Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 3:50 am | Overcast 61º


Louise Palanker: Bullying, Cutting and Autism; Breaking Away from Mom; Fears of a Lisp

Question from Melissa

PLEASE HELP ME! So there’s this kid who’s badly bullied in my class. Like SERIOUSLY badly. I try to help him out but I can only do so much. He’s got really bad autism and so he gets bullied so much.

He started to text me about half an hour ago, talking about depression. I told him how needed he was and that he isn’t worthless and stuff, but then he said he cut himself last night and then he said that he’s going to do it now.

I just don’t know what to do. Please help. I think he really has cut himself. Please, I need help!


Tell the nearest adult right now. This problem is too big for a child to solve.

First, he must receive immediate help. The grown-ups in his life need to know NOW that he has harmed himself. Tell your parents and have them contact his parents.

Second, your entire school really needs to pull together on this. As a society, we MUST NOT allow children who are slightly different to be bullied. It simply is not OK on any level.

It is wonderful that you are his friend and that he feels he can talk to you. But one person alone won’t be able to affect this kid’s day-to-day reality. However, one kid joining with another kid and another and another, CAN and WILL change everything.

Once you have reported the self harm, start with one of your friends and say, “What can we do to help Trevor?” (I named him Trevor because it’s a cool name, but go ahead and fill in his actual name.) Then the two of you can go talk to another kid, and so on.

Be an agent of change. You can do this. Deep in their hearts, people DO want to be on the positive side of things. But sometimes it takes a great leader to pull them there. You CAN be that leader.

Get your group together and make an appointment to see the vice principal. Go down to the office and explain that this boy is being mercilessly bullied, and that your school desperately needs increased awareness and action plans regarding tolerance and acceptance of every uniquely wonderful kid in your school.

Click here to familiarize yourselves with the terms, the concepts and the programs you would love to see implemented at your school. Then share the website with the vice principal.

Remember that bullying and its prevention are EVERYONE’S responsibility.  You have made an excellent first step through your friendship with this boy. Keep walking.

Here is Brendan Metz at [email protected] with more about understanding autism:

(TEDx Talks video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Corey

Hey, Weezy. So I am now in my freshman year of college. I am doing a summer program so I can get a head start in my classes. The school is affordable and close to my house, and my mom wants me to go here. I don’t really want to go here. It wasn’t my dream school.

My dream school is in the same state and, like, two hours away. I wish I could dorm. But my mom would be sad if I left her.

But I am not happy in this school and it’s only been one month. Also, this school is easier, education wise, but the other one is not and the other one has a better name. So I don’t know what to do ... Should I stay here for four years or transfer in two?


You should transfer whenever it is financially feasible for you to do so. It is not your job to keep your mother company.

This is a very tough subject because all parents do miss their kids when they head off to college, but the more  emotionally healthy parents know that they must let their babies fly away in search of their very brightest futures.

The clingier parents are really good at inflicting guilt, which just tortures a sensitive kid. Loving kids never want to see a parent in pain and they especially do not wish to be the one who is inflicting that pain.

Circumstances should not require an 18 or 19 year old to be the grown-up and say to the parent, “Hey, Champ, it’s time for you to go out and make some new friends!” but that is what you will need to do. You can also add, “This is for your own good,” because, down the road, the finer the education you receive and the more independence you acquire, the better equipped you will be to provide excellent care for your mother when she is 90.

Go off to your dream school and call your Mom at noon every Sunday.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Andy

Recently, I’ve noticed something weird with the way I pronounce my S’s. It’s almost like I whistle when saying the letter, and it’s driving me insane.

I’m not sure if this has always been a problem, but I hadn’t noticed it until last week. Could it be possible that I have a lisp? I haven’t had any speech problems in the past and my teeth are at a point where that shouldn’t be affecting the way I speak.

I’m starting to get really self-conscious and I’d like to fix it before school starts.


I have two important points for you:

» Everyone has something about themselves that they would like to change.

» Speech pathologists are geniuses. Go see one.

We can change some things. We can’t change others. Find out which situation applies to you.

When I was in middle school, I had a lisp. I was sent to the speech pathologist during Chorus. I did not want to be there, BUT she showed me how to make an S by putting my tongue at the roof of my mouth, rather than between my teeth. I tried it a few times and went, “Oh, OK. I get it.”

Then I practiced it like crazy every time I said an S word. The following week, I showed her that I had learned how to pronounce the letter S in this way. She was satisfied and I high-tailed it out of there and back to Chorus, where I could now proudly and perfectly sing my S words.

For me, it was not a problem with my teeth or palette. It was just a matter of my learning a different way to make that particular sound.

So, what you need is information. Is your mouth capable of making the S-sound more effectively? Could you learn how to do this with practice? Or is your mouth configured in such a way that this is how you will need to say the letter S?

Go see a specialist. Get your answers and then proceed accordingly.

Of all the issues to have in life, this is one that is entirely manageable.

Here is a glimpse into what a speech therapy session might be like for you:

(Craig Selinger video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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