Peers, bullying and finding yourself

Amanda LaMunyon

I am fortunate that I attend a school where bullying is not allowed. That does not mean it does not go on. It means that if found out, there are serious consequences.

I have learned through my parents and some of my teachers that when someone is a bully, they are either trying to feel better about themselves and think they are building themselves up by bullying others, or they are just plain mean. I choose to think that most kids who bully are either jealous of the person being bullied or they think they are looking important to other kids.

I personally have been bullied several times. It was very painful, especially one time when the bully was a girl I had known for years. Somehow she and her friends thought that I was not very smart and that they could fool me into thinking that a really cute boy was writing me love notes and leaving them in my locker. But I wasn’t fooled. For one thing, the writing looked like a girl’s handwriting. It made me angry at first that someone would make fun of me if they could, but then I realized that this girl had difficulties getting along with her other friends. This did not make her behavior right, but it was a little easier to understand.

I have Asperger Syndrome and many abilities and special talents. I love to perform and to paint.* I also love to speak about autism. Because I have confidence in who I am and how blessed I am with special talents and abilities and a supportive and loving family, I will make it through these years of growing up. Some days are hard when I don’t seem to understand what is going on with friends and it takes me a while to sort it all out. Sometimes I think I just never will get it.

I met a couple of girls this year that I really like. For some strange reason, they don’t seem to like each other, so they always put me in the middle. One is kind of a bully, and the other just likes to complain a lot. I have tried to talk to them about getting along, but neither one wants to listen. I want to let them know that there are really special things about both of them. A big lesson I am learning is to get out of the middle of problems like this. I know that there are people in our school trying to help them and they will do a better job than I can.

And then there are boys. They seem like aliens to me. I don’t understand them at all. I guess it just isn’t time to understand them. I will just dwell on Nick Jonas and imagine that he is kind and a really neat guy. Of course, I know he has great music and is really cute. And I just bet that he really is nice because he is confident. And that is what I think it comes down to, confidence.

You don’t have to be like everybody else. You just have to be confident in who you are. I know God made me just the way I am, even if I am a little different. That’s good enough for me.

Amanda LaMunyon, 13, was diagnosed 
with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 8. She began reading when she was 4 and began painting when she was 7 years old. Amanda also loves to sing. In kindergarten she drew all her ABCs instead of cutting out pictures for them as instructed. This would 
be the first sign of Amanda’s artistic ability. She had a difficult time staying in school. Her teachers
said she could repeat all the rules but could not seem to 
apply them. She was a happy little girl, but her spirit began 
to wane because of her seeming inability to fit in. Her art changed everything. Her spirit began to flourish once again.
No longer did her peers see her only as a rowdy little girl who would not sit still, but as an artist.

Because of her desire to encourage others, Amanda has emerged from an inward world to a world of giving and caring. She has become a prolific speaker about the world of autism that she lives in and shares her art and her story with numerous charities to help raise money for children’s health with a particular focus on autism.
Amanda has been featured in A Girl’s Guide to Achieving in the Arts by Kristen Stephens and Frances Karnes and Girls Under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Solutions for Addressing Everyday Challenges by Lori Ernsperger and Danielle Wendel.

Amanda was one of five of Oklahoma’s Most Talented Kids and won Oklahoma State Speech Meet with her poem about autism.
She is also Oklahoma National American Miss Spokesmodel and won their National American Miss National Volunteer Award 2006. She is currently preparing to associate with The Lillie Claire Foundation and the Autism Society of America.

Courtesy of APPC

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