How To Deal With A Bully

Bullying is a touchy subject for many people. I am not talking about the kid on your street corner calling you names. I am instead referring to something much more serious, like cyberbullying or physical bullying (poking, pushing, etc.).

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First Step

The first way to deal with bullies is to tell an adult. This can be a relative, friend, teacher, or even the principal of your school. If these adults don’t do anything to stop the bully from his/her antics, this will certainly not help matters.

Another way to deal with bullies is to stand up for yourself and fight back! Don’t let them push you around and intimidate you. Stand up to them and tell them they’re wrong.

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Now, I know what some of you may be thinking:

What good will that do? The bully is just going to push around someone else! That’s true. But then again, the bully might stop picking on you and start picking on someone who isn’t so outspoken about it! Also, if a bully realizes that you aren’t going to be a push-over, he/she may think twice about picking on you again.

Now, here’s the real secret:

Guys and girls don’t tend to really fight back against bullies. Instead, they talk behind the bully’s back, run away from the situation, or ignore the bully altogether. All of this just makes the bullying worse, especially if the bully sees that s/he can get away with it because nobody will confront her or him.

And don’t worry… If you tell an adult about something like this, they won’t be mad at you for fighting back! They’ll instead try to deal with the bully(s) too.

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One more thing to remember:

If you’re being bullied, it’s important not to blame yourself for what is happening to you. Sometimes bullies are just mean because they have no friends or something like that. It’s not your fault!

So now that you know how to deal with a bully, let’s look at some examples.

Example #1: You are walking to school, and a bully approaches you… What do you do?

Here’s what I would do: First, I’d tell the girl or guy that they’re being mean. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll stand up for myself and start standing up for myself. I’ll yell back and tell her or him that they’re not going to push me around anymore!

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Example #2: A bully is bothering you at school… What do you do?

Here’s what I would do: First, I’d talk to the principal of my school about it. If the principal doesn’t do anything about it, then I’ll tell my teacher. If talking to the teachers won’t make the bullying stop, I’ll find someone who can protect me (they could be another adult, like a police officer).

Example #3: The bully is being mean online… What do you do?

One thing you could do is ignore the bully altogether. If the person doesn’t stop after a while, then I’d block them so they can’t contact you anymore.

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Example #4: A friend of yours is being bullied… What do you do?

If your friend isn’t confronting the bullies, then they’ll probably appreciate you if you do so for them. If your friend does confront the bully, sometimes the results can be bad.

Example #5: A bully is bothering you at school… What do you do?

Here’s what I would do: First, I’d talk to the principal of my school about it. If the principal doesn’t do anything about it, then I’d tell my teacher. If talking to the teachers won’t make the bullying stop, I’ll find someone who can protect me (they could be another adult, like a police officer).

Another thing you could do is find out if there are any other victims. If there are, maybe you can all confront the bully together!

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One more thing…

Sometimes bullies will back down if confronted, and they realize that their bullying is not working. They might even realize that what they’re doing is wrong and apologize to the person(s) they bullied. If this doesn’t happen, or if the bully starts to apologize only to turn around and bully other children, then seek out an adult for help.

Lastly…

If you are being bullied, don’t blame yourself! It’s not your fault… Sometimes bullies pick on people who are too shy or scared to stand up for themselves.

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If you think that someone close to you might be a victim of bullying, it’s good to talk to them about the above information. Create a plan together! You can also ask others if they have been bullied or know anyone who has been bullied and see what methods worked best for them.

For example, maybe having one friend with you when confronting the bully will make him/her back down—or maybe blocking the bully’s phone number/email/etc. It makes him/her back down if he/she is being mean online.

Remember that there are lots of ways of dealing with bullies! Be creative, too – you don’t have to use all of the above methods… Maybe you can come up with something that works just as well or better!

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And if that doesn’t work, there are many other solutions. If one method seems to not be working, try another method, do something different entirely… But remember, you have the RIGHT to stand up for yourself. You have the right to say “no.” You have the right to defend yourself against threats and violence. And you have the right to get help from someone who can protect you if needed.

But remember, even though bullies are wrong, being mean doesn’t feel good either! Even if you’re angry or upset, don’t take your anger out on someone else! If standing up for yourself is hard, then maybe try writing things down or drawing things out to help you feel better.

