New book seeks to thwart bullying of those with autism

Brian Field

As children with autism enter what can be the cruel social world of junior high years, the subject of bullying in the school shifts front and center as a topic of concern. Often these students can find themselves the targets of teasing and bullying for their seemingly eccentric behaviors or apparent ignorance of the social dynamics around them and reluctance to interact with their peers. While there are many articles and books written on the subject, one new addition is a short book entitled Four Minutes a Day (54 pages) by educator, E.C. Bernard who is nearing her twenty-fifth year as an educator.

Bernard focuses on what she calls “entertainment bullying” – that is, bullying to an audience in order to build a reputation for being perceived as “cool” within a peer group. The bully in such cases typically uses these tactics to solicit a reaction which can impress those in the bully’s social circle, or a social circle in which the bully seeks to be included.

While there are sections (towards the end) that outline how a parent or administrator might move to implement this program, this book is primarily written from the point-of-view of the teacher, and outlines the “whys” for entertainment bullying and a step-by-step process to implement the system to build a social scaffolding for the bullied autistic that thwarts bullying.

Giving an example implementation, Bernard’s program empowers a network of sympathetic peer volunteers who need only devote four minutes of their time a day (thus, the title) to fulfill a piece of the support program between classes in the halls, at key transition points of the day, and other times where the bullied person would otherwise be alone and a target.

For those educators, administrator and parents who seek new plans to reduce entertainment bullying, this book is a helpful addition.

You can purchase a copy of E.C. Bernard’s Four Minutes a Day here.

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