Bullying is a huge and pressing issue in the autism community. In spite of this, schools do not always handle such situations as well as they should. Case in point: Ashley Bibbo’s heartbreaking story.
Bibbo is the Denver, Colorado, mom of an 11-year-old, anonymous boy on the spectrum. According to her, he is “incredibly intelligent, funny, and wonderful” and has “high-functioning” autism.
Since kindergarten, he has been completely mainstreamed and hasn’t needed much, if any, support. But his parents decided to reinstate an IEP this year, as he was starting middle school. Bibbo diligently filled out and turned in all the paperwork and then waited for the school to do its part.
But it didn’t. Continually inquiring when they’d finish the IEP or 504 so that her son could get the coverage and protection he needed yielded no results; she was simply told that she’d be contacted.
Meanwhile, Bibbo’s son has been a consistent target of bullying, causing her to contact the school every week. In early October, for example, her son was tripped and injured by bullies. However, the school did not file any sort of head injury report.
Then in early December, three students started an incident in the library, while one other stood by and took pictures and video.
The good news: security cameras were filming and staff intervened. The three bullies were charged with assault and punished with two days of suspension.
The bad news: because staff hadn’t completed the IEP work, they were clueless as to how to deescalate Bibbo’s son in this situation.
“Heartbreakingly,” she said, “he was restrained by security which only further escalated the situation and made him feel as though he was at fault.”
If you thought the whole situation couldn’t get any more infuriating, you’d be wrong.
“More than 100 days into the school year,” Bibbo explained, “after two assault incidents, numerous calls and messages and communication with the school administration — I was informed that all of his paperwork had been ‘misplaced’ and his IEP had not been started. But NOW they’d try to fix it.”
“Too late. The damage has been done. My son has been emotionally embarrassed and physically hurt, after working so hard to make progress, and learn to put himself out there and desire friendship and begin trusting others. It may take years to undo this and have him feel safe in school again.”
Bibbo shared this heartbreaking story to Facebook in order to spread awareness and advocacy for children like her son. The post has since gone viral, with multitudes of parents reaching out in concern and support.
“We can do better,” she concluded. “We have to do better in order to raise a generation of productive, well-adjusted children.”
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.