Kids With Asperger's Syndrome: 'Bullied on a Daily Basis'
High-functioning form of autism causes social awkwardness and angst.
April 4, 2007 — -- Growing up, Daniel Corcoran was the odd kid at school. He wasn't slow, but his coordination was off, and he tended to obsess on certain subjects, like light bulbs and air conditioners. At the time, his preoccupations with random objects seemed quirky, but harmless.
But when Corcoran entered middle school, his quirks were not accepted by many of his classmates and his life became a social nightmare filled with name calling and other cruelties.
Corcoran is now out of middle school and a sophomore at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. His uncomfortable encounters persist, especially after taking the dangerous step of "coming out," as he puts hit, with his condition. Corcoran has Asperger's syndrome, and his decision to announce the disorder yielded mixed results from his peers.
Asperger's syndrome is a form of high-functioning autism, characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior during childhood. "It means my brain is different," Corcoran said.
Twelve-year-old Noah Orent also has Asperger's, and like Corcoran, he's mild-mannered and began to get bullied at an early age.
"I was just merely called 'Game Boy freak' or stuff. There was one kid that was the worst. He just called me names and he was not nice," Noah said. "He was mean -- mean to the bone. I was so mad that I couldn't let out my anger. I was just like hiding it. I just didn't feel like being at that school anymore."
Noah is not alone, and some school systems are working on a solution to the social angst that affects many with the disorder. Jed Baker, a psychologist who works with many kids with Asperger's, found out the situation for kids with the disorder was very severe.
"In some areas, there have been reports of 90 percent of kids with Asperger's are getting bullied on a daily basis," he said.
Baker consults for the Milburn New Jersey Middle School, which has stepped up its focus on children with Asperger's and other conditions. His primary mission is to build a healthy social network of these kids. At Milburn, he partners children with Asperger's with volunteers from the student body.
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