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Autism Organizations: Which Ones Do You Trust?

  • Posted on July 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM

There are many autism organizations out there—from ASAN to Autism Speaks and all sorts of organizations in between and among them.

They all have their own agendas, their own missions, their own purposes. They each behave differently, though there are similarities. Their memberships are different, though there are similarities.

Which ones do you trust and why?

Up until now I’ve steered clear of joining any organizations, because there are often legitimate voices criticizing each one. I did my stint in politics before my children’s diagnoses and my experiences destroyed my faith in the integrity of political organizations. It is far too easy for political organizations to lose sight of their original agendas, to play lip service to those agendas, while directing the efforts of the organization into some expedient side-road. And that’s for those organizations with legitimate goals in the first place.

I’m not sure I’ll ever go back on that decision. But membership—that commitment—isn’t the only form of participation. Still, it’s difficult to know which organizations are worthy of becoming an ally and which organizations are too vested in their own self interest that they act at the expense of the causes they proclaim to support, the causes that are their public reason for existence.

So, which autism organizations do you support and why? How do you show that support?

Review: Joyful Noise

  • Posted on July 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Surprise!  I wasn’t expecting to do another review quite so soon.  I wasn’t expecting to have anything to review for this blog’s audience.  Then, I watched Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah (who plays Vi Rose) and Dolly Parton (who plays G.G.) and knew I had another review.

Now, going into this movie, I didn’t expect the topic of autism to come up.  Yet, when Walter, the son of Vi Rose, appeared I had to wonder.  His behavior, even in the brief snippet in the car, seemed familiar.  Then, at the table, it seemed likely, but I still wasn’t expecting for them to come out and say it.

Then, in trying to explain away his apparent rudeness to Randy, a new-comer to their party, Vi Rose says, “There’s really nothing you can do when he’s like this.  This is Asperger’s Syndrome.”  The young man sits down, striking an accepting and friendly tone of behavior, and interacts on with him on Walter’s terms—and makes a connection.

Of course, this kind of interaction is not what the movie is about.  The movie is about a church choir (and the people within the choir) trying to give their struggling town something to cheer about by competing in a national music competition.  It’s also about how Randy and Vi Rose’s daughter fall in love.  Still, this extra element adds unexpected depth and weight to the storyline.

For a good fifteen minutes, Walter doesn’t appear again.  But when he does, he talks about how it feels to be the outcast, to not understand the social cues that drive our intensely social world, and how it feels to be bullied.  Randy makes a few missteps—the alien metaphor is used, unfortunately—but overall the scene shows once again how well they connect and what it means to connect—when to accept limits and when to push/encourage someone to do something they enjoy.

The scene that really gets me, though, is when Walter tells his pious mother that he hates God, because God made him “this way.”  He also confesses that he wants to be normal for his mother’s sake.  She says, “When someone don’t fit into a neat little box, the answer ain’t to squeeze them in even harder.  You build a bigger box.”

Part of the reason this scene struck me was because it shows how our actions often conflict with our beliefs.  Vi Rose believes what she says.  She means what she says.  But, at the same time, Walter’s feelings don’t come from a vacuum.  Often our actions are shaped by in-grained prejudices we may not even be aware of, and that’s the case in this story.  Vi Rose loves her son.  She’s proud of her son.  At the same time, she’s embarrassed by him.  She fumbles to explain him—the scene at the dinner table, for example.  All these behaviors send signals about the way she sees him to him and to others, signals that belie her words of love and acceptance.  She’s completely unaware of what she’s doing, of course, which is why she’s so surprised to hear that message translated back to her by her son.  She doesn’t mean it, but she lives it and it shows.

We all need to take care that our actions don’t belie the words of love and acceptance we shower on our children, because our actions speak louder than our words.

A Writing Opportunity

  • Posted on July 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

After recently reviewing a collection of essays, it seems altogether appropriate to announce a current opportunity to be included in such a collection.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is compiling a collection of stories about raising kids on the spectrum.  So if you are raising a child with autism and you’d like to share some of your story, you might consider submitting a piece.  Here are the details from the website:

“If you are the parent of a child with autism or Asperger’s, we invite you to share your story about raising your child - the ups and downs, the effect on your family, your child’s special attributes and talents, and the lighter moments too. You may use a “pen name” on your story. These stories will provide advice, comfort and insight to other parents in the same situation. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is September 30, 2012.

