Today, the 18th February is Hans Aspergers birthday. He would have been 99 years old. Hans is the Austrian Pediatrician who first identified the group of behaviors that was later named Aspergers Syndrome. To celebrate Hans’ birthday, Aspergers Victoria invited all of its members to an educational theatre production addressing anti-bullying in schools. “The Protectors”, by Brainstorm Productions, is a one-hour show that gave our boys fantastic resources to help reduce incidences of bullying and encourage resilience, assertiveness and empathy.
Mr 10 year old Aspie Casey was positive he did not want to go. Casey is fearful and anything new and different. If you ask him which movie he’d like to see at the cinema he always asks for one he’s already seen and dreads anything new. So I negotiated that if after 10 minutes of the show he still didn’t like it, we could leave. But he didn’t. Nobody did. The entire audience, Aspie kids, neurotypical kids, parents and friends were all captivated by the brilliant team of actors who played out the life of a couple of school kids dealing with bullying.
Throughout the show we all learnt how to enact our protect shields so that mean words would just bounce off us. We can use our translators to reverse name-calling onto a bully and to be assertive and clever with our responses. We also learnt how important it is to breathe and release before reacting and not to use our strength to respond when angry. The Protectors taught us super powers that with practice will make a big difference in the playground and online.
Question time at the end of the show was almost as entertaining as the show itself as the brilliantly wired audience sought to enlighten the presenters of all the possible flaws in the script and suggest unique strategies for dealing with bullies like “Call Tony Abbott!”
Mr 9 year old Aspie Bailey wanted to know which websites he could be directed to if he needed to follow up on any of the information he had learnt. Very practical of him I thought! Following the production was a party for Hans and as I watched my boys race for the sweet biscuits on the tables and an opportunity to play with the balloons all around the room, I was very thankful to Aspergers Victoria for putting on such a great event.
The Protectors show wasn’t about just protecting yourself. It was also about standing up for others, because "If you’re a bystander to bullying, you’re as bad as the bully yourself". When Bailey first started school a group of boys from grade one, who Bailey had been pestering, surrounded him and pulled down his pants. The school handled it brilliantly and the incident hasn’t been repeated. But the one thing that stood out for me was a little grade one boy Harvey, who went up to Bailey and helped him and made sure that he was okay. I remember at the time thinking how proud I would be if that was my son.
If you have a chance, look up the website:
Encourage your school or group to find room in their budget for this program. I believe every school in Australia should be giving this level of empowerment to their students and then everyone, Aspie or not, would have a better understanding of bullying and the damage it can do, damage, that can last a lifetime. Just ask my husband; he sat there crying throughout the show as it brought back memories of the six months he endured at school being bashed by bullies every day. He wished that he had seen the show as a child and been given the tools he needed to defend himself.
Thank you Aspergers Victoria and Brainstorm Productions. Thank you for making a difference in our kids lives. Please share this blog to encourage the promotion of Anti-Bullying campaigns.