Dear Margo: Afraid of Little Girls

Margo Howard’s advice

Afraid of Little Girls

Dear Margo: Between the ages of 6 and 10, I was severely bullied, but I was given the impression by grownups that such behavior was perfectly normal for children and I shouldn’t be so sensitive. (I now realize they probably did not pay attention to what was going on.) I was threatened with knives, bashed bloody with a broomstick and on at least two occasions suffered injuries that took months to heal. I’ve been told that one of the girls involved ended up in the state hospital for the criminally insane.

Bringing things to the present, I now often feel intense anxiety when in the presence of girls that age. When my cousin’s young daughter wanted to play with me at a family gathering, I found myself feeling as though I was 7 years old again, trembling and barely able to hold back tears, even though she was not misbehaving. When I hear people saying nice things about children, I feel overwhelmed with anger, and while I do not have any specific thoughts of harming kids, I find myself wanting to go off on rants telling everyone the “truth” about the inherently evil and vicious nature of children.

After bringing this up about a month or so ago in an online support group (for Asperger’s, which I have), it was suggested that I may additionally have PTSD and should seek treatment. Apparently, the bullying I experienced was unusually severe even for people who were often bullied in school.

My question is: Would it be worthwhile to seek treatment? I am concerned that it would be difficult to find a therapist familiar with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) adults because I have heard of cases where further emotional damage is done because our motivations and reactions are different from those of “regular” people. Also, since I don’t have regular contact with children, maybe it’s unnecessary to go through therapy and instead I’d simply continue to avoid them.

However, I want to start dating after having been single for a very long time, and the reality is that most men of an appropriate age for me will be divorced or widowed (I’m 37). And … my friends are becoming parents. What do you suggest? — Scared of Little Girls

Dear Scare: Your insight into the problem is very good in that you recognize the origin of the difficulty, which would make any therapy less involved than you may imagine. What you need is support in coping and help with taming your thoughts. With the advice of a professional, I am recommending cognitive behavioral therapy. The fact that you have some form of Asperger’s is not a factor here. Good luck. — Margo, optimistically

Already Feeling Guilty

Dear Margo: I’m allergic to velvet and similar fabrics that are soft and fuzzy to the touch, and having my skin in contact with them is extremely unpleasant for me, resulting in redness, itching and hives. The problem is that I’m pregnant, and that sort of material abounds in baby clothes and soft toys, which no doubt will be given to us. The other day I was discussing this with my mother, and she said, “Well, you’ll just have to wear gloves all the time, because it’s unfair to deprive your child of proper toys and clothes just because you’re a little finicky.” Is she right, even though these things literally make me sick? And if she’s not right, how do I politely let people know velvety items are not welcome? — Expectant Mom

Dear Ex: Let’s start with your mother. “Finicky” means difficult to please. “Allergic” signifies an abnormal reaction of the body. You can tell her for me that there are many clothes and toys that are not made of velvet, and I have never heard of a “velvet-deprived child.” As for getting the word out about you and velvet, you might drop it into casual conversations with your girlfriends, but if there are any shower invitations, I would advise against putting “Please, no velvet” in writing. Should a few things arrive that are soft, fuzzy or velvet, simply return them for credit … wearing gloves, of course. — Margo, curatively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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72 comments so far.

  1. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – no response other than Margo’s – really weird letter and I have no response

    LW2 – So sorry but Margo is wrong – please let all of the people that you think will give baby gifts know of your allergy.  Your child has a 50% chance of having the same allergy.  Please protect her/him from adverse problems as soon as you can.  Most people will understand when you tell them why

    • avatar bobkat says:

      @Kate: “Weird letter”? How is this letter weird? I totally relate to this woman’s experience, also having been bullied severely at the same age, but not physically attacked and bloodied. Of course she was traumatized and has PTSD and should have gotten theray a long time ago. I wish her well.

    • avatar StaceyLynn says:

      Perhaps you found the letter weird because it is outside of your realm of experience and perhaps hard to relate to- but people who have exceptional labels, whether Autism or some other label, often have difficulty advocating for themselves.  This writer obviously needed the advocacy of a trusted adult long ago in her personal history and is suffering the fallout from not having one.  I am appreciative of Margo’s kind response because the writer deserves the same right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as anyone else.  The only other reason I can see for deeming it weird would be that the responses are perhaps schematically a bit different than those of someone not Autistic.  Social responses are affected with Autism and consequently written and verbal expressions will have different accents (more and less intensity than would be seen for a neurotypical person, given the same context).  The writer’s feelings and experiences will not parallel your own and your reaction to that is unfortunately very “typical”. 

    • avatar TinyB says:

      Children who have a single parent with allergies have a 50% chance of developing allergies in general, not a 50% chance of developing an allergy identical to the parent’s. This also doesn’t sound like a true allergy, in which there is an immune response to a specific antigen. Velvet is made from many different types of fabric (cotton, silk, etc), and the letter writer is stating that it is the texture that is irritating to her skin, not a specific type of fabric. This is a misuse of the term “allergy” and her infant is at no particular risk for a reaction to soft fabrics. 

      • avatar atomicsusieq says:

        wow. okay, “itching, redness and HIVES” is the definition of an allergy. the LW may not know exactly which component of velvet and velvet-type fabrics she is allergic to, but since pregnancy can cause allergic reactions (which hives DEFINITELY are!) to be exacerbated, she must not handle these types of fabrics especially while pregnant, due to the risk of a worse reaction than usual. hives are an indication of the possibility of a severe allergic response, including anaphylaxis which can result in death. i am a registered nurse. 

    • avatar A R says:

      If it makes you feel better, I thought BOTH letters were pretty out there. :)

  2. avatar Violet says:

    I completely disagree w/ Margo that knowing the origin of a psychological problem makes it easier to treat. There’s a myth perpetuated in the movies that if you remember some long-forgotten incident, you will suddenly be cured. It’s imply not true.

