Autistic Iowa student Levi Null, 13, is getting blamed for the bullying he has received at school. After another teen posted a video online of his involuntary movements caused by Asperger’s Syndrome and him getting hit by his peers, it’s Levi who is receiving a lot of the community backlash.
“They’re hitting him upside his head,” Levi’s mother, Dawn Simmons said according to the Daily Mail. “You know, smacking him. Just, um, the teachers are aware of it. A lot of them turn their backs.”
While the father of the teen who posted the video says it was wrong, he believes Levi brings most of the bullying on himself.
“Yes he does,” Levi Weatherly, the father of the teen accused of posting the video. “I would say three-fourths of this stuff he brings on himself and probably a fourth of it is the bullying that shouldn’t be going on.”
Apparently Weatherly isn’t the only one who feels this way. Several commentators on WHO TV have slammed 13-year-old Levi for his own actions against other students.
“He called my nephew a nasty name and my nephew Cole cocked [sic] him in the mouth,” Jamie Harrison wrote. “I’m proud of my nephew for doing that.”
Another commentator, Nate Goof, wrote, “This kid has done things to get people mad that I think he could probably control.”
What these folks don’t know, apparently, is that people with autism can’t control their actions as others can, explains autism specialist Evelyn Horton.
“Individuals with autism don’t have the ability to turn it off and turn it on,” Horton said. “They may sometimes respond to the environment that they’re in and respond more strongly than they may at other times.”
Levi’s mother says now she is being bullied as well.
“Horrible,” Simmons said. “Exhausting. Lost of Facebook messages, posts, families fighting battles, arguments over the community, the school, the staff – its been a very frustrating day for all of us.”
The principal at Levi’s school, Melcher-Dallas High School sent an email to Levi’s mother saying the video posted online was not found to be bullying because it did not meet the criteria, according to WHO TV.
The teen who posted the video was disciplined under the school’s intolerance and bigotry rules, but not for bullying.
“We try our best to educate our staff, educate our students to react to the cases and investigate the cases that we have but ultimately it’s gotta come down to the kids to take ownership of this and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”
A study published last year in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that students with austism spectrum disorders were victimized more often than students who do not. The study also found that they were more likely to be perpetrators of bullying,
Sources: Huffington Post, WHO TV