Happy writing!!!

Review: A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism

  • Posted on July 18, 2012 at 4:19 PM

I received an unexpected package a while back.  One day I went into class and a box was waiting for me, care of my graduate school advisor.  Inside were two books and a card.  Apparently, my advisor had talked with a former student and I came up in the conversation.  The former student, who is also the mother of a child with autism, sent me two collections in which her writing on her experiences raising a child with autism had appeared.

A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism, edited by Colleen Sell, and published in 2007, was one of the two books.  Mostly, the writer was trying to make a connection—and she succeeded.  I’m reviewing the book because it’s just part of what I do.

First, though, I must caution my readers.  I don’t review a whole lot of memoirs and have yet to review an essay collection on this site, mostly because I avoid them.  Early on in this beautiful mess, I received (and purchased) many memoirs.  Most of the stories were dark, degrading, desperate attempts to find a cure for their child’s autism—some even claiming to have succeeded.  I got jaded on memoirs like that pretty fast.

So, when making any kind of recommendation, especially when a book promises “Stories of Hope and Everyday Success,” part of what I’m looking for is a break from this effort to capitalize on the darkest possible view of autism.  I strongly prefer books that challenge the preconceived notion that autism is some horrible thing that is done to unwitting families—a malignant force.  In my experience, prejudice and stigma is the much stronger, much more pervasive malignant force.

I started with the writer’s story, of course, and responded to her.  (You can find Leaving Literalville on page 176, and it’s a very good essay, highly recommended.)  I have since gone back and read the whole thing.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the promise of this book was fulfilled.  Most of the stories were written by parents who had come to see the value and worth of their children, and had either always cherished them just as they were or had come to do so.  Of course, there were a painful few who boldly claimed they still needed to cure their children—and that seems to rather discredit their claims of acceptance and value, but, then again, it’s impossible to know whether these parents have thought about what that cure might cost their child.

What should a reader get from such a book?  Tears, smiles, laughter, joy, a sense of renewed hope and a feeling that accomplishments are possible.  Yup—it’s all there.  Most of the stories were fresh and compelling.  A few dragged.  A few seemed like the writers’ were trying to force what they really wanted to write about within the confines of the anthology’s objective.  But, mostly, I would say the book was a success.  A few stories surprised me.  Others made me wonder.  Overall, I found most of them familiar and uplifting—or at least not depressing.

One of the things I really and truly love about this piece, however, is the wide selection of points of view represented.  It seems most of us gravitate towards those we agree with, and there are some pretty compelling reasons for that, but in order to grow we need to be challenged.  We need to look at things through different eyes, at least for a while.  That, of course, doesn’t mean we don’t have to like what we see.  We don’t have to get comfortable in that point of view.  But the people we disagree with deserve to be heard, too, and maybe if we all did more listening (or, in this case, reading) we’d be able to work together much, much better.  Imagine what we could accomplish then!

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

  • Posted on July 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM

This movie about the problems a child, particularly a child with neurological differences, has in processing events that, in the mother’s words, just don’t make sense.  A little boy loses his father, whom he identifies with and who understands him, to the 9/11 attacks.  A year later he finds a key; keys unlock something; and he thinks if he can find what the key unlocks he can hold onto his father for a little longer, maybe forever.  The unspoken message is that he hopes, by fulfilling this mission, he can make sense of his father’s death.

But his father’s death doesn’t make sense.  Some things don’t, no matter how hard we try to make sense of them.  As human beings, we have to live with the nonsensical.  But some of us struggle with that more than others.

I never endured a significant loss and I never lived anywhere quite as busy and overwhelming as New York City.  As a child, I wasn’t nearly so conscious of my own anxiety or my sensory overload.  Yet, I identify with the little boy in this movie as he struggles to overlay order on chaos, as he tries to make sense of the nonsensical, as he clings to what provided him with comfort and understanding, as he fights against his own limitations, and as he experiences the world with a heightened sense of determination.

I also get the mother, who isn’t quite like her son, who has been left without the interpreter that helped her to meet his needs, and her determination—and struggle—to fill in the large gap left by her husband while dealing with her own grief and loneliness and confusion and pain.

