· Posted: 6 May 2010 14:02 · Edited by: Balthazar
I disagree with Jock a wee bit, and I think that we may have failed to get to the root of this problem.
From your last post, Tintinophile, it seems clear that you really are being bullied and that it's making you very unhappy. Some people (such as your teacher, maybe) often think of bullying only in terms of someone using physical violence or intimidation, eg: attacking a smaller child in the playground to steal their lunch money. But what your class peers are doing — systematically shunning you and refusing to sit with you — is just as hurtful a form of bullying as violence. And it's more pernicious, since unlike with violent bullying, the perpetrators aren't doing anything they can be easily punished for, and your teacher is more easily able to kid herself that no bullying is taking place.
I think what you're experiencing is quite common (clearly mct16 experienced something similar), especially in schools and cultures where conforming with the "herd" is actively promoted as a good thing, rather than being seen for the unpleasant human trait that it nearly always is. Given how common this form of group bullying is, and given how obvious it is that everyone refusing to sit with you will be making you miserable, I'm disappointed to hear that your teacher can't (or won't) recognise there's a problem.
If we've failed to get anywhere much in this thread, I think it may be because the Tintin angle may be a slight distraction from the root problem. Don't get me wrong; I'm sure you're correct when you say that these people in your class bully you for liking Tintin. But it sounds as if they're really bullying you because they perceive you as being different from what they narrowly think of as "the norm", and that your love of a European comic series is merely one symptom of your difference. If you happened to like anything else outside their narrow field of cultural knowledge rather than Tintin, they'd be ostracising you for that in just the same way.
And conversely, if these were normal, broad-minded friends, rather than narrow-minded bullies, then even if they didn't share your love of Tintin, you'd be able to simply agree to disagree, or even enjoy some light-hearted argument on the subject.
With the bullies in your class, it sounds like they'll pick on you, or ostracise you, for anything. From your brief explanation, neurodiversity sounds perfectly reasonable to me. If I've understood you right, I can see that your belief that autism is a valid way of being and one that should be tolerated, rather than being a problem in itself that one "suffers from" like an illness, would be exactly the sort of thing that would challenge the herd mentality of the class bullies. Basically, you're not only different in their eyes, but you're daring to be openly self-confident about being different, and they can't handle that. But why should you give up that self-belief to appease them? Giving up everything you like and believe in order to fit into a group isn't a very good basis for real friendship.
As Jock says, it wouldn't be a good idea to ram your views and tastes down you classmates' throats, but to be honest, I don't get the impression you've been doing that anyway. You're just being yourself. Jock's advice to take a conversational interest in things your classmates are interested in is obviously sensible, and maybe you've tried it, but if no-one will even sit next to you and give you a chance to make conversation, it's hard to see how you can make a start.
I think it's unlikely that every single one of your class mates really wants to be treating you as badly as they all are. Typically, in these kind of group bullying or group ostracising situations, many of the people are just joining in and going along with it because they don't want to be the one being bullied and are relieved that they're not. It seems unlikely that any of your classmates are as confident of their popularity and their place in the group as they like to appear. In fact, it's probably their lack of confidence that is making them feel the need to bully you, and this may be even more true of the apparent leaders of the class group than of the hangers-on. This can all be subconscious, of course, and many of your classmates may not even realise that they're bullying you or how unhappy their ostracisation of you is making you feel.
Obviously, at this distance and online, I'm simply guessing about all of this. But it strikes me that there may well be people within the class group who'd actually like to be friends with you, but daren't for fear of being bullied or ostracised by the others the way you're being. A good teacher might be able to arrange the seating and class activities to break up the current group dynamic and enable this to happen. But it doesn't sound as if your teacher really understands what's going on. If you can't get her to understand, is there another teacher in the school with whom you get on, or a student counsellor or somesuch person, who'd listen to you and talk to your teacher, or give you on-the ground practical and specific help? Maybe someone could at least help you find friends in other classes in the school, or in out-of-school groups of some kind.
If you are trying to explain your problem to your teacher or anyone else, I'd suggest that you explain it in terms of the core problem of being ostracised so badly, rather than the more symptomatic issue of being picked on for liking Tintin. As you've seen in this thread, describing this real bullying problem in terms of the Tintin angle tends to make people think you're taking about something more trivial than you actually are.
None of this is particularly well-informed advice, but I hope it helps a bit!