    Also, what was described in the letter does not ring true. It’s so extreme. Where did this kid go to elementary school? Where we’re her patents in all this? And how is Margo qualified to give an abused person w/ Asperger’s a suggestion for a particular therapy?

    • avatar january 28711 says:

      Maybe you didn’t notice – Margo said “with the advice of a professional.”  She didn’t give that recommendation on her own.

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      It’s nice that you think that the bullying in the letter could not be true, but I don’t think that’s likely.  My mother has described being cornered in a bathroom by a bunch of girls who repeatedly punched her.  My best friend was kicked in the stomach by another girl in front of a teacher.  The teacher told the other girl to “not be mean and help her up.”  One of the dirty secrets about bullying is that teachers often secretly/unconsciously sympathize with the bullies and act accordingly – especially when the bullied child has something “odd” about them.

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re Letter #1:  I too find this a strange letter on a number of levels but Margo is correct that therapy is warranted (although since I have absolutely no training in this matter I’m not going to say that Margo is wrong or right in her belief that knowing the source of the problem makes therapy easier or whether the type of therapy she suggested is correct).

    Re Letter #2:  Margo DID suggest that the LW return for credit or exchange any items which she was allergic to and if the advice is followed, the baby will not be in contact with them if she happens to be allergic as well…so don’t be hard on Margo….she isn’t saying that etiquette requires putting the baby in poison clothes…simply that the problem can be handled without making a huge fuss about it.   Announcing to people who may or may not have any intention of buying your baby a gift exactly what kind of gift to buy smacks of a certain amount of entitlement.    

    • avatar cl1028 says:

      Re: Letter 2
      Normally, I would completely agree that announcing to people what kind of gifts they ought to buy is totally unacceptable, but since the stated purpose of a shower is precisely to “shower” a bride or new mother with gifts, I think it would be acceptable for the host to include a short note at the bottom of the invitation along the lines of: “Due to an allergy, please avoid bringing velvet and plush fabrics.” I think since it is a (probably) medical issue, most guests will be quite understanding. 

      • avatar atomicsusieq says:

        as someone who suffers from many allergies, i agree. any doctor worth anything would advise the same thing. allergic reactions can be dangerous, but the only way people can know not to bring these gifts is to be told. i, for one, would feel AWFUL if i gave someone a gift that could endanger their health. i think many other people feel the same way.

    • avatar bean says:

      Katharine,

      I am just curious about on which levels you found the letter weird. I almost immediately could pinpoint the fact that she had Asperger’s even before she stated it. My partner has a young son with Asperger’s so maybe I’m just familiar with some traits and behaviors. All I am saying is that, yes, while the letter itself seemed a bit “odd”, I’m just curious why you thought it was.

      On another note, in my own individual therapy, my therapist likes to move on from the origin of certain behaviors and just get to the changing of them.  So I disagree with Margo in a sense that it really is not important to necessarily know the root. In my opinion, you just need to know the problem, and know it needs to be fixed or worked on or addressed. You could sit all day and talk about “why” you think you have issues, but never solve anything until you actually talk about what you are going to “do” to work on them.  So even though you don’t have professional training, I think it was pretty insightful of you to mention that knowing or not knowing the source of the problem makes it easier for therapy. Could be my therapist, but for me it does not matter one bit. 

  4. avatar ch says:

    LW#2, Yes, let’s start with your mother. She sounds incredibly unsupportive and I would be very cautious about letting her buy clothes / toys for her grandchild unless you can approve of them beforehand. And be careful if you let her babysit and she decides to go ahead and use something that isn’t healthy for you.

    There is NOTHING to be gained by having a sick mother trying to care for a child from infancy through teen years. So stick to your guns.

    I agree, do NOT let it be known you have a problem with materials. You can ask for say, cotton knit clothes for the baby, if you feel you absolutely must say something.  Garments like that are usually highly recommended by pediatricians. Luckily there are good catalogs available these days that can supply those items (Hanna Andersson comes to mind among others.) You can also use the value of “we are trying to use as many organic – pick whatever descriptor works for you – as possible for our child’s health.” That applies not only to garments, but also toys. People may then percieve you are making a health-lifestyle statement and may shake their heads, but will probably comply if they are inclined.

    As for any items you can’t use, find someone you really trust to handle them for you and return those that are unsuitable. YOUR HEALTH MATTERS. To you and your child.

    I am firmly against letting others know  that you have a particular substance you need to avoid. Friends, co-workers and sadly most often family members, usually deliberately push those items on their “victims” for a variety of reasons (from passive-aggressive behavior to flat out denial and rationalizations in between.)

    I speak from personal experience for myself, my family, and countless other people (documented cases) who have been permanently harmed by “well-intended” relatives, friends and co-workers.

    Good luck.

    And do make sure that you pay close attention to your child. Could be she/he will have the same problem.

    • avatar cl1028 says:

      I tend to disagree with your advice to keep all allergies and ailments a secret. I had fairly severe allergies to numerous foods as a child (everything from lactose and red meat to citrus fruit and wheat), and everyone I knew was extremely accommodating – even many years after I outgrew my allergies, relatives and old acquaintances continued to inquire about which foods were ok to serve.
      My point is that, unless the LW has reason to believe all her friends and relatives are either passive-aggressive, delusional, or flat-out mean-spirited, I wouldn’t hide her allergy on the off-chance one or two loopy people will purposely give her what she specifically did not request. In any case, she can hopefully return the offending items, and I am almost positive most people would be rather accommodating.

