My Nickname Was Retard: How I Survived Bullying

With no friends and no future in sight, Ben cried himself to sleep at night, even contemplating suicide. But then he had a revelation that changed everything.

“When everyone else has given up on you, it’s hard not to give up on yourself.” Ben is a fighter. And there are others out there. People who seem so ordinary - yet contain a hidden greatness. Watch the rest of Jerusalem U’s Hear Me Roar series, and meet young Jewish heroes who have overcome staggering obstacles to reveal their inner strength. Support Bullying Prevention Month, World Day of Bullying Prevention, National Stop Bullying Day, and Anti-Bullying Day - let’s put an end to bullying!

Comments (27)

(26) Tiferet, November 24, 2019 8:36 PM

Touching story.

Very touching story. Good luck in life.

(25) joshua, May 15, 2018 2:30 PM

great job!

Ben thank you for sharing your story. You remind me of one of my young sons - both are on the spectrum. The younger (8) has a competitive spirit and gets straight A's without trying. but my older (10) is bright and sensitive and struggles in school academically and socially. He's as soft and sweet as winnie the poo and he seems to have no emotional defense against bullies (who are merciless). We surround him with love and encouragement - but ultimately as you discovered the solution comes from within. I hope he'll hear your message and take it to heart. thanks once again for putting this out there.

(24) Anonymous, October 22, 2017 12:42 PM

amazing- so inspiring

wow! Your story is so amazing I am blown away. I am just wondering if the autism diagnosis was wrong. You certainly don't seem to have anything wrong with you!!! Yay for your having made aliyah. Welcome to Eretz Yisroel. May Hashem watch over you and keep you safe.

(23) Chana Kramer, October 19, 2017 11:19 PM

Great inspirational story

I loved hearing your story and how you were motivated to self teach yourself and continue to prove the nay sayers and experts wrong! Keep on doing what you're doing!

(22) Rachel, October 18, 2017 1:57 AM

This man is one of the most ambitious, eloquent and brilliant person i have ever met. He truly inspired me to not wait for others but go take matters in my own hands when it comes to education. He proved that education starts from within the person. Any person can learn and grow so as long as they have a desire for it. He needs to speak to more school aged children about bullying. He would be a fantastic motivational speaker. My heart is full of happiness for who he chose to become. What a person becomes is so much in there own hands. Amazing story!! Thank you aish for another amazing article!!

(21) Anonymous, October 17, 2017 10:16 PM

Big hug!

Dearest Ben, I wish I could give you a BIG HUG! I am so immensely proud of you! I appreciate, admire and have much respect for your strength of character, that you decided to stand up for yourself, that you decided and took the responsibility upon yourself to educate yourself, that you believed in yourself and that you believe you can do it! I know you can do anything that you put your mind to Ben, because if what you went through as a child only propelled you to higher heights, what is going to stop you? Nothing! You are such an inspiration! You make am Israel proud! You are a lovely person on the inside and very attractive on the outside too, I have to add! I wish I had a daughter, since I VERY much would have liked to have YOU as a son-in-law! You have turned the proverbial lemon into lemonade. It may have been difficult and hurtful at the time, but remember "calm seas don't make good sailors" and likewise this circumstances probably brought out the best in you, which otherwise may have remained dormant, shrouded under the label of "autism". I am so glad you didn't accept that label that they tried to stick on you, since you have risen so far above it! All of us have times when we struggle to understand a concept - it may not be our ideal subject - and I am so glad that you realized that it is not a big deal and found other subjects that you excel in! What a boring place this would have been if all of us were good in all of the same subjects - there would have been big voids in our society! You are destined to achieve much in your life Ben! Todah rabah for joining the IDF, not only to protect Israel, but all of the Jewish people too! You will make a difference to the IDF with your unique gifts - and I thank you in advance for that! Please know that I am immensely proud of you and that I admire you! Life is not always easy (as you already know), but go forth in strength Ben! May Hashem make you prosper in all that you put your hand and heart to!

(20) Aviva, October 17, 2017 5:37 PM


What awesome strength lies within u!! How much courage.. there's No Limit! For u r an Eternal Soul!! Thank u for tapping within urself n finding n thereby sharing ur amazing strength inherent within each of us!!! Thank u for sharing ur gift!! Keep sharing more!!

(19) Jonathan Keefe, October 17, 2017 5:14 PM

Thank you for inspiring all of us

Hatzlacha to you. I hope you accomplish great things. I am sorry for all of your suffering.

(18) Bobby5000, October 17, 2017 11:30 AM


The teacher said, "what's happening here is wrong, people are being hurt, and if no one else will stand up for what is right, I will." So you are going to speak out on behalf of that bullied child another asked. "What," she said quizzically, who cares about that, I was talking about the healthcare surcharge in the new contract.

