Monday, April 21, 2014

An answer to question of why autistic boy would want to socialize with girl bullies

The story about two cruel girls who have bullied an autistic teen has been gaining a lot of media traction as of late.  These girls compelled him to walk on some ice and when it cracked and he fell into cold water, they had him ride in the trunk of the car.  They allegedly compelled him to masturbate and have sex with a family pet.  They filmed these events on their cell phones.  They've recently been charged criminally and the prosecution is trying to have one of the girls, aged 17, tried as an adult.

The boy has stated that he still considers these girls his friends and wants to continue to socialize with them.

The media have made much of the girls' cruelty and the boy's apparent social naivete in spite of being pretty high functioning and having a high IQ.  A number of people seem to be absolutely baffled as to why he'd want to continue an association with these mean girls or they ascribe it to social impairments.

I'm reminded of my own experiences as a 14-year-old boy in 1969 when I was first mainstreamed in the 8th grade (put a year behind my chronologic peers).  A number of girls would say, "Jonathan, I love you, will you be my boyfriend?" or pretend an interest in me just to make fun of me.  For a brief time, I was socially naive enough to believe some of these girls, though I eventually knew better.

The answer to this question seems likely to be the boy is frustrated from loneliness and celibacy.  This is a problem that is pervasive to a number of autistic people, but the media fail to write about and the neurodiversity movement would just like to sweep  this problem under the rug.  '

A few years ago, autism speaks addressed this issue in a phony baloney PSA, making the bold claim that the insurance mandates that they were lobbying for in various states would make the difference between autistic children having friends and not having friends.  I addressed the validity of this in the post I linked to above. 

I suspect this boy who attends a mainstream school with non-handicapped adolescents has seen others date and have relationships with the opposite sex and is frustrated by this.  He probably has a limited number of friends or maybe no friends at all (of course I'm excluding these girls as friends of his) To me it is very sad that this likely scenario is ignored. 

I'm wondering why the media has ignored this issue completely.  Is it possible, never having been an autistic male, they are unaware of these frustrations?  Or maybe they just don't want to address the real problems persons on the spectrum face because the "feel good" stories sell more newspapers or get more ratings on TV or whatever.  I don't know the answer to this, but I suspect this is the case. 

12 comments:

redtape0652 said...

1) There has been a more involved story about this from the Washington Post. See here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/autistic-md-boy-says-he-wants-to-resume-relationship-with-girls-accused-of-abusing-him/2014/04/20/21551f20-c266-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html

2) I don't agree that the mainstream media is "ignoring" the issue of loneliness and celibacy among people with autism. I think they realize that:
a) autism causes social skills; and
b) people with poor social skills are likely to be lonely and celibate. Therefore it is obvious that people with autism are going to be lonely and celibate. The job of the mainstream media is to report news, not remind us of the obvious.

jonathan said...

They are pondering why this boy would want to be friends with these girls after what they did to him, as if they don't understand. They are claiming he is too impaired socially to understand this, but are really ignoring what his motivation could be, at least in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"2) I don't agree that the mainstream media is "ignoring" the issue of loneliness and celibacy among people with autism. I think they realize that:
a) autism causes social skills; and
b) people with poor social skills are likely to be lonely and celibate. Therefore it is obvious that people with autism are going to be lonely and celibate. The job of the mainstream media is to report news, not remind us of the obvious."

c) Given all the problems that teen pregnancy causes, a teenager being celibate instead of risking teen conception IS NOT A PROBLEM.

D Marcotte said...

Thanks for an interesting article - I agree that the mainstream media ignores a lot of issues around autism, but I think that is because of the complexity. Soundbites and phrases in 140 characters or less sell; long, involved articles do not.

I also wanted to mention a 51 day challenge to educate the public on the many organizations other than Autism Speaks. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/ASDresources?ref=hl

We start the challenge May 1 - I hope you and your readers will consider participating.

Roger Kulp said...

I can totally relate to this boy,and I completely understand why he still wants Lauren Bush and the rest of her gang to be his friends.I've been there.This story pretty much mirrors my experience all through school,from about fifth grade through the end of high school,back in the dark ages of 1970s.I'm surprised you don't understand why he feels this way.After a while you get so desperate for any attention,you interepret the worst sort of abuse as signs of possible friendship.What surprises me,is that with all the supposed awareness of autism,and all the increased numbers,so little has changed in the last forty years.

Jake Crosby said...

It's possible those eighth-grade girls really did like you, Jonathan, but decided to approach you awkwardly because they may have thought you were awkward.

jonathan said...

Uh, no, Jake, they were making fun of me.

Jake Crosby said...

Sorry, Jonathan. :(

Anonymous said...

" Jake Crosby said...

"It's possible those eighth-grade girls really did like you, Jonathan, but decided to approach you awkwardly because they may have thought you were awkward.

" jonathan said...

"Uh, no, Jake, they were making fun of me."

Jake's coming pretty close to the "Don't complain about him/her treating you like that, maybe s/he means well and is just differently showing it!!! You don't want to pick on someone for being different, do you?" thing used to excuse so many cases of people hurting innocent people...

jonathan said...

@Anonymous 9:32, I don't have a clue as to what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

See http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/03/socially-awkward-isnt-an-excuse/ abd the comments for people discussing the trend.

The article says

"...Being socially awkward is often held up as a defense against being labeled “creepy”; it’s another variation of “it’s only creepy if you’re ugly”, but with the vague hints of ableism or social justice for flavor. Almost everyone has been creeped out by someone out only to be told “Aw, he means well. He just doesn’t know any better,” or “Hey, he’s a nice guy! He does so much for us! He’s just a little awkward, you know?” There’s tremendous social pressure to look the other way, to “give him a second chance”

"Let’s run down just what makes someone creepy again:

"Behaving in a manner that makes someone feel uncomfortable, unsafe or threatened.

"Behaving in a manner that pushes against an individual’s boundaries – especially repeatedly."

The "It's possible those eighth-grade girls really did like you" comment sure looks like the "Aw, he means well" comment apart from the gender pronoun.

Jennifer Hughes said...

The Sensory Spectrum is hosting a special blog hop of posts from bloggers in June and we'd love to have you participate! Just imagine a list of bloggers sharing their stories about what it’s like to have sensory kiddos! Read more here: http://www.thesensoryspectrum.com/sensory-bloggers-blog-hop-information/

Joining in on this blog hop will undoubtedly get your blog more exposure as people will hop from one blog to the next to read the stories. I will also be tweeting everyone's stories during the month and highlighting some on my Facebook page.

I hope you'll join us!
Jennifer @ The Sensory Spectrum
(and you can find me @ The Jenny Evolution, too!)