Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Bullies – its time to reconsider what’s ‘normal’.


Run by autistic artist, Donna Williams With up to 60% of people with Asperger’s Syndrome reporting being bullied in secondary schools on a daily basis we have an epidemic of intolerance which points at a currently undiagnosed and far more widespread and damaging pathology than Asperger’s Syndrome will ever be. Others reports put figures at closer to 90%.

What kind of soulless society is being bred with this sort of damaging hierarchical dynamic being so commonplace? Who is helping bullying (but seemingly ‘normal’) individuals so threatened with difference and diversity they feel compelled to corner already disempowered and vulnerable people and further disempower them? Who taught these children that they had the right to be judge and jury over others? It’s time we called it what it is… children lacking empathy, emotional intelligence, a sense of justice and equality. Often these individuals band together with followers and wannabes, as if their power in numbers justifies their self righteous, presumed ‘normality’.

Who brought these people up? Video games? DVDs? TV? Where was their moral and emotional education and where did society, community and family fail to reinforce REAL empathy, a real sense of equality? Were these swept aside in favor of keeping up with the latest trends or making sure little Johnny or little Joanie were reminded too often of their own presumed ‘normality’ or even encouraged to strive for some kind of celebrated, presumed superiority? How much would such children fear falling from these lofty, artificial heights and fight to maintain these mindsets?
Just because someone can PERFORM a semblance of empathy (for whatever vested interests of inclusion or popularity) for those they consider worthy as their ‘peers’, doesn’t make it REAL empathy. Similarly, just because someone on the autistic spectrum lacks a simultaneous sense of self and other or has a processing or visual perceptual challenge which makes them too literal to understand the deeper significance of what they see or hear or read body language or facial expression, this doesn’t equate to a lack of empathy (as often wrongly presumed).
Who failed to teach so called ‘normal’ bullies of the rich social tapestry of diversity or equality in difference? Who gave these bullies the presumptions they were so much more normal than others till their narcissism could no longer perceive the pathology of THEIR own condition, THEIR lacking? If we teach such children that others are ‘broken’ versions of themselves, we are may be reinforcing the bullies own superiority and reinforcing paternalistic ‘sympathy’ in others – neither of which promote a diversity friendly version of equality in difference.
Sixty to ninety percent. SIXTY to NINETY PERCENT.

As 1 in every 150 people (and climbing) becomes diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, may we seek to stay visible in their communities, be invited to their classrooms, graduate to teach their children and educate their communities. May we present them where we can with our intact humanity, our lack of hierarchy, our rare realness and honesty, perhaps even humility, and lay at their feet our stories of additional social phobia, social anxiety, depression, PTSD which we’ve lived with, perhaps risen above. Let us lay these at the feet of those who gave such blessings to us for many of us on the autistic spectrum are so much more empathic and human in spite of, sometimes because of such things, than some of them may ever be.

For this, let us help them and their children and their children’s children, to stop hiding behind bravado and smug assurance of their own mythical ‘normality’.

Adults with autism can also step forward to offer to support those in the community who are marginalised, friendless, vulnerable, even traumatised and remind them to stand tall, stand strong and that they are not broken or damaged ‘non autistic people’ at all, but damned fine people with autism.

Donna Williams



posted under Autism, Donna Williams