But there is another side of this.  A side that could give advocates fits.

This movie could be perceived one of two ways:

  • It skirts the implications of an Asperger’s diagnosis by focusing on the experiences of the main character without labeling them.
  • It abdicates its “responsibility” to make a conscious point concerning the limiting effects of diagnostic politics in providing appropriate care and support to those who need it.

As a writer, I understand why it would be important to skirt the issue of autism.  For one, unless you live it, it’s very difficult to research well enough to satisfy the critics among those who do live it.  Somebody’s always going to find fault with your portrayal, even if you are intimately familiar with autism, because you’re not intimately familiar with their autism.  Second, by labeling the experiences of a character, you tend to distance viewers who don’t identify with the label from the character’s experiences.  Third, by labeling a character, you label your movie in a way that dominates the story.  So, I can certainly empathize with the decision not to label the character.

On the other hand, involving people with the appropriate label can minimize criticism of your portrayal while also grounding the character in reality.  Labeling the character also validates the truth that stories about people who are labeled in a similar manner are worth telling, which also validates the humanity of those who share the label.  Finally, by labeling a character you challenge people’s preconceived prejudices that people who carry the label are “other” and therefore they cannot be identified with.  So, I can certainly empathize with those who are disappointed in the choice not to label the character.

Perhaps more importantly, the choice to almost label the character brings up an entirely new issue.  According to the main character, the tests for Asperger’s were inconclusive.  By what the movie shows, the child was challenged with a disability.  He faced barriers to his goals that consisted of the combination of his own neurology and a world designed not to accommodate his neurology.  Over the course of the story, he had to face and overcome (or not) those barriers himself.  Yet the movie doesn’t address how the lack of a label prevented the boy from accessing services that could have helped him.  The movie didn’t address the unfairness or inadequacy of services, which it could and arguably should have done.

So, while I applaud the story, I can’t help but be disappointed in the lack of a conscious attempt to address the failure to effectively support this family—at least, to acknowledge that supports, accommodations and other services could have benefited this family.

Passing it Along

  • Posted on May 17, 2012 at 3:52 AM

I recently received two requests to pass along information.  I’ve chosen to honor these requests, because readers may find this information relevant and helpful.

First, a medical billing and coding blog has compiled a list: “50 Great Twitter Feeds for Autism Support.”  Some may be familiar to you, others may be new.

Second, I was contacted by Jamie Sue Austin of The Barefoot Review, asking for support for this literary magazine.  The Barefoot Review is a literary magazine/e-zine for people with disabilities and their families, friends, and caretakers to express their feelings and share part of themselves with the reading public.  This magazine is published bi-annually, and the first issue (Winter 2011) is available.

Please check out either or both of these new resources and let me know what you think!

What Can We Do?

  • Posted on February 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM

On January 31, the Autism Society of America and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network issued a joint statement condemning the proposed changes to the autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the DSM-V.  Along with this united statement, I’ve read articles, posts, and other statements that have convincingly implied (or stated outright) that the proposed changes are motivated by politics, not science.

I’m not going to rehash these arguments in an effort to try to convince those who support the proposed changes not to do so; nor am I going to try to convince those who are undecided to stand against these politically-motivated changes.  Plenty of people are doing that already.

What I would like to do is act.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure what can be done.  So, instead, I’m going to ask:

What can we do about it?

Joining in Effort

  • Posted on January 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM

I don’t know why, but my browser really hates The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.  While I don’t share my browser’s animosity, it does impede my access to the site.  So, instead of trying to comment there, I will respond here to the post Shannon Des Roches Rosa wrote called How Autism Parents Can Listen to Self-Advocates.

First, I agree with the premise.  It’s important for all those invested in the issues of autism (not limited to parents) to listen to self-advocates, even when what self-advocates say is uncomfortable or goes contrary to what we believe—especially then.

It’s important to listen.  It’s important to consider what others are saying and to look for the material content in their words.  But, it’s more than that.

Communication is an imperfect art.  When we speak or write, we think we are sharing ideas, but we’re not.  We are sharing words, looks, tones, behaviors, ect., which convey meaning; that meaning is then translated within the brains of our audience and interpreted.  Only by communicating and re-communicating (involving multiple attempts at listening and speaking/acting) can we determine how effectively we’ve exchanged our ideas.