When I was in school, I saw students repeatedly bullied in front on teachers and their doing nothing about it . (there was no shortage of teachers speaking out on financial issues though). When asked even today, schools invariably talk about their commitment to preventing and punishing bullying. After a student was sent undercover, one movie showed about how bullying was tolerated despite the school's professed concerns.

Since schools and teachers generally do not care, students should acquire good fighting skills. Indivualized instruction in self-defense is far more effective than teaching long-term skills in something like karate. Students should never be told to ignore bullying because it increases, self-esteem is crushed, other students join, others bully, and the cycle of problems increases as teachers and administrators pretend not to notice.

Nancy, October 20, 2017 1:46 PM

To commenter #18 Bobby5000

Re: Acquiring fighting skills. The problem is that in all likelihood the student with the disability would get suspended while who knows what would happen to the perpetrator. If the student is in public school, the parents need to find out their school district's anti bullying policy. If the child attends day school, they need to ask the same question. If the latter has no bullying policy, then the parents need to review federal education guidelines on bullying in an educational setting. As an educational advocate, I heard about a child who was being bullied because of his race. When I advised them of anti bullying laws, we went to the school district administration. The result? The bullying stopped. (No, it didn't happen as quickly as that. It took persistence, but you get the idea.)

(17) Susan, October 16, 2017 11:30 PM

You are very brave and your story is heartfelt and inspiring. I wish you much success in the Israeli army. I have three sons who served in the IDF combat units and I could not be more proud. May you go from strength to strength!!

(16) sylvia cohen, October 16, 2017 7:18 PM

you are great

I want to tell you that you make me feel so good and I think that you are great smart and very good looking guy so don't listing to no buddy just do what you believe in doing good job
kol hakavod

(15) Tovah, October 16, 2017 2:12 PM

thank you

The best part of your presentation is how you present your self. May only good be granted you by Hashem.

(14) jacob, October 16, 2017 12:25 PM

Appreciate you very much!

You are a great person! Continue on! Good luck!

(13) Anonymous, October 16, 2017 12:23 PM

Can't forgive Mengele!

Though it's for your psychological wellbeing but there are other methods. Forgiving is for Jews that hurt you. This bastard yimaj shmo veshem zijro would prefer you dead. Why forgive him? If i would know where he is I would butcher him and cut him to small, small pieces as revenge for what he did to my family and my people!

(12) Leah Gross, October 16, 2017 1:03 AM


Thank you for this inspiring video! May you continue to succeed in everything you do!

(11) Rachel, October 15, 2017 7:33 PM

My Nickname was Retarded

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You have helped many out there understand bullying is cruel and inspiring those with disabilities you can make it. ❤️ Hugs

(10) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 7:01 PM


Speechless! Thank you for sharing your story! Kol Hakavod for all your hard work and for not giving up in such hard times! You are a self made person and those are the best:)

(9) Ayelet May, October 15, 2017 5:32 PM


Rock on, soldier! Keep reaching for the stars and spreading your powerful message.

(8) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 4:51 PM

Go Ben, Go!!!

(7) Joanne, October 15, 2017 4:43 PM

Believe You Can -- And You Will

What a beautiful, inspiring story! I also learned the hard way that I have to speak up for myself. You are an inspiration to all!! Thank you.

(6) dvora waysman, October 15, 2017 4:31 PM

Author of 14 books, syndicated journalist world-wide

I find Aish Com's articles inspiring and uplifting.

(5) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 3:21 PM


I have never been able to understand the cruelty of people toward anyone at all but it is obviously most keenly felt by those with disabilities. I am so happy for this young man- that he has triumphed in spite of those who bullied him and those who stood in his way. People who have never been bullied do not understand how devastating and lasting the effect can be.

(4) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 3:02 PM

The adults in his high school failed him

I wish the bullying had been stopped in his tracks. The all around mistreatment infuriated me.

(3) anonymous, October 15, 2017 1:12 PM


Wow! What an inspirational role model. Must be shown in every school etc.. In our current world of "victimology" where everyone is busy celebrating their "special needs" and "safety spaces" and kids, teens and adults are being labeled and drugged up ad nauseum , here is a shining example of emotional healthy empowerment. I love this guy! May G-d continue to bless him with many happy and healthy years so that he can share his wisdom and common sense with the rest of the world!

(2) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 12:41 PM

Thank you!

I don't even have the words to tell you how great I think you are! My 26 year old son has autism. While he was not bullied in high school as you were, I know he was miserable every single day. You are beyond awesome!!

(1) Anonymous, October 15, 2017 11:33 AM

and I might add-BEAUTIFUL and STRONG !


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