  5. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#2: I loathe saying this, because it’s something I assiduously avoided myself, and that I really have come to detest, but you could conceivably register somewhere at gently, discreetly, let it be known. To be absolutely fair to all, you could do it at  place such as (argh, blargh) Babies-R-Us (I don’t really care for big box stores, but…) or Target. At least in my area (Houston) both have a wide and varied selection of regular and organic cotton baby clothing in a full range of sizes and prices. And cotton baby toys, which are wonderful and washable, and sheets, towels, blankets, etc.. This doesn’t mean that everyone will buy from these stores…but if even one thinking person checks the list(s) and notices your very distinct preferences…he or she may very well say to others, “‘Expectant’ wants all natural…”. It couldn’t hurt.
     
    As for your mom, feh. Maybe you should give the baby some sandpaper, a hedgehog, some nettle and a man’o'war (I can send some from Galveston beach) to fondle for all of those tactile needs. The Little Person will be fine without itchy velvet.

  6. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: :#1: This letter is not “weird”. Asperger’s children are often as misunderstood by their peers, and frequently as poorly treated, as Asperger’s adults are by theirs. Society is not kind or compassionate to those whom it does not understand, and who are different and do not conform it its elected norm. Not all parents notice, or care…even when bullying is brought to their attention. For some parents, a “different” child is worse than a burden, it’s a nuisance.
     
    And children can be cruel. William Golding displayed a remarkable degree of insight in The Lord of the Flies. I don’t have any difficulty believing the story of ‘Scared’s’ childhood. Not one bit.
     
    Nor do I find it “weird” that she (?) is afraid of children. It might be PTSD, or it might be OCD, or the two combined. OCD is often co-concurrent with autism spectrum disorders, and a fear of little girls that started as trauma from youth would not be out of the question as an obsession. Nor would be the compulsion to tell the “truth”. I am not diagnosing at all. Just making a suggestion. I have an autistic son, 21, and have listened to dozens of parents, professionals and those on the spectrum talk about this…and this I make this suggestion based on that, and on my own OCD.
     
    There are a lot of therapists who specialize in adults with autism spectrum disorder now. Please remember…if you really don’t like your therapist, you can leave and choose another. But also remember, therapy isn’t easy, and it can hurt, make you angry and leave you wrung out. That would be you, getting over your personal humps. Good therapists don’t tell you what is “wrong” with you, they teach you to view the past, to understand ways to cope with it so that it has no power to harm you, and to move forward and to live in the present and cope with the triggers and challenges that will arise. They guide, they don’t lead.
     
    Why tell a person seeking help that they’re weird? Oy gevalt…people.

    • avatar bobkat says:

      Thank you, Briana! Yes, we Aspies saty ‘weird’ all our lives, but the older I get the more I don’t care what others think of me.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Love your avatar. Being weird (my son refers to me as “Odd”, is a way of life for me…and I don’t give a damn what others think.
         
        Here is a slightly altered quote from an amusing but insubstantial film (the original defined “insane”):
        What if I told you “weird” (sub) was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be “weird” (sub)?”

         
        The point is, for a lot of people, that’s their normal expectation. For me, not so. Not everyone can be the same, or “normal”. I’m not even certain what that means. “Normal”. Have a delightfully unusual day.

      • avatar Lunita says:

        I recognize that one! Buscemi is a good actor.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Outstanding. The highlight of that particular film…though John Malkovich and John Cusask were also highly entertaining. Nick Cage…well, I guess you need some eye candy…
         
        Fargo is a favorite of mine as well.

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      Well said.  Children can be cruel.  Worse, adults who take care of children can be callous, particularly when a bullied child seems “odd” or “weird” to them.

    • avatar Nancy Egan says:

      Well spoken, Briana.  I also have an ASD son, age 19, and I agree with all of your points.  It sounds like the letter writer’s parents were guilty of that most common parental reaction – denial.  They just want the child to be the same as other kids, and they think that by ignoring differences it will happen.  This was even more common years ago, when the letter writer was young.  It is also an easy path for befuddled parents.  I have seen it so often and my heart breaks for the ASD children, who aren’t getting the support they need.  They also get the message that their own parent doesn’t accept or like the real them.  Tragic.  But here’s the good news:  geeky is cool now!

  7. avatar Lila says:

    For the expectant mom, toss the question back:  why the heck are “proper” baby toys required to be fuzzy?  Raggedy Ann dolls are an example of a soft cuddly doll that isn’t fuzzy.  Plastic, rubber, and wood abound in kids’ toys.  Cotton terry cloth is fluffy but hopefully non-reactive for you.  Tell your family, co-workers, and friends that you have a no-fuzzy rule.  It’s not for them to decide what you will have in your home.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I don’t know how people get these perceptions that babies come with “rules” about what they must have, with the exception of these: love, attention, patience, the knowledge that they are people, and won’t stay babies forever, and that each is his or her own person, an individual, and not a mini-me meant to live the dreams and life unfulfilled of its parents.  
       
      There are some very sensible things that the medical community has learned and disseminated to the world about safety…and following those (no heavy padding, quilts etc., in cribs, or piles of stuffed animals, having babies back sleep…all to help prevent SIDS, are excellent examples) is smart. But so many things are completely subjective, based on preference, need and opinions. O, and trial and error. Best of luck.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    I can’t add to Margo’s good advice to both letters. As for #1, I do wish you success in therapy and future happiness.

  9. avatar David Bolton says:

    Oh no—more diseases and disorders that may or may not be grounded in reality depending on whether or not we have personal experience with them ourselves! I hope we don’t develop that most dreaded of maladies—Imaginary Non-Empathetic Toxic Shock Message Board Disease Disorder as a result. 
     
    Only a long-winded reply and some antibiotics can save us now. Unless IN-ETSMBDD is viral—which means we’re screwed. 
     
    LW2:  I agree with Margo for the most part. But personally I don’t see any problem with putting—”BTW, I’m allergic to velvet” on an invite. If you were allergic to wool, for example—I can guarantee you that if word got around to the people who gave you wool gifts, the response would be: “well why didn’t she put that on the invitation?”