This, by the way, is true for everyone—even people who are very much alike.  The more two people communicate successfully and create a mutually understood short-hand, the quicker this process becomes.  When you’re communicating with collectives, versus individuals, we still tend to use whatever communication short-cuts we’ve become accustom to, but this short-hand will almost always be interpreted differently by the different members of your audience.  Thus, reliance on communication short-cuts is not effective, with a few specific exceptions.

Furthermore, when you’re communicating with someone new, you have to test each other’s understanding to communicate successfully—no short-hand exists between you.  The greater the differences between the two of you, then there is an even greater possibility for mutually exclusive interpretations in your attempts to communicate.  A common example within our own community is when a parent defines autism as “like my child” within their own mind, and is all too ready to exclude anyone who is not autistic the way their child is autistic.  This difference in definition creates a communication barrier, since most people do not mean “like that person’s child” when they say autism.  On the other hand, too many self-advocates seem to think ally means “people who agree with me” or some equally inappropriate definition.  However, when I think of ally, I think of the way the U.S. and Britain are allies; they don’t always agree and they don’t always work together, but they do have common interests and work together to further those interests—but don’t always do so very well.

Shannon wrote:

“If we parents say that we want to have conversations with self-advocates, then we need to do the human thing, and truly listen, try to come into self-advocates’ spaces, rather than always expecting them to come into ours.”

This is where, essentially, I must disagree.

Both approaches miss the mutual nature of communication.  I agree that it is wrong for parents (or anyone else) to expect autistic self-advocates to come into their “space” in order to communicate.  It’s a habitual expectation (part of the “privilege” thing mentioned in the post), but it’s ineffective—regardless of who the communicators are.  Thus, it is equally wrong, if also habitual, to try to go into the “other’s” space.  Firstly, this transfer of mental space is not really possible—it’s in our imaginations.  I suspect that if we really checked every time we guessed how someone else feels or what they’re thinking about or how they’ll react, internally, to a specific stimulation, then we could blow this whole “theory of mind” b.s. out of the bloody water for good.  Second, our words and expressions are merely tools to facilitate communication.  We have to check our mutual understanding—ensure we’re both using these tools the same way—in order to communicate successfully.

Effective communication is going to happen in a mutual “space,” an in-between that requires us to join our efforts in order to communicate.  In the online dialogue, this is most likely to happen in the comments.  A blog post is for a wider audience; comments are, often, for specific, individual communicators.

There are certain online spaces, specific blogs and forums, which have created, over time, a unique space where dialogue happens on a shared basis.  But, in my experience in the greater autism community, most of these spaces are dysfunctional—preferring a side to a dialogue.

In short, we should listen.  We should ask for clarification and for explanations, even if we’re sure we know what the other person means because we know what we would mean if we said what they said.  We should invest ourselves in creating a mutual “space” where communication can occur, and we should base this shared space on mutual understanding and mutually agreed-upon definitions or meanings.

This, obviously, requires effort from both parties.  If one party—and it doesn’t matter which it is—is talking, expecting to be heard, without making the effort to be understood and to understand in return, then the communication attempt has failed.

The communication attempt has failed.

This does not, however, mean that parents (or other interested parties) should not make accommodations for those with communication disabilities.  The very act of creating a communication “space” is an act of mutual accommodation, and if one participant has communication disabilities than that must be a factor in determining how the accommodations must be made.  But, again, it goes both ways.  Both communicators must recognize that the participants are unique to each other and their intentions and their needs are equally unique.  To communicate successfully, such unique understandings and interpretations must be taken into account.  You can’t come in with all your baggage, knowing what you expect, and projecting your expectations onto the other person.

For communication success, both parties must make a joint effort to understand and to be understood.

This is not common practice.  This is decidedly rare.  We’re all so busy spouting off our opinions, our beliefs and our ideas that we don’t take time to communicate them to others.  But growth comes from communication.  Change comes from communication.  Progress comes from communication.  Unless we take the time to create mutual spaces necessary for successful communication, we will not create the growth, the change, and the progress we need to make this world a better place for ourselves and those who follow.

