(If it is on your heart to share – please feel free to, we need to protect our students from bullying and raise awareness to the issues facing our at-risk students)
My child is incredibly intelligent, funny, and wonderful. He also has high-functioning autism. Most people who interact with him would never recognize his disorder. This is in part because his father and I have spent years building a support team, researching and trying therapy after therapy, working on social and emotional skills at home, educating ourselves, advocating, and exposing him to interactions and situations that are necessary to life – even when they are overwhelming and hard.
He has been 100% mainlined (in general education classes) since kindergarten with little to no support necessary. Going into his 6th grade year, we made a well thought-out decision to reinstate an IEP (Individual Education Plan) due to the stressful changes that happen in middle school such as switching classes, electives, peers, etc. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year I filled out a request for consent to evaluation for an IEP, gave all of his diagnosis paperwork to the school, as well as signed consent forms to contact all therapists, doctors, and his previous school.
This year, my child has continually dealt with bullies that have been cruel and relentless. I have been in contact with the school every week due to incidents involving him and other boys. These situations can be typical for children with HFA, who can struggle to interact appropriately and read social cues, may invade others space, have aggressive tendencies and act impulsively when they face rejection from peers. I continued to ask for services, and for details on when the IEP or 504 would be completed so we would have protections in place. I was told I would be contacted.
On October 3rd, he was tripped on the playground by another child who had been bullying my son. The result of this episode included lacerations and bruising on the face. There was no incident report recorded by the school and no head injury report filed. We took him to his pediatrician to have a private evaluation for facial trauma. At this point I continued to request services and support from the school.
This did not stop. After a few more incidents and an aggressive situation in November, I was finally told the woman in charge had resigned, and I was put in contact with the person taking over her caseload. I called and left messages with no response.
On December 6th, my child was again assaulted – this time, by multiple other students (3 were aggressors the others were instigating and one allegedly took video/photos) in the library. Fortunately, it was caught on security cameras. He was injured and again suffered bruising and embarrassment. When the staff intervened, they attempted to deescalate him in all the wrong ways – they had no guidance on his triggers or calming tactics that work for him, because there was nothing on record, despite all of my work and advocacy. Heartbreakingly, he was restrained by security which only further escalated the situation and made him feel as though he was at fault.
The following day I requested access security footage, and received a call that the police were on their way to investigate the incident as an assault. Three of the boys were charged by Denver Police with assault and suspended for two days.
More than 100 days into the school year, 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.
This is not okay, our special education students cannot be ignored and pushed to the side. ALL children need a safe environment to learn, and, as parents, we deserve to know what’s happening when we send them to school. Denver Public Schools has failed my child, but, I will not stop advocating for him or for others.
Please feel free to share. We can do better. We have to do better in order to raise a generation of productive, well-adjusted children.
(Photo is from the incident at the beginning of October)
A Colorado-based mother has spoken out about the horrific bullying her 11-year-old son suffers at school on a regular basis.
Ashley Bibbo’s son has high-functioning autism and has been repeatedly assaulted by bullies at school who have left him with lacerations and bruises on his face.
After writing about her son’s tragic experiences in a heartbreaking Facebook post, Bibbo’s story has been widely shared online, with fellow parents offering their condolences and support.