Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on August 18, 2022. The video’s public release will be October 19, 2022.
Hey, everyone Lyric here, and I am a late discovered Autistic adult, and like many other NeuroDivergent People, I experience bullying as a young person… sometimes even as an adult.
If you are Autistic, or NeuroDivergent in some way, and have experienced bullying, bullying, unfortunately, you’re likely not alone in this, because many of us experience bullying, and there are lots of different types of bullying you can experience.
If you’re wondering about some of those types of bullying, I personally experienced, as an undiagnosed Autistic Person, please stay tuned.
First I wanna talk about something that happened regularly. To a lot of people, it might have seemed innocent, or as if people were just trying to be helpful, but that is having people constantly pick at me, and try to encourage me by saying things like, “if you would just apply yourself” or “you only would try harder”, not knowing I was Autistic and NeuroDivergent, and was already trying my hardest, trying much harder than other people, to do certain things.
As an Autistic Person, there are always gonna be things that are harder for me than they are for non-autistic people, because Autistic People and non-autistic people have different strengths and weaknesses, because our brains are different.
Constantly being asked to try harder, when I was already trying my hardest, taught me to ignore my own limits… and, also, taught me that nothing I would ever do would be good enough to people around me, and that I needed to try extra hard to prove myself.
None of which was, actually, true. All of which had extremely negative impacts on my mental health.
Then there were the comments from my peers, and other young people, when I was growing up.
When I would move a certain way, or talk about a subject that other children did not have interest with, I would be called “weird”, or “twitchy”, or the R word, or other things, by the kids.
Other kids, especially little girls, were some of the meanest people I dealt with as a young person, and even teachers often were not helpful.
For example, once I went to one of my teachers, and told them that I was being bullied, and picked on, and the teacher’s response was: “If you would just act normal, the other kids would leave you alone.”
The other thing I, really, struggled with, with teachers, was:
Often, in school, teachers had expectations that I would sit very still, and look at them when they were talking to me, while they were lecturing, and not do anything else, while they were teaching.
Being Autistic and ADHD means, for one, when I am taking in new information, or trying to recall information from my own brain, I am often looking away, because I am visualizing, since I am a visual processor.
I see pictures in my head, when people are talking. So the words, paint pictures for me. If I am looking at someone’s face, I am unable to paint mental pictures, to process and understand what’s being said to me.
In school, this caused a lot of problems. The other thing is, being ADHD, means when something does not catch my interest, or give enough dopamine to my brain, my brain gets bored, and will do other things. Often that is fall asleep.
In school I would draw, or doodle, while a teacher was lecturing, for example. That, because I was doing something else, while the teacher was lecturing, even though I was paying attention, because I wasn’t looking directly at the teacher, while the teacher was teaching, was often taken as me being disrespectful. I was constantly scolded, and punished, because my attention didn’t look like the attention of NeuroTypical kids around me.
I moved around a lot. I struggled to stay in my seat. I was constantly busy, and always moving, or talking to myself, or singing to myself, because I had a lot of excess energy in me- energy I needed to get out.
Teachers often responded by taking away my recess, which was my break time, to go and run, and get all of that energy out of me. It was quite counterproductive, and meant to teach me some lesson, but all it did was make it harder for me to learn.
In school teachers didn’t appreciate all of my extra energy.
My energy is in relation to my intense experience of the world. Sometimes that is intense, joy, intense excitement, intense frustration.
Being happy- I’m really, really happy. I’m so happy that the happiness bubbles out of my body, and I may jump up and down, and I may make noises, and make a big deal out of something that other people might find small… which did get me in trouble in school, also got me mocked, and picked on, by my peers.
This started as a young person, and continued as an adult. People constantly telling me to “stop being dramatic”, or being overly excited about things, or to “grow up”.
All of the types of bullying I’ve mentioned so far, were small. Those little small things, like a million little tiny pen pricks, did add up, over my life… but there were other ways, in which I was bullied, by other people, that were even more hurtful, and traumatic.
For example, when I was a young person, my instinct was to take people for what they said. It never occurred to me that people would lie, or manipulate, or that people would be nice to me because they had ulterior motives, or wanted something from me.