  10. avatar normadesmond says:

    <b>ALLERGIC TO VELVET?</b> 

  11. avatar mabel says:

    I’m not sure what people find “weird” about LW#1 – I don’t have a problem believing what happened to her, or that she has a fear of children as a result. I was badly bullied around middle school age and it was worse from the boys. I too am filled with a free-floating anxiety around kids – especially boys – that age, especially if they’re whooping, hollering, or laughing uproariously. I hear the sounds of children playing and instead of thinking “Oh, the wonderful sounds of children having fun” I think “Gee, I wonder what they’re torturing”. My fear isn’t at the same level as hers, but I’ll still go out of my way to avoid walking past a crowd of 13-year-old boys in a public place. Given how common bullying has become, I’m betting this problem is more widespread than most people realize.

    • avatar bobkat says:

      Yup! Same here!

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      ” I think “Gee, I wonder what they’re torturing”.”
       
      I raised one who bullied, and am still raising one who was bullied. I think the same thing. Children lack empathy, an understanding of consequences, and “reck”. These things must be taught. Too many parents don’t bother.
       
      Read William Carlos Williams. He understood all too well.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Y’know, KTLA (Los Angeles) ran a story on 18 April:  “Police: 7-year-old, 8-year-old brutally beat school bus driver.”  In sum, the two were misbehaving, ignored a bus monitor who asked them to stop, the bus driver stopped the bus, and the two boys beat the crap out of her and TWO bus monitors.  I was thinking, “How the heck do two LITTLE boys beat the crap out of THREE adults?”  Um, because the adults did not fight back.  Police came and handcuffed the kids.  The adults were lauded by a police official: “They were truly part of the solution and not part of the problem.  They just stood their ground and took it.”  I question this!  What are we really teaching violent little miscreants like these when we just stand there and let them hit us?  (You can guess why I would eat out of dumpsters before I would ever take a job working with kids).
       
      Okay, so the kids are in trouble now, but basically, they probably think (so far, correctly) that they can attack other people with no real risk to themselves, and one day some sullen teen / crazy person will prove them painfully wrong.  I know that most parents these days have been trained to believe that spanking or slapping a child is never the answer, but… well… among my childhood peers, spanking and slapping were standard instantaneous punishments, generally reserved for on-the-spot corrections of egregious behavior.  These little thugs should have learned years ago that adults are not to be messed with (it would never even have occurred to any of my friends to attack our school bus driver for any reason, and especially not at age 8).  There are definitely proper applications of the good swift backhand. although we are in the Age of Insisting It Isn’t So.
       
      The other half of this equation is: when is an adult allowed to defend themselves against outright assault and beatings from juvenile assailants?  Does the child have to be a certain age?  A certain size or weight?  Bigger than the adult?  Must a weapon be involved (define “weapon”)?  Or are we supposed to let 17-year-olds rob, rape, and murder us so as not to be seen as “retaliating” against a child?  Things are seriously out of whack.  So bullying has become MORE common since spankings were largely replaced with time-outs?  Hmm, I wonder why that is.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        So, May 22nd, a grown man was trying to watch Titanic 3D, a PG-13 film, in a theater, with his girl friend, while a group of ten-year-old boys were busy throwing popcorn at them, running back and forth in the aisle and bumping into them, and talking loudly. Very loudly. The man asked the kids to be quiet, but they failed to comply. There was no adult with the little darlings. The man lost his wig-uh-patience, and climbed over the seat, and hit one of the monst-…I mean charmers…I mean children, in the face, causing the loss of a tooth and a bloody nose.  The man was arrested. The little darlings turned their innocent faces up to the police and said, “We di’nt do nuthin’”. The man could get nine months.
         
        My son called me a “m****rf****r” three times when I told him he was grounded for hurling his backpack at a fellow student. He was 16, 6″, and 250 pounds. The third time, I smacked him in the face. He did NOT learn that from me. The sperm-donor…yes, right now he’s been relegated to that status due to recent developments…later blamed me for all of our son’s subsequent violence.Because of one slap in the face. Of course, if he’d been attending all of the ARD meetings, psychiatrist and therapist appointments, home-trainer sessions, autism meetings, and every other anything he’d been specifically told about but refused to have a thing to do with because he just “wasn’t into that, and our son wasn’t autistic, and had no problems”, he’d have known that he started hitting fellow students in the face when he was about six, and never stopped, didn’t stop biting until he was 7, and horribly bullied the other students in his Special Services classes because they were “retards” (a word he didn’t learn from me) “n****rs” ( same thing) and losers, and he was superior to them. This because his dad would never accept that his son had very real problems, and felt that he was being looked-down on by the wonderful, patient, hard-working people who bent over backwards to help him. 
         
        My son has never, since he went to live with his “father”, been held accountable for any of his actions. Not once. Not even for verbally abusing a police officer who was called because school officials couldn’t control him when he threatened students and teachers. He threatened the officer too…and he got an excellent lawyer who argued “diminished capacity”, and got him off without even a day’s community service. He was smirking about how he was a bad-ass two days later. Nice work, sperm-donor. He’s beaten both of his frail grandparents…no consequences. Now he’s nearly 21…and while Rusty and I still do our damnedest to instill some sense of accountability in him…he has begun to avoid us, because he doesn’t want to hear about it. Neither does SD…he’d might lose his son’s disability check. 
         
