where I made different kinds of art two days a week. I also had notebooks filled with words on my feelings. Getting your feelings out is a great coping tool. To any parent reading this, get your child in an after-school program. Being around other artistic children helped me to gain friends, and I stopped worrying about the bullies and focused on the people who liked me and my work.
My words of advice - Don’t try to fit in. Real friends will accept your quirkiness, and your family will support any healthy activity you engage in. Stay around people - encouraging people - whether it be an older adult of the family, a neighbor, or just an older cousin. People who care will not make fun of you for something you have no control over.
Don't try to fit in - real friends will accept your quirkiness and your family will support you.
I came home crying many times, but I knew that one day it wouldn’t matter what any of the mean children said about me. I was right, because I look back and discover that some of those kids were jealous of me because I was smart. No matter what the reason a child may have to bully you, live your life. When you’re not invited to something, go out with family and enjoy quality time. Focus on making positive memories.
Parents, teachers, students that are looking for tactics on how to engage bullying prevention, I'd like to share this great resource.
Caprisha is a 29-year-old self-published author from Chicago. She currently attends Northern Illinois University in Dekalb where she studies Nonprofit Civic Engagement and Disability Rehabilitation Services. She has spastic cerebral palsy. Caprisha is now an ambassador working with the Borgen Project. The Borgen Project is a non profit based in Seattle Washington, they promote global poverty prevention and awareness to foreign policy.