This is Gavin Joseph who has Asperger’ Syndrome and was set upon by a stranger and beaten up because people thought he was “creepy” due to his condition.
Gavin, from New Baden, Illinois, was tricked into coming over to a crowd of people last month before being choked and punched in front of them and left bruised, concussed and with a fractured nose after the unprovoked attack.
The attacker said the senior school graduate was being “taught a lesson” for his behaviour, which often includes him hanging out on his own because of his Asperger’s.
However, instead of responding by wanting his attacker and those who encouraged the assault to feel the full force of the law, Gavin decided to be the bigger man and teach the bullies his own lesson.
Instead, Gavin requested that the thugs (along with their families) watch a 20 minute video message he recorded so that they could see the damage they had done and hear things from his perspective. He also asked that they write an essay on Asperger’s syndrome.
Gavin’s mum was so proud of her son’s reaction to the ordeal she decided to post his story on Facebook, and it’s already been shared by nearly 100,000 people.
Mrs Joseph wrote:
Some kids were talking about how it’s weird that he is always by himself, attending events alone and watching people, and that it was ‘creepy’ how he wanted to be friends with people he didn’t know. 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’.
Gavin was diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s at the age of 3 and his mother added that because Asperger’s is a social disability, it is still widely misunderstood.
You can’t ‘see’ Asperger’s since it’s not a visible disability, it’s a social/emotional one that makes relationships difficult to attain. It doesn’t prohibit his movement, or ability to walk, but it makes everyday interactions with people very difficult. He can appear rude, impatient, “weird”, detached, or uninterested, but this is not intentional.
He can also be kind, generous, and forgiving, but even this can appear awkward at times because some of it is learned and not always natural. Keeping longtime friends is tough because of his tendency to isolate yourself. Gavin has spent years learning what society thinks is appropriate and not appropriate, and so he doesn’t offend anyone or stick out in social situations.
She urged any parents reading her post to tell their teens about disabilities that can’t been seen and to be “tolerant of people who are different and get to know them”.
Gavin has a mild concussion, a bruised esophagus, the tip of his nose fractured, and haematoma in his eye, but nothing permanent. He did not press charges, but requested their 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.
I am so proud of him, and I hope a lesson will come of this to all that hear about it.