        Don’t ever spank your child. Don’t ever respond to a vicious, ugly mouth with a quick slap. Don’t speak harshly, don’t ever acknowledge, or even hint at failure, or a lack of talent or ability, don’t set boundaries, and never give consequences for anything as you might traumatize your mini-me’s for life. Don’t teach empathy, compassion, tolerance, acceptance or an open mind. Teach that difference is wrong. Teach that only your tribe is right. And always, always remember, you’re not a parent…you’re a friend, whenever it’s convenient, otherwise they’re on their own, and always deny that your precious spawn could ever do anything to harm a fly.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Briana, yeah, see… the movie-theater incident:  the adult puncher was wrong, but still – he represents one of those realities that little monsters will run into from time to time, and possibly lose a tooth and have their nose bloodied because Mommy never insisted on good behavior.  Such behavior from the 10-yr-olds would have incensed me but I would never engage (I enjoy NOT being in jail).  I’d be ticked off at wasting my time, but would just go to the theater manager and demand my money back since they were not enforcing the PG-13 standard, ensure that they understand they are losing my business, then go find something else to do, while bitching to my friend about the downfall of society (a sure sign of aging).
         
        I do fear for your elder son.  Autism might get him out of the more minor legal scrapes (“diminished capacity”), but without boundaries, well… I know you must have nightmares about what could happen, and what the consequences could be.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Just thinking about the kid-puncher in the theater: this was no swift parental slap for your own kid’s misbehavior.  It was a rather violent blow against a child.  An obnoxious child, to be sure, but a punch like that shows a problem with restraint: anger that builds until, BLAM.  Ironically, perhaps Mommy did not teach him not to hit, either.  And now the courts have to do it.
         
        Li’l Snaggletooth may yet repeat the cycle in ten years or so… no discipline as a child, no restraint as an adult.

      • avatar Nancy Egan says:

        The adult in the movie theater should have gone to the theater staff and insisted they handle it.  I was in a similar situation with my kids at an amusement park where a small gang of nasty kids were bullying their way through a long line, staring people down, and the line of mostly young folks let them do it.  A big parenting challenge:  my kids would be deeply influenced by my choices, and I don’t believe in permitting bullying.  I politely told the kids to go back to their place in line, whereupon they got belligerent, intimidating and threatening.  I went to the park officials, and the park security officers came to the line.  The bullies had dissipated among the other young folks (they didn’t leave – that would be “losing”), and when I had difficulty identifying them for the police, the other people in the line chimed in and all the bullies were identified.  They were escorted out of the park, yelling epithets and threats at me.  Of course I was safe because they could never follow up and find me, and I think my kids learned that sometimes authority can be helpful. 
        But both of my boys were bullied terribly in school.  Interestingly, my non-autistic son got it worse.  He was different and very gentle, so he became a favorite victim.  My autistic son figured out early that if he stared at the bully, not responding verbally, looking kind of weird, the bully got creeped out and left him alone.  He paid the price of the kids thinking he was mentally retarded, but he did not get bullied as much.  That was the choice he made.  Sad but true.

      • avatar toni says:

        Sick.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Toni…can you tell me precisely what is “sick” about my comment? I didn’t give an opinion about the incident I described…except for indicating that the children involved were obviously not inclined toward any sort of decent behavior. I don’t condone adults punching children in the face…and I agree with Lila, he might well have never been taught proper boundaries by his parents. He also may have problems with anger management and poor impulse control…both of which are his responsibility to learn to manage.
         
        My point was this: it was a PG-13 film, and this was a group of rude, nasty children who ended up the target for an assault. Where were their parents? Who taught them that it was perfectly acceptable to behave in this manner? I don’t even go to the theater anymore. I can’t tolerate having my seat repeatedly kicked, full-blown conversations and critiques being engaged in during the film, and not sotto voce either, the pings, tones and beeps of people texting and tweeting on their phones, and the harsh and brilliant glare from the screens…and those who think snapping and popping gum during a movie is acceptable behavior. And I’m talking about the adults. It is intolerable to pay to see an R-rated movie that will have very quiet, intense scenes, and have terrified children screaming, sobbing and begging to leave (what are their moronic parents thinking? If you can’t get a sitter…don’t go!), or a film with a lot of conversation, and have bored children asking endless questions, which their parents kindly answer instead of saying, “SHHH, after the movie”, or giggling, whining, kicking the seat, playing hand-held video games with the sound ON, or fighting with each other.  I would never assault any of the children….however, I do believe their parents might have benefited from being sterilized at birth…
         
        If you were referring to my story about my son, thank you kindly. My ex, the sperm-donor, is a very sick man. I fully agree. If you think that I am sick, you may kindly return to your usual position, backside up, head completely buried in whatever dung heap you hide it in when you’re playing ostrich. 
         
        “Sick”. Another victim of a limited vocabulary…and even more limited mind.

      • avatar wendykh says:

        As another mom with a son who has autism… you son’s problem is not autism, it’s a-hole-ism. I know plenty of autistic people who are far less functional than your son who have been taught manners and societal expectations. 

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        wendykh: I did not say that my son’s problem was autism. I won’t be arrogant enough to assume you’ve read other comments I’ve mad on the subject, so allow me: I don’t accept mental or neurological disorders as excuses for violent, obnoxious, rude or deviant behavior. My husband (my son’s step-father, who raised him and loved him as his own) and I were absolutely dedicated to teaching I. (my son) boundaries, societal expectations, consequences for his actions, manners, an open mind, tolerance, acceptance and respect. We engaged with the outstanding people at his schools, with his psychiatrist and therapists, his home trainer who came bi-weekly to our home to work on social skills and home skills, and had devoted almost all of our time to him (had we known how much time, we would not have had another child).
         
        We made one critical error. We didn’t move one thousand miles away from his father and his parents. His father had visitation rights, and paid his child support. He was entitled to allow anyone he designated as his surrogate to spend time with I., and those people were his parents. They would not listen to us or the professionals. They allowed him unlimited access to violent media, provided no consistency or boundaries, never disciplined him or gave him consequences for any unacceptable behavior (and why should he behave badly? They gave him anything and everything he wanted). His father flatly refused to come to any appointment or meeting, based on his discomfort with school (I am not kidding) and “shrinks”. I stopped asking his grandparents because all they did was fight with the school officials about I.’s behavior, claiming he was never “ugly” in their presence. I suppose they thought the teachers and Special Services people were lying about his biting, striking, kicking and throwing things at teachers and other students, and calling the students pejorative and racist names. Right.
         
