from Malva: This spring, both Naropa University and C.U.’s Psi Chi Honors Psychology Club invited Benjamin back as a speaker. As always, he inspired the students, giving them both insights and laughs.
Benjamin’s message about appreciating the differences between people is a step towards mitigating teasing and bullying. Here are two parenting books that examine the dynamics that can lead to bullying, as well as giving valuable preventative advice: Queen Bees & Wannabees and Masterminds & Wingmen. Both are written by New York Times best-selling author, Rosalind Wiseman. She has also created the Owning Up Curriculum, a program that teaches students and educators to take responsibility as bystanders, perpetrators, and victims of unethical behavior such as bullying.
For Masterminds & Wingmen, Wiseman interviewed teen boys, including Benjamin. There’s a chapter called “No Man’s Land” which focuses on the interactions between typical boys and those who have social disabilities (as is especially the case with autism and ADHD). Wiseman gives many real-life examples and provides helpful insights and suggestions for teen boys and their parents. Here are the two paragraphs that include Benjamin’s input.
On pages 272-273, Wiseman writes: [Kids with disabilities] have a lot to offer us. They can make us remember and value things that we often gloss over. Like Benjamin Tarasewicz, a high-schooler with autism who told me he wanted to take bell choir because he loves the sound as the bell rings through the church. “It makes me wish I could grow wings like a bird and fly deeper into the music,” he said. When he said that, it stopped me. I could picture exactly what he described and not many seventeen-year-old boys I know would allow themselves to feel that joy—let alone admit it.
Recognizing people’s differences really is the way we see the world in a richer way. And teaching compassion isn’t being soft. It’s in the moment when it’s demanded that it’s often difficult. Your children need visible examples of what it means for every person to have the right to participate. Through the connection they have with a child with social disabilities, they‘ll be more likely to empathize with others and learn to see beyond themselves.