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

I hope this information helps you deal with bullies!

You can also seek other methods of dealing with bullying by talking to an adult, looking online, asking your friends… Be creative, and don’t be afraid to try new things! But whatever happens… Hopefully, the bullying will stop soon. And hopefully, you’ll be able to find a way to protect yourself!

Remember, don’t blame yourself for the bullying, and remember that it is never your fault. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the bully’s problems. You have every right to defend yourself and stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid – you can do it! You can find a way to bully-proof yourself and protect yourself. And you can also try to make the world a better place by sharing your knowledge with others like I’m doing now 🙂 Might as well have a little fun while spreading kindness 😀

I hope this information helps you deal with bullies! Remember that there are lots of ways to deal with bullies, so whatever method works best for you, go for it! But remember, even if the bullying doesn’t stop, don’t blame yourself… It’s not your fault. And you can build up your strength and courage by helping others with their problems.

But whether or not the bullying stops – thank you for reading. And I hope you’re doing well 🙂

As An Autist, Is My Lack Of Theory Of Mind The Reason I’m Susceptible To Abuse?

Theory Of Mind

Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs different from one’s own (Peyroux, Elodie, et al.).

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Theory of mind is known by many different names in the academic literature, including folk psychology, mentalizing, mental state attribution, theory of mind (TOM), cognitive empathy, social cognition, interpersonal perception, and judgment of behaviour. However, the terms used to describe this phenomenon vary in their specificity. While some authors use “theory of mind” in reference to processes involved in perceiving or inferring another person’s mental state, other authors are more generalist in using the term “theory of mind” for all of the processes involved in social cognition.

According to some accounts, the theory of mind is a cognitive activity that involves imagining how another person might feel or think about their surroundings and themselves. In this view, theory of mind as a cognitive process has been defined as “the ability to discriminate between animate and inanimate objects; rationally classify living things based on biological criteria such as the ability to move oneself purposefully; attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and understand that others have beliefs different than one’s own” (Astington & Jenkins, 1999). Not all theorists agree with these descriptions of the role of belief-desire reasoning in the theory of mind. Some argue that belief-desire reasoning is only one component of folk psychology that provides just one way of predicting and explaining behaviour (Lillard, 2001).

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Theory of mind abilities emerges by around four years of age when children can attribute different mental states, such as thoughts, desires, pretending, knowledge, and false beliefs, to themselves vs others (Wellman & Lagattuta, 2000). The earliest recorded use of “theory of mind” in the published literature dates back to a paper written in 1944 by George Orwell. In his essay entitled ” Politics and the English Language,” Orwell refers to the theory of mind with regard to personality traits. “Personality,” he writes, is “only a word…and it is almost entirely meaningless…so long as we are prevented from examining the activity of the ego.” In this quote, Orwell is referring to a concept very similar to the theory of mind – one’s understanding of his or her own personality traits as well as the ability to infer the presence of these same traits in others.

The development of a mature theory of mind is thought to be reliant upon cognitive processes such as attention and memory. There has been much research devoted to understanding these processes and how they might underlie children’s emerging abilities in the theory of mind. For example, Moore and onlooking adults falsely reported that an experimenter was out of sight when children failed at an object-choice task. Children as young as four years old could imitate deceptive behaviour, suggesting that they understood that their own thoughts, but not their visual perceptions, were private. False-belief understanding has been linked to the development of working memory, which begins developing around age two and continues to develop over the course of childhood (Gathercole & Baddeley, 1990; Gopnik, 2000).

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Theory of mind is crucial for successful social interaction because it allows individuals to effectively interpret others’ behaviour as intentional. This, in turn, underlies much of our everyday communication about others’ motivations and also facilitates our ability to empathize with others. The development of the theory of mind abilities appears related to executive functioning skills, including inhibition ( Diamond & Taylor, 1996), cognitive flexibility (Astington & Baird, 2005), and planning (Luna et al., 2001). For example, the inhibition of one’s own desires and feelings appears necessary to effectively attribute feelings and knowledge to others (Hala et al., 2003; Moore & Frye, 1997).