        I suppose further that they began to actually believe that he was a pluperfect s**t when he beat hell out of both of them just because they didn’t take him to his restaurant of choice while on a road trip…after he went to live with him. And tried to do the same to the sperm donor. He went to live with them on the same day he struck his 6years younger brother so hard in the chest that he couldn’t breathe, and then shoved me out of my chair and stood over me swearing and screaming….all because I asked him if he wanted a ride to Youth Group. The real reason? He wanted to go live with those who spoiled him rotten and enabled him…not at our house, at which he had to do home work, and straighten his room, and not hit people, or watch TV all night, or call me a “m****r-f****r” freely, or talk about killing all of the Jews and n****rs…all of which he felt perfectly justified in doing. He got his wish, and they got theirs.
         
        Like I said, since he’s lived with them, he’s assaulted kids in wheelchairs, students who were MR, threatened teachers, police officers, and a truck driver who stopped to see if he was all right after he almost hit I. because he rode his bike, without bothering to look, right out in front of him. He doesn’t work. He doesn’t do anything. Sperm-donor wants him to learn to drive and is allowing him to take martial arts lessons. He sees no problem with either of these things. Do you? I do. O my yes, I certainly do.
         
        I bloody damn well know it’s not his autism. I also know he’s been conveniently misdiagnosed as bi-polar, and why…it’s a guarantee of a disability check. If there’s any sort of diagnosable problem, it’s something on the order of malignant narcissism, which has been strongly suggested by three different therapists, all very qualified and experienced. That’s not treatable or curable.
         
        My son is a potential menace, and a wretched human being. I’m the fool who married his father and had him. I know. I worry endlessly that he’ll hurt someone, or worse. His father refuses to be accountable or listen to reason. I., according to the sperm-donor, is the way he is because Rusty and I gave him a miserable, abusive childhood. By reading to him endlessly. Singing to him. Teaching him to talk, and about colors, and drawing. By socializing him, and comforting him so that he learned early to accept hugs, and cuddling and affection. Neglecting our other son and our personal lives to help him meet his full potential.
         
        Our younger son, Morgan, is the antithesis of his brother. He was raised the same way. He is kind, compassionate, fiercely loyal, loving, generous, responsible and astoundingly accountable, especially for a fourteen-going on fifteen year old suburban boy. He asked to volunteer with an animal adoption charity, he is well-loved by his fellow students, he is funny and kind…and all of this in spite of the fact that his first ten years were hell.
         
        I love I., but if, and when, he does the (sadly) expected, I’m not going to be begging for understanding and forgiveness because he’s “sick”. You badly misjudged me.

  12. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1:  I too find this letter strange but it is more of her reaction then the type of bullying she’s describing.  Maybe b/c she has Aspergers and her thinking is different (?) but to even suggest that she doesn’t need therapy that she could just avoid children seems so bizarre to me.  She herself admitted that even speaking of children makes her angry and upset, that should be grounds enough to get into therapy.  Plus, there has to be therapist out there who are qualified to work with those that have a spectrum of autism.  It might take some work to find them, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that no psychologist out there knows how to actually deal with someone who has autism.
    LW#2:  The fact that your mother described your allergy as “finicky” should be the first clue to ignore anything that she says.  I have to disagree with Margo on this one pertaining to not telling people.  First, what are you supposed to do at the shower if you open up a present that has velvet?  Break out or are you expected to wear gloves at the shower too?  No one wants to give a gift to someone that makes them sick, as a guest I would appreciate the heads up.  I’d feel pretty bad and embarrassed if my gift caused a pregnant woman to break out in hives. 

  13. avatar MameSnidely says:

    I feel compelled to write, as I am a semastress, and have information that might help LW#2. Most of the soft, cuddly fabrics that are popular for baby toys right now are made from polyester fibers (also called microfiber, and some of the brand names which usually sound sort of 1970′s techie) She is very likely NOT allergic to the texture, but to polyester itself — I am myself though my reaction varies from hers. Velvet and Minky made from polyester also can leave very small scratches in the skin, which would cause her reaction to be worse, therefore making it seem that the texture of the fiber is the problem. I highly recommend throwing out all polyester in this case.  She may find that once she banishes the offending material from her home, that her reaction is much less severe when it occurs. 

    More to her situation though, I believe what she should do is simply state that she is in the process of figuring out a severe allergy, and that until she knows what is bothering her so much she’d prefer natural-fiber baby toys and garments fore safety sake — people that care will comply as best they know how. I think she should be easier on her mother, however — it sounds like she thought her daughter meant to give the child NO toys, and reacted to that, not the ‘limited’ toys that is reality.  

    • avatar MameSnidely says:

      Also — regarding LW#1 — my experience is that children that are allowed to get away with terrible behavior do so until they commit a crime or hurt someone in a lasting way. Also, as she mentions that one of the children that tortured her when she was little is now locked up, it sounds like she may have been the victim of a budding sociopath — while it doesn’t happen often, it does certainly happen, and we all know that these people can commit, even as young children, terrible acts of violence against all manner of living things. It may be a strange letter, but stranger things have happened.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Keep in mind that just because something is “natural,” it won’t automatically make it comfortable. I can wear an acrylic sweater with no problem. I can’t wear most wool because my skin starts to itch immediately. 

      • avatar cl1028 says:

        I think the “natural” suggestion was to avoid polyester, to which the LW may be allergic, not to suggest that all natural materials are necessarily safe and comfortable.

  14. avatar oldbill says:

    LW2
    Velvet is a kind of weave with a thick pile. Allergies are directed against a particular chemical not against a particular weave. Velvet can be made from silk or cotton or any one of several synthetic fibers including polyester. You are not allergic to “velvet” but you may be allergic to the fiber from which it is made.