Why It’s Not Okay

  • Posted on January 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Sharon of The Tumultuous Truth recently posted about Alison Singer in response to this and this

I remember watching “Autism Every Day,” knowing in advance that it would be a problem for me.  I was warned.  But it was worse than I had imagined.  (No, I’m not going to link to it.)

At the time, I was struggling.  Raising three children with autism, even with adequate supports, is difficult.  When there are problems with the supports or the supports are inadequate, it’s worse—a lot worse.  I’m not one to minimize that.  Nor is it wrong to express that.

BUT…and this is a big, huge BUT

It’s one thing to express frustration, to express our feelings of being overwhelmed, our feelings of betrayal, our feelings of inadequacy and all those negative feelings that go along with them…and it’s a whole different thing to fantasize about killing one’s child.

AND…another big one…

It’s yet another thing to tape record ourselves fantasizing about killing our children for a viewing audience to raise funds for…well, for anything.  I don’t care if you’re raising funds for Murders Anonymous (to my knowledge there is no such organization, but then again society has yet to cease to amaze me), you just don’t do it.  Not if you’re an ethical person, not if you’re a loving parent.

Why not?  Really, if you need an answer…  [grumbling to self]  Because murder is wrong.  Because murdering an innocent child is especially wrong.  Because murdering your own innocent child is even more especially wrong.  Because fantasizing about murdering your child brings you one step closer to actually doing it.  Because publicizing your fantasy is actually advocating that mind-space.  Because advocating that mind-space could lead to other people—people who are mentally ill and not altogether reasonable—thinking that mind-space is safe, justified, and right.

I must admit that I cannot imagine what it would take to fantasize about murdering my children.  I cannot imagine it.  I cannot imagine the mind-space Alison was in when she thought about that.  I cannot imagine the mind-space of the people who’ve followed through with their gruesome fantasies.  I have had some very low points.  I know despair.  I really, really do.  But even at my lowest point I never once fantasized about killing my kids.  I cannot even imagine it.

My advice for people in that mind-space—seriously without any humor or any sarcasm—is this:  GET PSYCHIATRIC HELP NOW!!!  You know that moment that you realized—however it happened, whatever triggered it—that something was wrong (or “wrong”) with your child, that your child’s development was atypical, that you needed help to raise your child.  If you fantasize about murdering your child, then you need to realize that there is something wrong with you and get the help you need.  If you are having such fantasies, you have to realize IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR CHILD, you have to realize IT’S ABOUT YOU!!!  There is something wrong with you.

Believe me, anything—yes anything—is better than murdering your child.  If you do that, your child’s life is over.  Done.  There’s no coming back.  There’s no recovery.  There’s no hope.  (Yes, I’m a Christian and I believe in the resurrection after death, and YES I’m still saying that, because you have NO RIGHT to send your child to heaven.  God put your child on this earth for a purpose and YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to thwart that purpose by murdering your child, whatever your reasons may be.)

Consider the possibilities:  If you have to put your child in a horrible school (Alison’s trigger), you can do something.  You can advocate for changing the school, you make money to send the child to a private school, you can learn how to homeschool your child, you can move to another state or another country, you can DO something.  If you kill your child, it’s OVER.  You can’t do anything to help your child.

If you’re not getting the services and support you need, you can do something.  You can advocate for change, you can ask family, friends, neighbors, hell even strangers for help.  You can knock on the door of every agency in your county until you get a lead.  You can apply for grants.  You can build your own support network.  You can DO something.  If you kill your child, it’s OVER.  You can’t do anything to help your child.

If you really can’t handle your child (or feed your child), then give your child up.  Put your child in foster care.  As horrible as foster care can be, it’s better than being DEAD.  Even if the child will end up in an institution, being in an institution is better than being DEAD.  Your child can recover from an institution.  There are people who are working to change the system and help children just like yours.  You can take your child out of foster care when you’re better.  You can DO something.  There’s a course of action, a way to help.  If you kill your child, it’s OVER.  There’s no next step.  You can’t help your child any more, nor can anyone else.

If you are fantasizing about murdering your child, then I see two possibilities:  Either you’re experiencing some kind of mental health issue or you are evil.  Chances are it’s the first one.