These executive functions appear to be particularly important when it comes to comprehending deceptive messages. For example, when children were asked how a story character would feel about a second character who had been given her hat by mistake, 3-year-olds typically named the emotion that the girl in the story would feel, without considering that she might also want to keep someone else’s hat. In contrast, 4-year-olds could take into consideration both their own desires as well as another person’s beliefs when making this inference (Laroche, Perruchet, & Tardif, 2003).

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Theory of mind is not fully developed until around 8-years-of-age. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that the development of the theory of mind may continue into adolescence (Lillard, 2001; Mitchell et al., 2005). There are even some suggestions that theory of mind skills might be improved by playing first-person video games. For example, Green and Bavelier (2011) found improved performance on a false belief task following 10 hours of action game training. The authors suggest possible connections between action game playing and improvements in attentional capacities as well as enhanced mental rotation skills, both of which have been linked to successful performance on measuring false belief understanding (see De Lisi & Blader, 2000).

However, understanding that other people have a different perspective does not always mean that one is going to take this different perspective into account when interacting with someone else. For example, a manager might understand his employees’ perspectives and adapt his behaviour accordingly – but choose not to do so because taking the others’ perspective may be unappealing or require too much effort (Mayer, 2008).

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In addition to improving our ability to communicate about others’ thoughts and feelings as well as empathize with them, the theory of mind also enables us to deceive successfully. This can happen either intentionally or unintentionally through miscommunication. Children as young as three years old were able to succeed in order to conceal their own intentions (Lewis, Freeman, Kyriakidou, Maridaki-Kassotaki, & Berridge, 1996). These children were also able to infer what a person who had access to different information would believe about a situation. For example, when shown a trick involving an empty box and covered basket, three-year-old children could correctly infer that someone looking at the scene from another perspective would think that there was still candy in the basket (but there really wasn’t) (Onishi & Baillargeon, 2005).

Once individuals can attribute mental states like thoughts and beliefs to themselves and others, they will inevitably start trying to influence others’ behaviours. This may be done either directly through overt communication or more subtly by controlling information in order to change the other person’s beliefs. Understanding false beliefs have been shown to be an integral part of engaging in these kinds of social interactions (e.g., Astington, Jenkins, & Olson, 2014).

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Sophisticated use of the theory of mind skills may even enable individuals to mask their own desires or intentions when communicating with others and mislead them into thinking that they actually share these views (Baron-Cohen, Tager-Flusberg, & Cohen, 1993; Fletcher et al., 1995; Ganea et al., 2008). For example, individuals might attempt to deceive through omissions – leaving out crucial information – or by providing information that is literally true but intentionally. A politician lying about his military service and verbally agreeing with his voters’ point of view is a good example.

Deception can be costly if other people discover that they have been deceived because it could damage relationships or severely limit social interactions (Lewis et al., 1996; Vrij, Edward, Roberts, & Bull, 2002). Understanding other’s beliefs, as well as how these beliefs might differ from our own, may enable us to avoid deception by others and deceive them more successfully ourselves. Furthermore, understanding other people’s false beliefs enables us to predict their actions better and thus achieve an advantage over them. In addition, this also helps individuals to monitor the honesty of other people in order to detect deceitful behaviour early on (Sip et al., 2012).

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Theory of mind is integral to the development of personal beliefs and values, which enables children to develop their own thoughts on morality and social conventions. This helps them adapt better to different cultural contexts (Hoffman, 2000). However, the theory of mind skills may not be equally distributed among all individuals. For example, people with autism spectrum disorder tend to struggle with inferring other people’s intentions and emotions (Baron-Cohen et al., 1993; Tager-Flusberg & Sullivan, 1995). Some researchers believe that this condition is linked to deficits in understanding others’ false beliefs (Astington & Jenkins, 1999; Baron-Cohen et al., 1993).

There are still many questions surrounding the theory of mind that need to be answered. For example, it is still unknown exactly when humans begin to comprehend other people’s false beliefs. One study has suggested that the ability to understand others’ false beliefs emerges around four years of age (Onishi & Baillargeon, 2005). However, there is also some evidence that this skill develops later in childhood, around seven years of age (He & Southgate, 2006). Another important question concerns the extent of our understanding of other people’s thoughts. Some theorists have suggested that individuals are only able to hold a small number of mental concepts in their working memory at once – roughly three or four (Gernsbacher, 1990; Gernsbacher, Goldsmith, & Robertson, 1992 This could mean that children will have a difficult time understanding other people’s false beliefs if their current belief is incorrect.