  15. avatar staili says:

    Agree with the above posters — LW#2 is not allergic to velvet — it’s the material (or potentially the way the material is prepared) that is the problem.  She is mislabeling her reaction.

    The LW’s blanket “I’m allergic to soft fabrics” is too broad, and may be part of the reason why the mother isn’t that sympathetic.  

     

  16. avatar mac13 says:

    When I was about 8 I suffered from bullying for several years. Beaten bloody. Had broken bones twice. I was always told kids will be kids and that I needed to toughen up. You gotta love dear old dad. The leader of the gang finally moved away and it ended. I have never had therapy, never felt like I needed it. I just vowed to never bully anyone for any reason and teach my children it just isn’t ok. Different people heal and react in different ways. As for a fear of boys that age, I have none.  One of the lucky ones I guess.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I was bullied from kindergarten through sophomore year of high school, so I gear you and anyone else who was a victim. Mom’s aphorism was, “I can’t do anything to help you”. So I stopped telling her at about the age of ten. Dad didn’t know…mom never told him because that might have diverted his attention from her for a second or two.
       
      However, dad did explain the Rules to me. Always let the other guy throw the first punch, then take him down. Always do the unexpected. Never let “them” see that you’re afraid. “Love” thine enemy, it will baffle the s**t out of him. Never go down without a fight. I was a girl…but I took the Rules to heart. I told the leader of a gang of kids in junior high that if he pushed me down the stairs or spat on me one more time I was going to throw him over the third floor railing. I told him he’d never see me coming. I meant it…I do believe he saw it. My last months in middle school were absolutely peaceful. After my high school’s most feared bad girl hit me twice in the head with softball pitches, I chose the heaviest bat we had, and told her I was going to kill her. I meant that as well. The PE teacher knew, too. She made the white faced girl apologize, and my senior year was smooth sailing.
       
      I am not a violent person. In school I was a mostly silent, artistic, A+ student nerd, fat-and-ugly kid. I was kidney punched, pushed down stairs, spat on, kicked viciously, cursed, put-dpwn, called “Crater Face” because of severe chicken pox scarring, and brutally teased for my cheap, ill-fitting clothing (my parents were upper middle class, my father’s suits were custom tailored, and my mother shopped at Saks, Neimans, and Marshall Field. My clothing literally came from the five and dime…until KMart opened). During the 60′s and 70′s, in the Chicago suburbs, bullied children were not punished for standing up to their tormenters. What a shame that the system tortures them now, as well as their poorly parented, entitled peers.

  17. avatar Briana Baran says:

    That would be “hear”, not “gear”. I am nervously baking cupcakes for a school function. From scratch. Martha Stewart, I am not.

  18. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 - This LW actually has some pretty good insight to this issue and his/herself. I think therapy with someone well versed in issues around of Autism would be great and I would imagine as Margo said not all that involved. This person is well on their way to a better understanding of how to deal wtih this.

    Now, rhetorical question time: How does bullying to this degree even happen? I believe the LW but OMG, WTF????

    LW2 – Allergic to velvet? Okay. That’s like saying I’m allergic to blue. Velvet is a type of weave not a thing one can be allergic to.  I think I’ll be allergic to terry cloth and dry off with one of my cats.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I am allergic to dusty rose and mauve. It’s emmis. And off white no matter what you call it. I get hives the size of champagne glasses, and see everything twice.

  19. avatar Briana Baran says:

    RE: L#2: Depending on LW2′s age, she may never have come into contact with any kind of velvet, velveteen, velour or similar fabric that didn’t contain polyester or a similar fiber that can cause a severe reaction. Nylon is intolerable for me, and for many people (hint: if your legs and other bits are itching and burning, or the soles of your feet, it may be your pantyhose, stockings or carpet).
     
    Many younger people have never experienced silk, or cotton and silk velvet, velour and other fabrics. Even terry cloth towels can be partly polyester. Also, a lot of “fuzzy” sweaters and blankets are made of wool…and thousands of people can’t stand angora, mohair, or even cashmere, as goats and sheep both leave things like lanolin (I can’t tolerate that, either, nor can more people than most realize) in their fur (that’s what wool and its relatives are).  Yet these fabrics have made a huge comeback lately. I’m itching just thinking about them. Feh.
     
    I think, if LW2 is reading this, she gets it now. Velvet is a variety of fabric that can be made out of many different type of fibers. Avoid man made fibers. Cause the death of no poly worms. They’re an endangered species, I’m sure. Go with cotton. Organic cotton is very nice, but pricey. Wash baby clothes and toys in detergent you know you’re not sensitive to before giving them to your new little space alien, which removes any residual packing or processing chemicals.
     
    Oy gevalt.

  20. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I said I found LW#1 strange on a number of levels…I do not doubt that bullying exists and that she suffered from it but it seems strange to me that her parents did not notice injuries that took months to heal…but I haven’t experienced bad parenting.  My mother took on one Catholic priest in our parish when we told her he was hitting children on the hands for misbehaving or getting bad grades….she also took on another priest who would verbally abuse children in religion class and beat one boy for giving an incorrect answer (I did not see the beating but I heard it through closed doors).  This was in the late 50′s and early 60′s.  The ruler hitting stopped in the first case and in the second case  the psycho priest was sent to Coventry.    The thing I found most strange was her belief that a professional could not provide good therapy for her because she has Aspergers.  I am not well-versed in autism but I cannot believe that there are not a good number of professionals who specialize in therapy for autistic individuals.  So…I’m glad that Margo encouraged her to seek therapy. 

    • avatar Lila says:

      Katharine, your mom may have successfully taken on corporal-punishing priests, but my brother and I spent several elementary grades in a Catholic school in the early 1970s and the nuns were not shy about smacking hands with rulers, though it was always for misbehavior, not for wrong answers.  I (fortunately) never got smacked, but my brother and others did.  And the nuns were not apologetic.

