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Teen with Asperger's Turns Bullying Incident into Teachable Moment

Susan Moffatt/Facebook

The Short of It

Illinois teen Gavin Stone, who has Asperger's syndrome, may struggle to form relationships with his peers, but he is far wiser than his bullies, given how he chose to handle a recent cruel incident.

The Lowdown

Gavin's mom, Cortnie Stone, describes her son's condition this way: "He can appear rude, impatient, 'weird,' detached, or uninterested, but this is not intentional. He can also be kind, generous, and forgiving, but even this can appear awkward at times because some of it is learned and not always natural."

Teens who are uneducated about Asperger's attacked Gavin recently. This is Cortnie's account of what happened, according to her Facebook post shared by a friend and accompanying photos of Gavin after the incident:

"On Thursday night, some kids were talking about how 'it's weird' that he is always by himself, attending events alone and watching people, and it was 'creepy' how he wanted to be friends with people he didn't know. On Friday night, another kid that overheard that conversation decided to take matters into his own hands and become judge and jury, and this is the result of that. He didn't ask questions, didn't get to know Gavin, never met him, and didn't give him a chance to leave. He was called to meet someone, surrounded by people he didn't know, choked, punched, and left laying on the pavement so he would 'learn his lesson.'"

The Upshot

Instead of revenge, Gavin is asking his attackers to complete disability-related community service, write a paper about Asperger's, and view a short video statement from him with the families present "so they could see the damage they did and hear the event from his perspective."

What a brave, admirable young man. It is his hope, and that of his family and friends, that anyone who hears this story will think twice before judging someone with a disability like his, that isn't always visible. Those close to Gavin also want to raise awareness about Asperger's and encourage conversations among families about how to treat someone who may be different.

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