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In order to properly investigate the theory of mind, it is important for researchers not only to study the behaviour and thoughts of humans but also those of non-human primates. Primates have been shown to understand both simple and complex ideas about other individuals’ minds (Hare & Tomasello, 2004; Hare et al., 2000). In addition, they are able to anticipate others’ actions by recognizing that these will be independent of their own volition (Melis, Hare, & Tomasello, 2006). For example, chimpanzees may block an attempt by a partner to gain access to a food source even though this comes at a cost for the chimpanzee him- or herself (Hare & Tomasello, 2004). This is known as tactical deception because the chimpanzee anticipates that his partner will attempt to gain access to the food source and takes action in order to prevent this from happening. In addition, some non-human primates have been shown to be capable of attributing false beliefs more flexibly than human children. For instance, Imanishi (2000) found that after a chimpanzee watched a video showing two individuals attempting to move an object at the same time – one successfully and one unsuccessfully – several hours later, the chimpanzee was able to identify which individual had a correct belief about where the object was located rather than simply opting for whichever individual performed a successful action.

Theory of Mind is a complex facet of cognition that enables us to understand others’ mental states – their desires, beliefs, and feelings. Theory of Mind is therefore crucial for anticipating how other people will act in the future and adapting social interactions accordingly. Researchers are still researching different aspects of the theory of mind, including when this skill first emerges during development as well as what triggers it.
Additionally, there are questions concerning the extent to which individuals can understand other people’s belief states. While some non-human primates have shown an ability to flexibly attribute false beliefs, chimpanzees show greater understanding than human children do at certain stages during development.

What About Me?

As an Autist, is my lack of theory of mind a reason why I am susceptible to abuse? Seems to me like it is…

Autism And Abuse

People with autism often face abuse in their lives. Abuse is defined as “the inflicting of physical, mental, or sexual harm on someone else by force” (abuse). Though this definition comes from an English source, it has been reproduced here that all who read this may understand the information being relayed.

The three most common forms of abuse are emotional, physical, and financial. Each form of abuse is discussed in detail below.

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Emotional Abuse – “is defined as the causing of someone to feel mentally tormented, attacked or abused” (emotional). There are many forms that emotional abuse can take. One example would be to insult a person with autism and then refuse to apologize for it, even after being corrected. This is an example of how it can be used as a control tactic.

Another example would be to taunt a person with autism by claiming they are able to do something, such as walk or talk. After the individual with autism tries and fails to accomplish this task, the abuser refuses to acknowledge that they were wrong. This is an example of how it can be used as a punishment tactic.

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Many more examples exist for emotional abuse. The more obvious ones may even be seen as harmless, whereas some forms of emotional abuse may not be so clearly defined. Being aware of all types is important in identifying emotional abuse.

Physical Abuse – “is any intentional use of physical force against another person–that is, striking or pushing someone” (physical). There are some forms physical abuse can take, which begin subtly and then escalate into something worse, such as choking.

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Another form of physical abuse involves restraint. Restraining someone is not necessarily bad, but the circumstances under which the restraints are used can be key to determining whether or not it is an act of abuse—not allowing someone access to food, water, toileting, personal hygiene products, etc.

While restraining someone may seem like a normal response to saving their life, as in the case of preventing them from running into traffic, it could also indicate something more if this was done for no reason at all and/or repeatedly over a short period of time.

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Injuries such as bruises or broken bones from falling down or being pushed/shoved would constitute physical abuse, whereas injuries sustained during a sport would not qualify as physical abuse, given that sports are meant to involve physical contact. Having autism does not mean a person is exempt from being physically abused.

Emotional and/or physical abuse can be the result of having autism. In order to prevent this, it is important for parents/guardians, educators, caregivers, etc., to be aware of what forms these types of abuse take so they may identify them when necessary.

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Financial Abuse – “involves illegally or improperly using a person’s finances or property” (financial). This happens in a number of ways, such as giving money freely to others while not allowing the individual with the disorder any access to their own money without requesting it first, which can often lead to misunderstandings due to communication issues associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Another example of financial abuse is misusing a person’s finances by giving them access to it and then taking it back or spending their money for them without telling them. This form of financial abuse robs the individual with autism of one aspect of independence which can be frustrating for those with ASD as they like to feel as though they are in control over what happens to them.

