The best way to start is to tell a true story of something that happened to me back in sixth grade. Gym classes were attended by two classes together and there was usually competition between the two classes. On this particular day, the two classes faced off at basketball where I became the hero by making the winning basket. Not accustomed to achieving such things, my self esteem rose drastically for a few moments and I made the mistake of recounting my great feat. Now, I wasn’t a great basketball player so when I did, two of the more gifted kids from the other class were quick to point out that the person guarding me when I made that winning shot was of less ability than even me and that had it been them, my heroic feat would never have happened. They both pontificated how they could beat me one on one left handed or blind folded. This reality dented my self esteem although it didn’t entire erase the good feeling I had the rest of that day. Furthermore, because I was the hero in gym class, the normal class bullies left me alone for the rest of that day.
I wish I could go back to that day just for a moment so I could say to those two sore losers, “I know you both could beat me one on one but unlike you, I don’t get many moments of glory so let me have this one.” I know in reality that had I said it, I would have gotten blank stares and some snide comment but it still would have been the right thing to say for my own self esteem.
Of course the next day, everything went back to normal and my heroic deed was quickly forgotten except when one boy from my class, who congratulated me for making the shot the day before, now was claiming that making the basket was just luck. Things quickly went back to normal and it wasn’t long before I went back to being the target instead of the hero and my self esteem again plummeted to its normal low.
This is a constant struggle for many people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Many have a low self esteem brought on by their anxieties no matter how trivial they might seem to the “average” person. For the Asperger’s sufferer, they are real and it’s a constant battle to overcome them. I know of a good number where it’s a struggle just to go out in public. They feel that everyone will be judging them and looking to criticise them. Therefore they choose the safety of staying indoors and having no interaction with anybody.
One major cause of this has to be bullies from youth. It seems that children have a sort of radar for anyone who is different or outwardly seems to lack confidence or just appear as “weird.” Bullies will use this to their advantage playing on the victim’s lack of self esteem to achieve their twisted end. Usually it’s to make the target look bad for their own amusement or often it’s to manipulate that person into doing what they want. A popular one and I’ve experienced this, is to get the victim to do something silly or bad and because the victim, especially if they have Asperger’s, will do the bully’s bidding in the false belief that they have impressed the bully or the bully will leave them alone after that. Playing on somebody’s anxiety or because they have a condition like Asperger’s to intimidate, humiliate, or manipulate is definitely bullying to its rotten core and more attention needs to be paid to this.
Here’s the book link. In “He Was Weird,” Mark is manipulated by such people to tease a girl who is considered unattractive by the populace. The main persuasion they use to get him to be horrible to the girl is if he doesn’t, it means that he likes her. He’s afraid that if people think that, more grief will come upon him so he does it. Does anyone see a snowball effect developing here?
The above incident did happen to me back then and I am now ashamed to have allowed myself to be manipulated in such a way. If I were to run into that girl again, I would apologise for being so horrible to her. The problem will always be that as long as bullies can take advantage of the victim’s low self esteem, it will always remain. And the belief that it can be stopped by raising the victim’s self esteem will have little success. It needs to be stamped out, period.
Next post: A Hidden Form of Bullying