It’s already hard being a teenager, dealing with raging hormones and fitting in with people at school. But for one Illinois teen, these issues are compounded by the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

For being different, the teen, Gavin Joseph, was recently subjected to a brutal beating at the hands of a group of bullies. “He was called to meet someone, surrounded by people he didn’t know, choked, punched, and left [lying] on the pavement so he would ‘learn his lesson,’” his mother Cortnie Stone said in a Facebook post.

What makes this story so inspiring, however, was Gavin’s reaction to the entire ordeal. Despite a mild concussion, cruised esophagus, a hematoma in one eye, and the tip of his nose fractured, he didn’t press charges. Rather, he asked that “their community service be disability related, that they write a paper on Asperger’s, and that they watch a 20-minute video statement he taped” while their families watched it with them, “so they could see the damage they did and hear the event from his perspective.”

Asperger’s syndrome is a condition that falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders. Children with the condition — Gavin had it since 3 years old — typically have difficulty socializing with people, difficulty speaking, and inability to pick up on nonverbal cues. According to Stone, her son often had trouble socializing, often appearing rude, detached, weird, impatient, and uninterested. He also tended to isolate himself from others, even if he considered them to be friends. Nevertheless, she said it’s not intentional, and that he’s also very kind, generous, and forgiving. Indeed, he is.

“I am so proud of him, and I hope a lesson will come of this to all that hear about it,” Stone said on Facebook.

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