When I was a young Autistic Person, I thought anyone who was nice to me, must be my friend, and found out, unfortunately, the hard way, multiple times, that this was not true.
Some of the meanest, and cruelest, things that were done to me, as a young person, by other young people, were people tricking me into doing things, because I thought they were my friends, but really they were trying to trick me into doing things that would get me in trouble, or that would amuse them. When I was very young, I didn’t understand, yet, that people would sometimes act like you’re friends, to get you into trouble.
The last type of bullying that I’m gonna talk about today is reactive bullying. This one, they got me with a lot of times, especially in school.
What the other kids would do to me was, pick on me, when the teacher wasn’t looking, and they would constantly pick at me, picking at me, pick at me, picking at me. Maybe it was throwing spitballs at me, or poking me in the back, or just doing some constant little thing, every time the teacher wasn’t looking… until I couldn’t take it anymore.
Eventually, I would get boiling mad, like a volcano, and the pressure would build up, and I would turn around and scream at them, or have a reaction.
When this happened, I would be the one who would get in trouble, not the other kid, who was constantly throwing things at me, or smacking me, or poking me, or taking my things, when the teacher wasn’t looking.
That’s all I have to share today.
If you’re a NeuroDivergent Person, and you experienced bullying growing up, or even as an adult, I invite you to share what that was like for you, and the impact that that had on your life.
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3 thoughts on “Autism, ADHD, and Bullying – My NeuroDivergent Autistic/ADHD (AutDHD) Experience”
I relate to all the things you described here, especially the reactive bullying. I didn’t even know there was a term for that, but it was something I dealt with all the time when I was younger. Here are a couple other things people did:
* Gossip and rumors were the worst in high school. People spread rumors that I was on crystal meth, that my father molested me, or that I was going to shoot up the school on the last day. Of course, none of these were true, but the fact that people spread them anyway, and acted like I didn’t know about it, was painful and made me not trust others.
* I was often bullied by both students and teachers due to politics and religion. I went to a Catholic school, but I was never baptized as a child and I eventually became an atheist. This, and the fact that I was a barely closeted gay, meant I got a lot of “you’re going to hell!” speeches from teachers, and got called the f-slur a lot by students. I also got sent to the principal’s office because I wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and criticized the Second Iraq War in class. Even though America is supposed to be a free country, apparently I had to keep those opinions to myself…
Most of the bullying I received as a child and young person was due to the fact that I had no concept of gender. I understood the biological differences related to sex, but social aspects of sex and gender were (and still are to some extent) beyond my ability to comprehend. However, my sensual hypersensitivities, and to a lesser extent my hyposensitivities were also targets for derision. Adults usually targeted aspects such as my avoidance of eye contact, and my inability to mimic “correct” tones of voice or body language as being rude, dishonest, uncooperative and other similarly negative attitudes. I eventually learn’t how to fake most of these which meant adults mostly thought I was just a weird, quiet and lonely kid who kept to himself, but my peers mostly saw through the masking and continued to pick on me relentlessly.
I totally relate to all of this…OMG. I think back on my best “revenge” one boy who constantly picked on me in 8th Grade English class, he kept stealing my pencil case, (it was a little denim bag, I did lots of drawing so I kept all my favorite pencils, erasers, and pens in it.) This kid did this every morning, like a ritual. One day, I had one of those little tools for making circles (a compass) it had a sharp pointy end. I let the tip stick out a tiny bit, not enough to notice, so when he turned around to grab the pencil case, I made to snatch it back like I always do, but I actually pushed it into his hand. He got poked in the hand, and let out a yell that I stabbed him. The teacher knew this kid was always doing this nonsense, it was disruptive that he was forever scolding this jerk, so he had his daily trigger too. (I could see that he tried not to laugh.) He came over, looked at the boy’s hand (yup it was a bleeder.) He looked at me, examined my pencil case for the sharp object, didn’t see it (or if he did, he didn’t acknowledge it) and gave it back to me with a wink. He sent the kid to the nurse’s office with a warning to leave my things alone from now on, there are consequences (what goes around comes around) and he just experienced one. He was one of the few sympathetic teachers I had.