Long Island middle school allegedly forced a Muslim student to say he pledged to ISIS.

It all started in the East Islip Middle School school cafeteria in January when 12-year-old Pakistani American student Nashwan Uppal’s classmates asked him what he will be blowing up next, the New York Post reported.

After noticing that school supervisors were doing almost nothing to stop the bullying, Uppal, who reportedly has a severe learning disorder and social disabilities, moved to another table in the cafeteria. The classmates followed him and continued on with their anti-Muslim taunts.

The next day Uppal was removed from his gym class by school administrators. East Islip Free Union District Superintendent John Dolan, Principal Mark Bernard and Assistant Principal Jason Stanton brought Uppal and interrogated him for terrorism allegiance.

According to the lawsuit filed by Uppal and his parents, Stanton shouted at Uppal to confess that he was a terrorist. Frightened by the treatment of his school administrators, Uppal wrote a letter confessing his allegiance to ISIS.

But now Uppal and his family are fighting back against the school.

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The guilt trip: It’s all in how they’re raised.

For almost two years, I felt like I had failed as a dog owner because my Bully mix (Pitterstaff/AmBully, at best guess) turned out to be dog aggressive.

“It’s all in how they’re raised!” is a sentence that makes me cringe.  Anyone that owns a DA APBT or Bully breed probably knows what I’m talking about.  While it is a great sentiment on the ability of dogs to overcome horrible situations, it ignores essential facts about canine behavior while simultaneously putting the blame on dog owners.  

One of the first pictures I have of Zuni and I, on a camping trip in early 2012.

Zuni, my craigslist rescue, wasn’t even a year old when I got her.  Her history before being picked up off the streets by a friendly married couple is unknown.  But she was a fantastic dog and I took her absolutely everywhere with me - she even came to my high school once and assisted me with a theater presentation.  We went to the dog park weekly, ran agility, practiced obedience, and played disc anywhere there was enough space for her to run.  When I started working at the kennel, she would go to daycare during my shifts.  Zuni was so good with other dogs that she was used as a neutral dog to test newcomers for the daycare program.

I did everything right with her.  Knowing her breed, I felt an additional sense of responsibility.  I couldn’t raise a dog that would contribute to the “dangerous pitbull” idea.  But I can’t control genetics and breed tendencies.  My breed isn’t dangerous, but ignoring what my breed was meant for is absolutely dangerous.

Around two years of age, the dog aggression began.  We consulted with several trainers and tried so many methods that it makes my head spin thinking about it.  The best answer we could get from anyone was that she was fear aggressive.  I worked with that for nearly a year, but couldn’t ever agree with it.  I know fear aggressive dogs, I work with them frequently.  Zuni’s behavior and body language certainly wasn’t fearful - she would strain at the end of her leash, every muscle standing out, eyes locked onto another dog with an intensity that terrified most people.  It was the same way she looked at squirrels.  I’ve broken up two fights, and both times I knew she’d never quit until she couldn’t get to the other dog.

I didn’t make any progress with Zuni until I accepted the fact that dog aggression was a part of her temperament.  I stopped blaming myself for her behavior and I stopped seeing her dog aggression as the sign of a  “bad dog.”  I stopped trying to make her like every dog she met and instead taught her to ignore other dogs in public and focus on me.  I don’t allow people to bring their dogs near her and we certainly don’t go to the dog park anymore.  I took months introducing her to Maya and making sure that they had the space that they both needed.  She’s able to run agility without losing focus and has done narcotics detection drills off leash in a room with 30 other dogs.

Zuni’s happier now, I’m happier now. Life goes on.

My Journey Through Autism and Bullying

My first words were not “Mama” and “Dada.” They were “Moth” and “Butterfly.” I was 18 months old when I first spoke them.

I began learning to read before I was 2. By age 5, I was reading and comprehending The Medical Encyclopedia.

My parents were delighted to have a brilliant child, and fostered my learning. They let me read whatever I wanted, and our trips were often to museums and dinosaur fossil beds and national parks, instead of Chuck-E-Cheese and McDonald’s.

My Kindergarten teacher hated me because I drew my own pictures and didn’t like the colouring book pictures she wanted me to use instead.

When I was in 1st grade, I was reading at a college level and I didn’t pay attention in class because I already knew everything that was being taught. The teacher didn’t know what to do with me, so she sent me to a 3rd grade classroom during reading time and forgot about me.

