Ending Bullying Against Autistic Kids

Tools

by WDJT Editor

WAUKESHA -- Kids with disabilities are often targets of bullies. Justus Budde, 13 of Waukesha, is autistic and fell victim to a bully during the summer. "A boy hit me hard on the chest," he says.

"I think this boy was just jealous he was talking to girls, and he came up and slapped him on the back so hard it created this red welt," says Justus' mother, Chelsea Budde.

Chelsea thinks the bully targeted her son because he is autistic. "He knew that Justus would be slower to respond, that Justus would not be able to muster an effective response to that kind of bullying to that kind of assault. That's why he did it."

She says kids with disabilities are four times more likely to get picked on. That motivated her to start a non-profit organization called Good Friend. Organizers use a video and give presentations to educate kids about the disorder that includes impaired social skills.

"We equip them with the awareness acceptance and empathy tools that they need to be good friends and everyone gets along so much better and it creates this culture of acceptance."

The Good Friend program also encourages students to speak up when they see bullying and not worry about feeling like a tattle-tale.

"Trying to get someone in trouble is a lot different than trying to get someone out of trouble."

Justus says kids at Horning Middle School understand him now and go out of their way to make him feel welcome.

"It makes me happy," says Justus.

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