If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

Music helped me overcome bullying

CrosterbergCrosterberg Posts: 1Member Listener
edited November 2018 in Guest blogs

My name is Ciaran Roberts-Osterberg and I am 19 years old. I live in Dundee, Scotland and I am Autistic.

I was bullied quite badly as a young Autistic child. There was lots of physical bullying, involving being hit and kicked and it continued for a long time, as due to my school rules I would never hit back. 

My school offered to place me in either the library or music rooms during break and lunch times to allow me to escape the bullies. Having grown up in a house filled with music, I chose the latter. It was then I was inspired to learn an instrument, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had some degree of talent. This provided the focus and determination I needed to work and develop that talent.

I love music, how it can inspire people. How it is a universal language with no barriers, no concepts of race or religion restricting it's evolution. It truly is a way of bringing people closer together, and I could not be happier to call myself a student of music, striving to perfect my craft and continue my journey of learning.

person in glasses with music notes on a sheet behind them and the words please help me achieve my dreams

Throughout my school life I was being bullied for being autistic, having to transfer schools a few times. In high school, I took to music as a way to escape the bullying and stop me from feeling depressed. I started learning Drum Set, Piano and to sing when I was 12, taking a special liking to jazz music. I was told that I wasn’t good enough (because I am autistic) to be accepted to study music at university and that I should “get real” and get a “proper” job. However, I worked hard to overcome these barriers and difficulties and prove to those that said I couldn’t do it, that I could. And I did, by being accepted to the best contemporary institute in the world, Berklee College of Music.

Even now I receive online trolling, and have been surprised and saddened by the reactions of people I considered friends. My story has been featured in local and national press as well as National Evening News and morning radio, which has prompted unkind words: peers sending me messages saying they can’t believe the sob story I am “peddling”, and calling me a show-off.

I believe this comes down to ignorance on their part on what Autism can look like, or maybe the fact that I had to ‘mask’, when away from my home and family, for much of my life.

My mother is disabled due to various medical conditions and surgeries that have left her with mobility issues and chronic pain. I have had to help care for her and my brother, who has a dual diagnosis of ADHD and Autism, which has limited the amount of time I have for myself and can be quite overwhelming.

She is working hard to regain her health, and has always set an example of mind over matter to me. We do not give up, no matter how many times we are knocked down.

I have found that my autism has been a barrier to employment. Even after applying for over 200 jobs, I failed to secure any full-time work. I don’t know if it is because I disclose that I’m autistic. It can be very hard to judge what and how I should say.

That’s why I love music. No one can misunderstand you. That’s why I believe going to Berklee will be the beginning of a whole new life. One where I can express who I am. Then I can help other children that are like me. I can give back and make sure no one has to feel like they don’t belong, and feel like it would be better if they weren’t here. The world is always better WITH YOU IN IT!

My family and I have had to overcome so many barriers, associated with health and other unjust struggles. Music was my only solace and winning a place at Berklee is the proudest achievement of my life.

group of wooden pegs with one peg isolated alone to the right hand side of image

I think Music entertains but also connects, heals, builds and empowers, and I want to be able pass that on to children like myself, in the future with the best tools of my craft.

As well as getting in to Berklee, I have recently been asked to play in the Dundee Jazz festival. Growing up I never thought I could achieve things like this…

That’s what happens when people think it’s okay to call you a freak. You believe them. I’m lucky because I have a strong mum, who would never let that be all I heard about myself. She would tell me to say good things to myself, and would write positive things she was so proud of me for on my bathroom mirror every day.

If you don’t have someone telling you, that you’re okay, telling you that you are not weird, telling you the bullies are wrong... you have to learn to do that for yourself!

Mum said it was the same as being offered a snack I didn’t like. If I ever got offered food I didn’t like, I just said no thank you and chose something else. It is the same with people’s words. I didn’t have to take their words in to me, just the same as I didn’t have to eat anything I didn’t want to. Words have power, so you have to choose which ones you’re going to listen to about yourself. Most importantly of all, don’t bully yourself.

Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself well done, appreciate your strengths. Know that you are amazing. Because you are YOU.

Have you experienced bullying? Share your experiences in the comments below!

 


Replies

  • SJxSJx Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi Ciaran 

    I think your incredibly brave especially to talk out even though you have had online trolls so well done you for not being afraid to speak out to others and share your story. 

    I can relate to this as I was severely bullied too and I had to go into the library at lunchtimes and sit near the librarian just so I was in a safe place. I am not autistic but I do have a lot of traits and struggles. 

    My son is autistic and I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue so life can be very challenging but I will never stop loving my son and his uniqueness makes him more incredible he never fails to amaze me. 

    Keep on with the music and who knows you could be a famous musician one day. 

    Take care 🙂 
  • cocotina15cocotina15 Posts: 4Member Listener
    For anyone that would like to read about Ciaran’s acceptance to Berklee, hewill be featured in The Times Newspaper on Saturday. 

    Scottish teen told he’d never be good enough,wins dream place at top music school in USA 


  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,348Administrator Scope community team
    Thanks so much for sharing @Crosterberg and @cocotina15 :)
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Posts: 4,924Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Good on you for pursuing your dream @Crosterberg! I wish you all the success for the future! :)
    You're a fighter. Look at everything you've overcome. Don't give up now!
  • saxgirlsaxgirl Posts: 21Member Connected
    An excellent and brave story
  • andyb_fae_dundeeandyb_fae_dundee Posts: 4Member Connected
    Love your story Ciaran! I was bullied for having a disability and no one should go through bullying like you did. Those bullies - I wonder what they would think now! Keep going, you are awesome!
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    [In my festive merriment I accidentally linked to this post in our latest Christmas newsletter rather than the post mentioned, which you can find here: Emma's Top 5 Christmas memories!]
  • vysvadervysvader Posts: 120Member Courageous
    edited December 2018
    There's no worry, (without a cognitive bias[es]) one can find a pattern, but I think someone would emphasize your position against the social dogma (from now, you might often just play an NT talent as many did) and how you synergetically help also others those are currently in a similar age and environment, not inefficiently

    It took me a while to realize that cognitive biases surrounded the point of view on ASD, narcism, etc don't make people really jealous rather than they think that it's "unfair" against them when a 'disabled' person is actually considered more (successful or) dis[cap]able than they actually are. Actually, this causes you more problems.

    For the same reason, Mozart underwent an official public trial at an early age, almost persecuted for "lies" (what showed up beneficial because it proved his abilities and this was the case of many, the trials were beneficial). Nowadays, if autistic Einstein would stay between us, with his dress, hairstyle, and Middle Eastern Jewish look of some of the northern Syrian refugees, the Scope's team would straightaway advise him a charity to search for a shelter, the ASD could cause the same problems like you have got, but he was also growing up over many countries of many languages because of his father moving throughout all Europe and none language was his "native", he'd been a speaker of a lot of languages but he didn't master any as native... The most common things how people consider someone intelligent is a very fast speech, charismatic accent, warming voice, verbosity, and visual charisma. His 162 IQ didn't help him. The difference of 1/2 IQ made his point of view always different from the others, so people found themselves always in a dispute. None could understand him and he'd never been agreeable. There's no difference if person "A" is by 60 points more or less intelligent from person "B". For person "B" it's about the difference in the point of view, in both cases. He used to receive furthermore critical comments than you but it didn't go all through the public (in his case).

    Best regards,
    J. Vysvader
    You can feel free to get in touch 
Sign in or join us to comment.