I was moved to a private school for gifted students in 2nd grade. My teachers didn’t know how to deal with me when I had meltdowns in the loud and busy classroom, so they sent me out into the hallway and forgot about me.

My 3rd grade teacher didn’t know how to do math, and so she didn’t notice when I stopped being able to do it too.

I was moved back to public school in the 4th grade. The bullying began then. I walked funny, didn’t make eye contact with people, and was too brainy for my own good. I became so stressed out and afraid of school that my hair fell out. My hair still falls out when I’m under too much stress.

By 5th grade, I had learned to make myself vomit so the nurse would send me home when the bullying became unbearable. When they discovered what I was doing, they called a parent-teacher conference to discuss what to do about MY behaviour.

The only time I ever stood up to the bullies, I spat on one of them. I received two days of in-school suspension. I didn’t mind, because it meant that I could sit in the detention room in peace and quiet, and I didn’t have to go outside for recess.

At the end of 5th grade, my best friend’s mother told her that she couldn’t play with me anymore because I was too weird and didn’t like what other little girls liked. She was afraid that her daughter would be bullied, too.

In 6th grade, the nicest thing anyone ever did for me was not turn me in for punishment when my Giga Pet started going off during class (they had been banned in the classroom).

By 8th grade, the bullying had tapered off because I learned how to fit in a little better and my hair had grown back.

During high school, I wasn’t allowed to skip a grade because my grades weren’t straight As. My grades were low because I got 100% on every test without studying, and skipped doing the homework because I would rather spend my time studying college-level medical texts and writing stories.

I wrote a 30,000 word book at age 14-15, but nobody cared because it was fanfiction.

In 10th grade, my math teacher told me that I would never be able to understand what he was teaching and that I should just quit the class. So I did.

My knee problems got worse in 10th grade. When I finally got a doctor to look at them, it turned out that I had congenitally maltracking kneecaps and misshapen meniscus. When I presented my PE teacher with a doctor’s note excusing me from activities that I had been avoiding due to the pain, she flunked me out of the class anyway.

Despite telling adults over and over that I couldn’t do math, they told me that I was just lazy and not trying hard enough. Nobody ever bothered testing me for a learning disability.

In 10th grade, I was nominated for Homecoming court. During the crowning ceremony, I looked up in the rafters every few minutes because I fully expected a bucket of pig’s blood to be dumped on me.

In 11th grade, I was the only student in the school to receive perfect 36es on the English and Reading portions of the ACT test. Nobody noticed, because I only scored 18 in Math.

I was the only student from my high school to ever be accepted into all of the major state and regional choral and orchestral honour groups.  Nobody noticed or cared, except for my orchestra teacher. My record still stands ten years after graduation.

I received a perfect 1 in Solo and Ensemble Contest in 12th grade. Nobody else managed one that year, but the Tuba player had a pizza party thrown for him because he had an almost-perfect 1.

The only reason I graduated high school on time was because I completed correspondence courses at home, making up for the math classes I had failed. None of the math teachers took the time to help me beyond telling me to re-read the book.

When I got into college, I tested into all advanced classes except for math. I maintain a 3.75 GPA despite failing every math class the first time around. My mother in particular continued to maintain that I only failed math because I didn’t want to work hard enough at it.

The biggest failure of my college career was a B in English 122. My papers were technically perfect - the teacher just didn’t like me. I didn’t know until it was too late that I could have disputed the grade.

When I was 25, I finally received proper mental health care. Prior child psychologists had insisted on putting me on Ritalin and Prozac and all sorts of things, none of which helped. I was not ADHD or ADD, I wasn’t just a “gifted” child, but my parents didn’t know any better because they weren’t the “experts.”

At age 25, I finally chose a psychologist of my own. I presented my own research and he did the testing. He confirmed my diagnosis of Autism (high-functioning, of course) with a marked learning disability in math. Any psychologist worth their diploma should have picked up on that by the time I was 5 years old, because I was and am a textbook female Autistic.

I’ve never written this all down before. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I had gotten the help I needed in grade school instead of age 25.

If any of you have a child like me, listen to them. Pay attention to their mannerisms and their eye contact. Watch the way they walk. If their teachers won’t accommodate their learning styles, find ones who will. If necessary, homeschool. Pay attention to your child psychologists, don’t let them slap an ADHD label on your child and make them into Ritalin zombies.