Connie Anderson, Ph.D.
IAN Community Scientific Liaison
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Date First Published: March 26, 2012
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Bullying and its consequences
The Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey
How many children were bullied?
Potential risk factors
We asked parents about behaviors common in individuals with ASD to see if any of these behaviors was strongly associated with becoming a victim of bullying. Children with more repetitive behaviors, like flapping or spinning, were less likely to be bullied. We do not know whether this was because they were more likely to have more severe autism and therefore to be in more sheltered school situations, or if this outward sign of a disabling condition made other children less likely to victimize them. Behaviors and traits that were associated with an increased likelihood of being bullied included:
- Poor hygiene
- Rigid rule keeping (enforcing adults' rules when other children would not)
- Continuing to talk about a favorite topic even when others are bored or annoyed
- Frequent meltdowns
- Inflexibility or rigidity
Bullies and “bully-victims”
Bullying and children with ASD: An urgent problemBullying is extremely common in the lives of children with ASD, and occurs at a much higher rate for them than it does for their typically developing siblings. It is crucial that educators, providers, advocates, and families be aware of this, and be prepared to intervene. Children with ASD are already vulnerable in multiple ways. To have to face teasing, taunts, ostracism, or other forms of spite may make a child who is already struggling to cope completely unable to function. If a child was anxious, or dealing with issues of self-control, or unable to focus before there was any bullying, imagine how impossible those issues must seem when bullying is added to the mix. Cruelest of all is the fact that bullying may further impair the ability of a child with ASD, who is already socially disabled, to engage with the social world. "The bully made life a complete hell for my son," said one mother who withdrew her child from school. "He came home from school crying every day and begging to never have to go back." Said another, "This has had a significant influence on my daughter's ability to trust her peers and develop new relationships."
There is clearly an urgent need to increase awareness, influence school policies, and provide families and children with effective strategies for dealing with bullying, whether a child is a bully, victim, or bully-victim. It is our hope that this research will contribute to these efforts.
- Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit - developed by Autism Speaks, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, PACER’s National Bullying Center, and Ability Path in partnership with the new documentary film BULLY.
- National Public Radio report on the IAN Bullying survey.
- News video on IAN Bullying survey featuring a young girl with Asperger’s, whose mother decided to home school after bullying incidents, as well as IAN’s Dr. Connie Anderson.
- Interview with IAN's Dr. Connie Anderson on Bullying Survey results.
- Bullying and ASD – an article on IAN Community with additional background information on bullying and children on the autism spectrum.
- National Autism Association Safety Initiative: Bullying – information plus “5 things parents can do."
- The Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention & Advocacy Collaborative (BACPAC) is a bullying-focused initiative at Children's Hospital Boston. A multidisciplinary group acts as an information resource to colleagues, patients, and schools regarding bullying/cyberbullying prevention, detection and intervention. Team members are also involved in bullying research.
- New Research on Children with ASD and Aggression – an article on the latest research.
- Autism research webinar on aggression and autism.
Children With Autism Are Often Targeted By Bullies | WWNO
NPR.org - WWNO
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