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Financial abuse is often hard to identify because it may not lead to any physical changes such as bruises, broken bones, etc. The best way to prevent this form of abuse is by having open and honest conversations about finances and ensuring that those with autism retain their independence whenever possible.

Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes and does not discriminate against socioeconomic status, race or religion; anyone can become a victim, and anyone can be an abuser.
More often than not, those with autism are the target for abuse. Having autism does not mean that one is any less human or worthy of respect than someone who does not have ASD.

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These three types of abuse and many others are used strategically against individuals with autism. It is very important for people to understand that it is never acceptable or justifiable in any way to cause physical harm to someone else. This article will hopefully bring light to the misinformation that exists about autistic individuals and how they may face abuse in their lives.

It is important to recognize all types of abuse as well as how it manifests so as to better identify when it is occurring and know how best to address it in order for all parties involved to heal and continue on with their lives in a healthy way.

Autism And Financial Management To Avoid Debt Traps

Money Makes The World Go Around

When it comes to money, autism is a double-edged sword. Good budgeting skills can help avoid taking on debts. However, those with autism may have trouble saving up for emergencies or handling the unexpected costs that need to be paid ASAP.

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If you know somebody with autism and they rely on you financially (e.g. family, friend, etc.), it is essential to keep a close eye on their budget. In particular, you’ll need to be vigilant about debt.

If the person with autism doesn’t have a steady income source or hasn’t started working yet, there are ways to help them manage their finances and avoid debt – which will make life easier for both of you.

Autism can affect anyone in many different ways, so it is essential to know what your loved one wants and needs before suggesting solutions to their problems. This will be key for building trust between the two of you, leading to a good relationship – both financially and emotionally wise.

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Some people may have sensory issues, which means they feel discomfort (e.g. pain, heat, cold, etc.) if their senses are disrupted or overloaded (e.g. loud noise)*. If your loved one has sensory issues and you’re suggesting ways to manage money better – do it in an area that’s quiet with little distractions around them.
This will be especially helpful for ideas about saving money or even ways to start making more.

At the same time, if your loved one has autism – do not take it personally if they don’t take your advice or appear uninterested in your suggestions. They might see you as just another person giving them advice – which can be annoying and frustrating. That’s why it’s crucial to build a good relationship with them before trying to advise that they might not want or need.

Financial Abuse

If your loved one is showing signs of financial abuse, you must show them what steps to take next and how they can get help (e.g. contact the police, financial aid, etc.). Financial abuse is a serious offence, and it can happen to anybody – not just people with special needs. You may think it’s impossible because they don’t have any money – but that isn’t the case. Often, family members or loved ones take advantage of them financially by manipulating them into thinking they’re “helping” them by doing things for them (e.g. paying their bills, buying their groceries, etc.).

If you know somebody with autism and they’re in a difficult financial situation – here are some solutions that can help:

Enable or disable online shopping.

This might be something they love to do, but it becomes an issue when combined with impulse shopping. It’s best to make sure you disable online shopping if they can’t afford what they’re buying (e.g. the groceries) and enable it again when their budget is working for them.

Be aware of any changes in spending habits.

This means being vigilant about your loved one’s daily, weekly or monthly routine – especially if it has changed. This can range from regularly going out to regularly staying indoors or periodically spending more time on the internet (e.g. social media, online shopping, etc.).

An activity timer.

Sometimes autism can make it seem like our loved one is fidgeting around too much, making them difficult to watch over when times are tough. In this case, an activity timer can help parents and carers keep track of how active our loved one is – which will allow them to either give more attention or do other things while they’re busy.

Income sources.

If your loved one has started working already, you must know their income sources (e.g. their salary, etc.) and how they can be paid (e.g. direct deposit, eft, check). This will help you manage the budget more effectively if they know what to expect when money comes in or goes out of your account.

In Conclusion

As a parent or caretaker, you must know your loved one’s wants and needs before trying to help them. This will keep them motivated (e.g. when they’re doing better) and prevent the relationship from falling apart (e.g. when they don’t trust you).