Despair is not an excuse for fantasizing about murdering your child.  Despair is certainly not an excuse for doing so on an internationally distributed video that makes it seem like it’s okay to murder autistic children.

Mental illness is not an excuse for fantasizing about murdering your child.  Mental illness is certainly not an excuse for doing so on an internationally distributed video that makes it seem like it’s okay to murder autistic children.

There is no excuse for that kind of behavior.  There’s no justification.  There’s no reasonable explanation.  And, by God, I hope that Alison has apologized to her daughter, because that’s what loving parents do when they’ve hurt their children.  I also hope she finds it in herself to apologize to people with autism and to the world at large.

Now, back to Sharon’s post, I won’t write Alison off.  I won’t write her Autism Science Foundation off.  There is the possibility of redemption.  There is the possibility of forgiveness.  There is still the possibility to do some great good for people with autism.

But I won’t excuse her behavior either.  What she did was wrong.  There is no justification for it.  There are no acceptable excuses.  Her behavior was WRONG!!!  Her words hurt people—real people with real feelings.  She can’t explain it away and expect the people she hurt to just let it go.  I can’t just let it go.  I won’t.  Not until she admits that what she did was wrong and apologizes.  Because that’s what ethical, responsible people do.

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

  • Posted on December 16, 2011 at 8:00 AM

There are many ways to be an advocate. There are many causes we can cling to and many ways we can do it. I tend to be a broad scope kind of advocate. There are too many issues and too many grievances for me to hunker down and focus on one. I’m not really the go-to-gal for anything. Geez, I can’t even stick wholly and purely to autism.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

But there’s also nothing wrong with having a focus, a cause, a very real problem you want to shout about from the rooftops.

Sue is a dear friend with a real problem. Her daughter is the victim of bullying, and has had a hard time coming to grips with all the ramifications of her experiences. Her daughter is also a child with autism, particularly Asperger’s. As a girl, she was misdiagnosed and improperly “treated” for a long time. Sue is a proud mom of her autistic daughter, and all for autism pride and acceptance and respect and all those good things. But she’s focused on bully, because that issue has had such a dramatic and negative impact on her family; and she’s not feeling the love and support her and her daughter need.

There’s nothing wrong with my approach to advocacy. But there’s nothing wrong with hers, either. She supports the other issues involved with autism. But her focus is on bullying. There’s room in this community for both kinds of advocates, and for all the kinds of advocates in between. We should support each other. Sue and I are proof that we can support each other.

Believe me, bullying isn’t a topic you should ignore. Bullying hurts. It hurts the victim. It hurts the witnesses. It hurts the bullies, too. I have no statistics to back me up in this, because, after all, neither statistics nor bullying are my areas of expertise, but I feel 100% confident that your child is going to be bullied, be the one doing the bullying, or witness bullying. Both my two bigger boys, one who is “cool” in all the typical senses of the word and one who is “cool” in the unique way that he is and in the awesome way that he’s been embraced by his peers, have witnessed bullying. Both boys have had bullying touch their lives. My “cool” kid, the one who I’d have least worried about being the subject of bullying, at least at school, has actually been the one to experience it the most. He’s had friends who were bullies, he’s been bullied, and he’s see those he loves being bullied by others—sometimes by his own friends. Willy, who is lucky to be embraced by his peers as a “different kind of cool,” has seen his friends bullied and has been hurt by what he saw. I’m proud to say that both my boys have spoken out against bullying.

I’m proud of my two boys who go out of their way to condemn bullying. But they got that way, in part, because of what I’ve shared with them. A lot of what I’ve shared with them, especially lately, has come through the information, links, and other tidbits that Sue has shared with me. Simply said, Sue is helping me raise better children. I’m grateful for that, and I’m proud to know her and call her friend. It saddens me that, as supportive as I know this community can be, she’s not getting the kind of support and encouragement she needs. She’s doing good work. Please, check her out, support her efforts, and take a few moments out your day to spread the message that bullying is not okay, that it hurts, that the damage can be lasting and painful. Stand up against bullying. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to make bullying your one cause. But, please do something to let those people who’ve been the victims of bullying know that you care. Do something to stop a bully from thinking their behavior is acceptable. Just do something.