Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

Do We Still Care?

I can’t help but worry about the world a lot. Not just the planet and our future, I worry about our future as people. I often ask myself: ‘Does any of us really care?’

Last week I told you about Mr. Jester, but I didn’t tell you how he saved me. He saved me because he cared, not about me personally, but about people. He saved me in the only way available to him – by taking focus from those who bullied me in class. Unfortunately, it was the teachers who were the worst.

I know, it shouldn’t be like that. Teachers are supposed to see and stop bullying, but life is not always like that. Sometimes it is exactly those who are supposed to protect us who hurt us the most.

It started almost right after I started attending a new school when one of the teachers singled me out. We mainly had two teachers, and when one of them had chosen me as one of their victims, the other followed her example. Mr. Jester was often there, trying to make a fool of himself and catching the attention of the teachers. I am not sure if he did it intentionally or if he simply felt compelled to step in between us in whatever way he could, but I was always be grateful to him and I will always feel guilty that I could never help him in return.

It wasn’t just me though, we were all scared. The whole class was broken apart and afraid. We were all getting physically sick and didn’t want to go to school, but who would want to?

It got worse over time. The second teacher, she got really bad – worse than the first – but I don’t blame her. After I changed schools again, my mum realised what was happening and unable to change things even though she tried and felt she had to at least take me away from there, I heard from my mum what happened. The second teacher was sick and committed to a pretty strict mental institution. I can’t help but wonder if the first teacher saw this and used it actively or if she didn’t understand what she did when she encouraged her co-worker. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter. The damage is done and all we can do is pick up the pieces.

The two teachers encouraged the bullying both inside and outside of the classroom.

In the area I grew up there was a game the children used to play, directly translated it was called ‘Dead Wall’ and it was awfully popular as I was growing up. It was rather simple, all you needed to play was a tennis ball and wall of some kind. We had many games where all you needed was a tennis ball, but most of them were safe and innocent. This game got quite rough, at least it did when the boys played it all alone. There was an unwritten rule that when girls played you would always be more careful.

The rules were simple. One person got the tennis ball and stood a bit away facing the wall while all the other players would stand against it. You were always supposed to touch the wall, if you didn’t, you died. Then the person holding the ball would throw it and try to hit people. Boys playing would throw the ball as hard as they could, but they would hold back when girls played too. Sure, once in a while kids got bruises and stuff, but never anything too bad.

The game was never hidden but played in the middle of the school yard. Teachers could always see it, it would be impossible not to.

When I was little, and even now as well, making friends was always difficult. When I was young, I tried really hard to be whatever people wanted me to be, but now I am feeling better about myself and I worry less about it. I still worry and I am still afraid, but now I would rather be alone than force myself into someone else’s box. Back then, when people asked me to play, I was so happy that I didn’t even care who asked. I just wanted desperately to have a friend.

That’s the main reason that when the kids in my class, never Mr. Jester though, asked if I wanted to play Dead Wall, I said yes. I was probably stupid, but I always said yes. Every time I wished that things would be different, but sadly they weren’t.

The rules got changed when I played. Now, I was the only one against the wall and everyone else – not just the kids in my class but the older ones too – stood in a great half-circle around me. Often, they had more than one tennis ball. They threw the ball, or the balls, at me as hard as they could. I didn’t even touch the wall, but they didn’t care. I couldn’t leave. I was trapped.

I don’t blame them. I am not angry.

I am sad, but not because of what they did, I am sad because I know we were all in pain and reacted in whatever way we could. That was when I started thinking that something was wrong, but it wasn’t until I was 10 that I realised that I wasn’t like everyone else. Back then I was simply trying to survive, it was my only focus. I needed to blend in and never make anyone notice, because when they did it got worse. I stayed like that for most of my life, and even today, I feel scared when people notice me. I feel myself flinch and want to run away when someone talks to me, even if it is someone I want to talk to.

It is not the only reason I’m like this, but it is part of the reason. I think, one event is not enough to break most of us. Repeated negative experiences are unlikely not to.

The reason I’ve told you all this is because someone should have seen it earlier. Everyone in that class was in pain, it is impossible that no other parent noticed except for my mother. When my mum realised what was going on, she talked to the other parents, and there was so many who knew that class wasn’t right. How is it that no one did anything? There were more than two teachers at that school, did no one really notice so many kids in pain?

It’s not about finding someone to blame, it’s because I’m worried about our future.

I am worried we have started to care too much about being comfortable and forgotten to care for each other.

When we see others in pain, do we help or look away?

Looking away may feel safer, more comfortable, but I don’t think it’s right. We all have a social responsibility to care about each other – at least in my opinion. Caring is not something you are born with, it’s something that you train. It is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. If you don’t use it all… Well, you know the answer, don’t you?

It’s not easy, it can be more painful than anything else to care for others. This is also vital – it’s not just that we care about each other, we need to be willing to care for the people around us everywhere.

There’s a difference. When you care about someone else, I am not saying it’s bad to do so, then you are not necessarily going to help them out when they need it. You care, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your own comfortable existence for that person. When you care for others, you want to help because not doing so is more uncomfortable than not helping.

I think we all need to train ourselves more – we need to learn to take better care of each other. We need to not be afraid to go over to a stranger and ask if that person is okay or need help when they look like they do. They get to say no too, if they don’t want help. Some might say yes. Some might have a different life depending on whether or not we care enough to help.

When I was little and in school any number of people could have stepped in and done something. No one did. What happened to me, and far, far worse I might add, happens every day in schools all over the globe. Will you step in when you see it? Will you notice at all?

My greatest fear here is not that I won’t help in the way they need it; my fear is that I won’t notice at all. I am afraid it could happen right in front of me and I wouldn’t see it. That’s why we all need to do this together. One person might miss it when a kid is abused or bullied, but certainly we won’t all miss it.

We need to care; we need to make it a priority in our lives that we care about people and care for them too. We need to be brave and step up to the challenge. Of course, never through violence, arguments or fights. We need to do this from a place of love and compassion, not fear or anger.

The kids who bullied me were not evil – they were afraid. They were in pain, just like I was.

The second teacher, the one who became worse than all of them, she wasn’t evil. She was someone who needed help too. She needed someone to care enough for her to step in and ask if she was okay, to tell her things weren’t right and to help her get help. She was a victim, just like we all were.

I am not even angry at the first teacher. I was a difficult kid in some ways, I was smart and asked questions she didn’t know the answer too. I was quick and excited to learn, but I didn’t know how to interact – I was just an 8-year-old kid who had not yet been diagnosed with ASD. I was not the only one to challenge her, perhaps I was just the last one she could handle. I don’t know what made her react the way she did, nor do I blame myself. I don’t know her past and anything could have happened to break her and make her react in ways most of us would never imagine doing. She in a way is a victim too, because she needed someone to care for her too.

We all need someone to care for us once in a while, and in my opinion, the only thing to do when we don’t feel that anyone cares about us or helps us is to do what we can to care about others and help them. If no one helps me, I pray I can find the strength to help others. If no one helps you, will you stop trying to care about helping others or will you be brave and go out and make sure it never happens to anyone else?

I heard a man, whose whole family had been brutally killed during a civil war, talk about what path he had wanted to take in life; a path of violence and revenge against what was done to him or a path of making peace. He felt the strong pull of both. He chose peace. I hope one day we all will.


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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