How A Teen With Asperger's Taught His Bullies An Important Lesson

The inspiring story of how one teen with Asperger's Syndrome—an autism spectrum disorder—turned a tragic situation into a teaching moment.

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A simultaneously heartbreaking yet heartwarming story went viral this week—and rightfully so. While the first part of the news is upsetting, the end results are much more optimistic. Gavin, a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD, was beaten up just for being different. But the way Gavin reacted to the bullying and rose above it deserves a round of applause.

Asperger's Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that affects a person's ability to socialize. This explains why Gavin sometimes appears distant from his peers. According to a post shared on Facebook, here's how Gavin's mom described what happened:

"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.'"

ShutterstockA friend of Gavin's mother shared photos on Facebook of the injuries, which included a mild concussion, bruised esophagus, fractured nose, and hematoma in his eye. (Luckily, Gavin is doing OK and none of the damage is permanent.) While the fact that he was hurt is incredibly upsetting, what happened next is pretty amazing. Instead of pressing charges or fighting back, Gavin's reaction speaks volumes.

"[He] requested [the bullies'] community service be disability related, that they write a paper on Asperger's, and that they watch a 20 min video statement he taped while their families were present so they could see the damage they did and hear the event from his perspective."

Instead of an actual "punishment," he wanted the kids to truly learn from the experience and learn about Asperger's Syndrome. Hopefully this will lead to the teens being more tolerant and no one else ever going through the pain that Gavin did. After all of that, Gavin's mom's message couldn't be more true to parents and teachers alike:

"If you are reading this, I hope you talk to your teens, tell them about disabilities you can't see, teach them to be tolerant of people that are different, teach them that if they continuously see someone alone that maybe it is not their choice to be alone, remind them to ask questions first and get to know one another."

For more inspiring stories of teens, check out Choices magazine's "Different Like You" series. A few great examples are "Elizabeth Has Albinism" and "Genevieve Is A Person Of Short Stature."