Recently I responded to a piece I read about bullying. Although it's not the point of this post, the article said that adults shouldn't be so quick to intervene in all instances of child bullying. Perhaps the writer has a point here but my response was in defense of those who aren't able to stand up for themselves. When challenged on this point, I brought up people who suffer from Aspergers Syndrome and that many people with the condition aren't lack the skills to properly stand up for themselves. One person responded that Aspergers is no longer considered a medical condition and it is something used by maladjusted people whose parents are of the same ilk to get away with unsocial behaviour. I countered that he should meet the people I work with but still, what this person said about those who have Aspergers Syndrome is not only pig ignorant but an insult to those who genuinely have the condition.

Oddly enough, I do touch on this in my book "He Was Weird." When Mark is officially diagnosed with the condition, not only does it bring more bullying onto him, some of his peers bring up doubts about him really having anything wrong. One classmate states that his father says that Mark's family is playing on his condition to get a ton of money off the government and that they are living off the taxes of working people like a welfare cheat. Of course, because Mark doesn't know if it is true, the bullies assume it must be.

It seems to be a widespread problem, especially in America although The Sun newspaper in the UK tries to make a big thing of it there, that not only those with Aspergers Syndrome but most people with any sort of special needs are lying about their condition. If not lying, at the very least exaggerating their condition so they don't have to work and simply trying to live off welfare. Americans are particularly mistrustful of anyone who qualifies for and accepts financial help from the government. The media doesn't help here either. Journalists may uncover a person who may be trying to cheat the government with a false condition but then they will sensationalize it to make it out that many more people are taking the piss while ignoring those who genuinely suffer from such conditions. The result is that mistrust develops by people who are considered able bodied or minded of those who aren't.

Today, I saw a television ad that put forth the following statistics. Nine out of ten people with special needs will never be offered a job and more importantly more than half those with special needs will have experienced bullying. I do wish that the bullying statistic was more exact because I think the number is much higher than suggested in the ad. However, what they do convey is that persons with special needs aren't trying to cheat the government or make excuses for themselves.

Speaking particularly of people who have Aspergers, I can say that the vast majority of those who have the condition are genuine.  As far as it being a medical condition, a look on the National Autism website will explain it all. What people with Aspergers Syndrome need is support and understanding. What they don't need is ignorant people making light or denying the existence of a condition that is genuinely real for them.

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Published by Michael Lefevre