Stephanie Wang – is mother to Jaran who has autism and recently decided to start a campaign in order to educate people about invisible disabilities. She has set up a Facebook page, Protectors not Bullies which state, ‘We pledge to educate our children on the disabilities that we can’t “see” so they know how to deal with awkward, quirky or not typical behavior.’
This is part 2 of our interview with Stephanie. Part 1 can be found here.
I just want to mention your video and how it touched me? Was there a particular incident that sparked it? Or an idea that brewed over time?
Jaran started middle school at a new school. Periodically I would hear about a particular boy who was bugging him. I tried to teach him all kinds of things to deal with mean kids. One day he had an incident at school where this particular boy and another were preventing him from doing something in class. Jaran got really upset and said something that was impulsive and inappropriate. The school dealt with it in an appropriate way and Jaran was moved into a different schedule that would keep him away from this child. Unfortunately, his inappropriate comment got around school and someone started a rumor. The parents of one of the children were concerned and without knowing all of the information (schools cannot give out personal information about my son), they called the police. My son was questioned and it was determined that he was not a threat. My son is impulsive and does not have a filter. So when he gets upset because others are pushing his buttons or keeping him from doing something he doesn’t know how to react. If these students hadn’t been teasing him, he would not have had to change his class and he would not have had to deal with police. I was frustrated, angry and hurt for my son. I wanted parents of typical kids to understand that we need help. We need them to teach their children that quirky children, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, shouldn’t be treated poorly. So I made a video.
Where do you see the future of Protectors not Bullies and are there any further plans?
I’m not sure to be honest. This just started out as a video plea and turned into a Facebook page. I had someone post whether or not there was an event they could participate in! I am just going where I feel God is leading me. I have had thoughts in the past of starting a school educational assembly that focuses on the positive and educates them on what is out there (i.e. different personalities, disabilities, home issues). But for now I’m sticking with the Facebook page and trying to put stuff on there to help the audience. I will be starting a Tip of the Week and I will go from there. I am the only one who is working on the page.
I finally asked Stephanie:
What message would you like to give our readers who perhaps have children on the spectrum who are being bullied?
For those with special needs children, help your child to understand their own disability and help them to be proud of themselves. Help them to be strong and proud of who they are and the uniqueness that they share with the world. Don’t let them feel ashamed of their disability by trying to hide it from everyone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Help them discover their unique talents and let them shine.
For those with typical children, educate your children on the disabilities that can’t be seen. Help your child understand that sometimes the quirky or awkward behavior is because that child may have a disability. It just means they think differently or experience the world differently, and just like we wouldn’t tease someone who is blind or in a wheelchair, we shouldn’t tease these children because they behave differently. Teach them how to stand up to bullies and learn to be a protector of those who need to be protected.
And for all parents, communicate with others!! People have stopped talking to teach other and they are afraid of confrontation. Sometimes a situation has extenuating circumstances that you may not know about. Talk to the other child’s parent. Open up dialogue. Who knows you may discover you are both going through the same thing.
I would like to thank Stephanie for taking the time to answer my questions and wish her luck in her futute plans.
Protectors Not Bullies can be found on Facebook here