by Eden, Guest Teen Author, USA
Featured High School Student Author
Every day people are bullied, and the effects can be devastating. It can rob someone of their self-esteem, their friends, and their happiness. However, what happens when people start to reach out to these people to accept them into a group and to make them feel like they belong somewhere? This is a story of a boy, whose experience was just that.
I first met Kyle two years ago when he transferred into my middle school halfway through the year. When he first came to school, he tried to make friends. He was nice to everyone, participated in class, and smiled all the time. But no one seemed to share his enthusiasm, because he was different. You see, Kyle is autistic. And so, people were cruel to him; they laughed when he talked in class, excluded him at lunch, and tripped him in the halls. I have always tried to reach out to him, and at first, he and I talked, and he seemed to appreciate my friendship. But it didn’t last long.
The change that I saw in him over the next few months was heartbreaking. He stopped talking to everyone, including me. He was always by himself and he stopped smiling. He had hardened.
Even when I tried to talk to him, he would just shut down. Worst of all, he started being mean to people too. I guess that he figured that if he was mean to people first, they wouldn’t be mean to him. The rest of his year continued this way, and thus, it came to an end.
The next time I saw Kyle was in high school, and he was very much the same if not worse. He looked lonely and sad as he wandered the halls alone. Once again, I tried to talk to him, to no avail. And so it was that the freshman year came to a close, too. But on the last day of school, I saw him looking at the posting of the choir audition results, and I noticed something strange. He was smiling. It looked awkward and foreign on his face, but unmistakably, it was a smile.
I walked up to him and said, “Hi Kyle. Did you audition?”
Much to my surprise, he replied, “Yes,” he answered. “And I got in.”
Seeing him happy and talking again was really a remarkable feeling. I congratulated Kyle and told him I was excited to have a class with him next year.
I walked away from Kyle with a wonderful warm feeling in my heart.
This year, Kyle and I are in choir together. Once again, I have seen a huge change in him, only this time for the better. The choir kids accepted him into the group with open arms, and I no longer see him alone. The best thing is, he’s always smiling now.
Kyle was a person that I thought to be beyond help. But what I didn’t realize was, all he needed, was to belong somewhere.