Why Karen Kabaki-Sisto’s 10 “Perks” for bullied autistic kids is bull.

Recently, on the website Autism Daily Newscast, a speech therapist named Karen Kabaki-Sisto dropped an article that was massively insulting to autistic people titled “10 Perks Kids with Autism Get from Bullying.” In it, she basically argues that autistic kids that are bullied can have a POSITIVE experience from it….Umm…what the fuck? As someone who was bullied himself for many years as a kid for autism-related reasons, I have to stop and call bullshit on this lady’s stupidity.

That being said, let’s go over what these “perks” are, and why Kabaki-Sisto is absolutely bloody stupid wrong:

  1. Promoting Autism-Friendly Programs: In Karen’s world, parents, teachers, therapists etc all work together to ensure autistic kids learn and study in a safe environment. In the REAL world, most teachers barely give two fucks about the “special needs” kid, and will often dismiss the bullying as “school spirit” or tell the autistic kid to “buck up,” much like they would a neurotypical kid. They’re certainly not going to pull out an “It gets better” campaign for autistic kids, and if they do, chances are it will be completely superficial and token at best.
  2. Team Work: See Answer #1.
  3. Autism awareness every month: What a great motivation for autism awareness: Kids being bullied. I mean it’s an important thing but Kabaki-Sisto seems to be totally ok with autistic kids being bullied for the cause. “Sorry Mr. Smith, but little Billy here is my meal ticket…I mean primary icon for why Autism awareness should be every month, so I don’t really want to do anything about it.”
  4. Kids Learn Skills: Yeah, they certainly do. Skills like trying to hide from people that want to hurt them, learning not everyone has their back (even the teachers), and constantly questioning whether or not they deserve the abuse, or even if they deserve to be alive. Karen writes that learning to deal with bullies “ Increases her verbal communication with words, nonverbal communication like body language and facial expressions, survival skills, civil liberties, and independence.” This is assuming the parent is going to actually help the kid and not just tell them to buck up and deal with it. Second, even if it does, this usually makes kids MORE fearful and less willing to communicate out of fear.
  5. Builds strength: Being bullied builds character! Just ask anyone who was harassed, bullied, raped, or otherwise emotionally tormented to the point where they had to see a therapist for years, or spend time in a mental hospital. Let me tell you, anyone who says being bullied builds strength either has their head up their ass, or is a bully themselves.
  6. More friendships: Again totally wrong. Autistic people are already isolated and ostracized by others due to their mannerisms. Bullies see this and are quick to take advantage of it. They won’t be able to rely on friends to back them up against the bully because nobody will want to associate with the “class weirdo” or “retard” or whatever name the kid is given.
  7. Overall Well-Being: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…I mean, See Answer #1 and also add that the added negligence will mean the total opposite for the poor kid.
  8. Healthy Relationships: “ Ways to deal with bullying also help your child deal with sibling rivalry, ‘stranger danger’, or any other personal threat.” Not when you’re actually facing down a bully it does. Teaching a child about something and them experiencing it are two different things. And as I’ll infer in #9 below, it can actually make dealing with these things EVEN WORSE for an autistic kid.
  9. Increased Life Skills: Kabaki-Sisto writes “ With your child’s increased communication, survival skills, and independence, [Which #4 shows is bullshit] she will become more aware of the people around her.” Yeah, she will. You know why? Because she will grow to be afraid of everyone around her. She will be constantly afraid the next person walking down the street will take umbrage with her behavior. She will be afraid of doing anything that isn’t “normal,” and will question her own behaviors and thoughts to the point of near nervous breakdown. But yeah, she’ll totes learn to be more aware of others!
  10. Self-Esteem: “ Ironically, and in spite of the bully’s goal to do the opposite, your child will grow self-confidence and self-preservation esteem.” Yeah Karen. As someone who was bullied himself and often has issues with self-esteem, you’re totally correct…bullshit. This is such a wrong view of bullying that it makes me question Kabaki-Sisto’s competence as a therapist. I feel sorry for her patients/clients if this is the approach she takes.

Karen Kabaki Sisto, it seems pretty clear that at best, you tried to put a positive spin on something that’s outright horrible and utterly failed from lack of knowledge, competence, or compassion. At worst, you’re actually advocating for autistic kids to be bullied so that they can gain these “perks.” Or perhaps you just wrote this because clickbait.

No matter the reason, SHAME ON YOU, KAREN KABAKI-SISTO.

Paralegal by day, Anti-woo advocate and technologist by night.

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