Pecking order and the Rules of engagement:

A 15 year old aspergers female was brought to me for lashing out at school, being impulsive and aggressive. She was getting lots of detentions. Mom expected me to medicate her to fix her problems.

On inquiring I learned she was being bullied in school and constantly being made fun of. She in return would retaliate over the top and it just kept escalating. This was not a medication issue but normal human behaviors.

I had a long discussion with both of them about how humans are territorial animals and that we have pecking order behaviors. I.e. we compete for status, who is better than who and we compare and contrast and point out what is different about each other. This is normal and no amount of anti bullying federal programming is ever going to change these behaviors. But that being said we have choice on how we approach the pecking order.

If we approach the pecking order form the standpoint of a victim we will always be on the bottom. Directly engaging and fighting back to bullying is the lowest level of pecking order behaviors as displayed by our 15 year old now. Over time one can become very successful in these behaviors as did the New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez. But despite being successful in his career and earning millions of dollars as an adult he still plays the victim and engages via direct retaliation on the lowest level of pecking order behaviors. When confronted poorly he shot someone in the face!

This is in contrast to Sam Berns (life according to Sam) who suffered from Progeria. His disorder turned him as a kid into a wizened looking old man. Instead of being a victim he became an advocate for himself and his disorder. He educated, taught and role modeled to where he became his schools mascot. He raised money for his cause and did ted talks and had a HBO movie made about him. His struggle became an inspiration to others.

The same is seen in the true story “Front of the Class” when afflicted with tourettes Brad Cohen has to advocate for himself eventually gaining his dream, respect, admiration, and teacher of the year award. His struggle became an inspiration to others.

Instead of engaging at the bottom of the pecking order in direct conflict these people went to the top advocating for themselves and role modeling for others.

Our 15 year old is playing a victim. She wants both to fit in , be invisible, and be like everyone else but that can never happen. At the same time she wants recognition, attention and to be special -the conflict of every young teen. In leaning to advocate for herself, maybe have her school play these movies, talk about asperger’s to her school she will be like Sam and Brad, an inspiration.

In medicating her into complacency we would just be enabling her and delaying the inevitable. She would still need to learn to advocate for herself but would less likely do so. She would take this lack of skills into adult hood and eventually suffer for it just as Aaron Hernandez did.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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