Those who don’t understand disabilities can be utterly cruel to those who have them.
The story of Gavin Joseph, an Illinois teen with Asperger’s and ADHD, is a heartbreaking example.
One Thursday night, a person who didn’t know Gavin overheard a group of people talking about him. They said it was “weird” and “creepy” that he was always alone, always watching people, and always trying to befriend strangers.
The eavesdropper “decided to take matters into his own hands and become judge and jury,” as Gavin’s mother, Cortnie Stone put it.
“He didn’t ask questions, didn’t get to know Gavin, never met him, and didn’t give him a chance to leave. [Gavin] was called to meet someone, surrounded by people he didn’t know, choked, punched, and left laying [sic] on the pavement so he would ‘learn his lesson.'”
The attack gave him a fractured nose, bruised esophagus, slight concussion, and a hematoma in his eye.
But when his attackers were caught, Gavin rejected the opportunity to press criminal charges. He opted for a more productive and creative punishment, instead: education.
He requested that his bullies complete disability-related community service, write an essay on Asperger’s syndrome, and watch a 20-minute video in the presence of their families — a video that Gavin recorded, in which he shared his perspective on the incident.
It was a brilliant decision on his part — one filled with grace and incredible wisdom.
“I am so proud of him, and I hope a lesson will come of this to all that hear about it,” Cortnie said in a Facebook post that her friend, Susan Moffatt shared.
Learn 9 different ways people on the spectrum can deal with bullying by clicking “Next.”
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.