Just to be clear...is this bullying?




I have a situation, or at least RT Teen does. It's a real-life, right here and now situation, so I must be careful what I say, but...

He has a new tutor at college, someone with less experience than the others and who seems to have taken an instant misunderstanding towards RT. Notice I don't say dislike: I can't say dislike, as I'm not in the classroom and can only judge on what I've heard.

As far as I know, this tutor is a very, um, easily swayed type who finds it difficult to keep order with students sometimes. This seems to have driven him to try to assert himself by being more domineering. The other students in RT's class appear to be ignoring this but RT is being driven mad by it.

RT is quite placid normally. It's me who gets aeriated by things, people, irritations, everything really. He tends to sail through and has stress from typical aspie triggers but is generally accepting of other people and able to get along with them.

Then came the new tutor.

Apparently, he takes offence at what RT says. A lot. A lot a lot. It sounds like RT is giving the impression that he is permanently angry with his tutor and the tutor then lectures him, in front of the class, about how he is only trying to help.

He explains things in very great detail to RT (he spelled the word STOP one day) and also, maddeningly, repeats back most everything RT says to him. (If this was happening to me this one behaviour would have sent me over the edge on the first day).

To make matters far worse, RT's course has gone from having a variety of tutors through the week to almost all the lessons being given by this one man.

And this week he looooooomed over RT's shoulder as he tried to read something, ostensibly to help RT understand it but in the end making it impossible for him to work - who can work when someone is looming?

RT explained he couldn't deal with his tutor being right behind him like that and he got another lecture, in public.

At this point, RT almost walked out of college. It was the final straw for him. So, is this strange behaviour bullying, misunderstanding, inexperience? Or a combination?

I wonder if the tutor has read RT's file and is trying to treat him as an aspie? Is this overbearing approach meant to be helping RT to cope with work which must be beyond him, because he is on the spectrum? Does his tutor spell words and repeat back to him to make sure he understands, due to his being special? Is it what the tutor thinks you have to do, to explain in detail to an aspie in public, when they have got something wrong?

Or is RT experiencing that strangely debilitating facet of adult life, the personality clash?

Does the tutor in fact treat everyone as if they are five and RT simply hasn't noticed it's not just him? Is everyone else in class also seething or is it personal? And how can I find out without installing hidden cameras or hiring a spy?

I'm going to see the head of department next week to talk about it, armed only with one side of the story. It really is awkward. What I feel like doing is roasting some chestnuts over an open fire (that's my baby you're getting at, mister!) but I need to bear in mind the many times RT has got the wrong end of the stick and misconstrued a situation that should not have made him feel bad but did.

If I go in ready to roast, then I could find out the hard way it's another misunderstanding. But if I behave moderately and it turns out this tutor is a tick on the college's behind, then I will have let RT down.

From my own point of view, there is a simple way to look at this though. Regardless of whether the tutor knows RT is an aspie, no one likes to be told off in public or treated as if they are daft. And no one I have ever met likes people standing right behind them, looking over their shoulder as they work.

At the very least, this is a misunderstanding which has become so bad for my son he is wanting to leave college if it continues. At the most, those chestnuts had better watch it. I already have the fire good and hot and open.

Amanda




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