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        Sadly, corporal punishment was pretty common (and may still be for all I know) in Catholic schools.  My highschool boyfriend used to get punched in highschool by a Christian Brother teachehr on a regular basis…but considered it something he had to *take like a man*.  I don’t think he was a terrible troublemaker but since I was in the all girls school and not his, I dont’ know if he did anything to *deserve* it or not….  My mom was not raised Catholic, she was a convert.  She had absolutely NO FEAR of nuns or priests acting badly and defended us vocally and got all the other families in the parish she knew involved and stirred up against it too. The monsignor didn’t know what hit him when she went on the warpath.  If he had not responded she would have gone to the bishop and then to the cardinal and maybe the pope!    Ironically, I was never hit  in Catholic school but I did get a swat in kindergarten in public schools.  In fact, none of my mom’s kids were ever hit in Catholic school.  She was defending my classmates!  None of the other mothers had the nerve to challenge the priests and nuns.   I think the first priest, who was Irish, was following *old country ways* and he changed.  The second priest was really psycho….the rumor was he was sent off for a *rest* and later left the priesthood. 

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        I never went to Catholic school, but I did have to attend CCD classes, and most of the nuns were free with the metal ruler. I got popped regularly for “not being attentive”, but then, kids got knuckle pops for coughing. Or breathing. Or existing.
         
        Peculiar how a denomination that proscribes against birth control and abortion seems to detest children…

      • avatar Lila says:

        Ain’t THAT the truth!  I wonder why some women become nuns.  Maybe they didn’t want families, then find themselves saddled with “child rearing” duties for 30 kids at a time… 

  21. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: By all means, seek treatment and reveal your own insights to jumpstart things. Best to you.
    LW2: A little finicky, huh? Your mom sounds like a cuddlebone for sure. Do what you need to do to avoid the rash and give mom a ration if she interferes.

  22. avatar impska says:

    Lw2: If you plan on putting the website for your registry on the invitation to the baby shower, then load it up with clothing and toys that are “all natural,” “Organic” – people will get the idea. They may not know why you’ve chosen to go that route, but they’ll understand that you have. Make sure to put lots of options on your registry so that they aren’t tempted to go off registry.
     
    If you don’t plan on putting the website on your invitation, but are going the “proper” route and making people ask – then have your organizer explain to people that you have an allergy to non-natural fabrics and to keep it in mind if they choose to buy clothes.
     
    In either case, donate anything you get that is unsuitable and send a thank you card.

  23. avatar Daniele says:

    LW#1 described what sounds like a PTSD flashback when she encountered a 7 year old girl at a family function. The Veteran’s Administration has come up with a number of therapies that relieve some of the symptoms of PTSD, such as CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy), among others. PTSD is difficult to treat and has reams of new research published on it every month. Avoidance is not an ideal method for dealing with PTSD unless triggers aren’t readily accessible. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can successfully avoid prepubescent girls for the rest of her life. Flashbacks are only one symptom of PTSD. There are a range of emotions and behaviors associated with it that alter the way people live their lives. Avoiding things that trigger flashbacks will not stop other destructive PTSD issues. Hyperarousal will occur regardless of the presence of young girls. Constant states of awareness, always on guard, easily startled, and so on. Avoidance, in and of itself, is also a problem. Not just avoidance of the triggering issue, but of things like emotions. People with PTSD tend to avoid their own emotions, and when they experience them they are disproportionate and inappropriate to the situation. Instead of feeling simply frustration, they will experience rage. So, yes, therapy is necessary if PTSD is present. A diagnosis from a qualified professional is a good first step. Even if it’s not PTSD, therapy will help deal with the feelings that are problematic.
     

  24. avatar Mamabear says:

    Lw #1 – I am sorry to hear of your difficulties.  The bullying you experienced was extreme.  It is very unfortunate that your parents did not help you out.  Many children on Autism Spectrum become targets for bullying because they are “different”.  Additionally, they are often unable to advocate for themselves (effectively asking for help and explaining what the problem is), which is perceived as a weakness to be exploited.  Often this results in the bullying situations lasting for quite some time and escalating in physical and/or emotional damage.
    There are many therapists who specialize in treating “Aspies”.  “Regular” therapists may not understand your “differentness” – they may even prescribe treatments that are either unnecessary or ineffective for you.  Remember, your brain isn’t “bad” it is just “different”.  It is very important to find someone who understands your social responses – which often are different from the average “neuro-typical” adult.  I would recommend calling your primary care physician and/or your local hospital for support groups and therapist references.  If they cannot help you, try calling one of the large, metropolitan or teaching hospitals in your area. 
    If you are in New England, contact Aspergers Association of New England (AANE.org).  They are a phenomenal group and their focus is on the unique needs of the Aspergers community.
    You could also contact Autism Speaks (autismspeaks.org).  They are a national organization.  They may have recommendations for support in your area too.
    Best wishes in your recovery.
     

  25. avatar Pinky35 says:

    Lets start backwards, LW#2, If you think you have an allergy, go to a doctor and get tested. Then, you can see what exactly it is about “velvety fabrics” that bothers you. Could it just be dust mites that embed themselves in plush toys? Worth a look into. Then, once you figure out the trigger, you can stipulate in the invitations what you wish them to not give as a gift because of your allergy. Also, I think seeing a doctor about your allergy will lead credibility to your allergy claim and you can tell your mother, “see, it’s not just all in my head.”

    LW#1, I know all too well how cruel kids can be. And I DO believe your story. I was bullied a lot, although not to your extreme. I think the important thing is what you feel you should do about it. If you think therapy will help you, then by all means go see a therapist. In my experience, not all therapists will be as sympathetic as you need them to be. Mostly, their first response is to get over it because it’s in the past. But, hopefully you will find one who specializes in PTSD and who can help you overcome your fears.