A Letter to Those Who Bully People With Special Needs
When I was in public school, I used to be bullied by people like you. You would see me in the corner, usually trying to keep to myself, and wonder why I was there. Other times you would see me having issues reading out loud in class and snicker while I tried to pronounce different words. You’d take my inability to understand sarcasm as a way to get me in trouble. Worst of all, you’d make me feel like an outsider when more than anything I wanted to fit in.
Words can hurt people. Whether or not you understand the impact you have, please try to put yourself in the shoes of the people you harass. If you did, you’d know that I struggled as a kid, and many people do at times — not only those with special needs, but anyone who may not be classified as “normal.” Some people can’t stand up for themselves due their different limitations when a bully attacks them.
Today most bullying has stopped for me, thankfully. I spent 15 years working on physical, occupational and speech therapy to become an adult who has been able to thrive. I’ve become a speaker, traveling around the country to share my personal experiences with bullying and to help educate people on the harmful effects that behavior such as yours can have on others.
I want to share this letter with you in the hopes that if you ever read it, you’ll think again before you bully someone who may seem a little bit different than you are. You may not know this, but one in five Americans today has a disability. I hope you can learn compassion. I hope if you ever have kids or someone who looks up to you, you can help them understand the harmful effects of bullying. People just don’t bully in school. They can be bullies anywhere.
With your support today, we can break down barriers of hate and intolerance. Then we can spread awareness. Then we can spread education.
And finally, then we can see our loved ones, people like me, being accepted for exactly who they are. What a wonderful world that would be to live in.
A version of this post originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.
The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.