Children with Autism Bullied 3 Times as Much
Synopsis: Preliminary results of national survey examines the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders. These children, who are sometimes intentionally "triggered" into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by peers, are bullied three times more frequently than their siblings who do not have ASD. Types of bullying most often reported include being teased, picked on or made fun of (73 percent); being ignored or left out of things deliberately (51 percent); being called bad names (47 percent); and being pushed, shoved, hit, slapped or kicked (nearly 30 percent).
New data shows children with autism bullied three times more frequently than their unaffected siblings - The Interactive Autism Network reports 63 percent of children with autism have been bullied.
The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) reports preliminary results of the first national survey to examine the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The results show that 63 percent of children with ASD have been bullied at some point in their lives. These children, who are sometimes intentionally "triggered" into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by peers, are bullied three times more frequently than their siblings who do not have ASD.
"These survey results show the urgent need to increase awareness, influence school policies and provide families and children with effective strategies for dealing with bullying," said Dr. Paul Law, director of the IAN Project at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "We hope that this research will aid efforts to combat bullying by helping parents, policymakers, and educators understand the extent of this problem in the autism community and be prepared to intervene."
Nearly 1,200 parents of children with ASD completed the survey. Findings show that these children (ages 6 to 15 years) are especially vulnerable to bullying, and point to several risk factors.
Where and When Bullying Occurs
- While bullying occurred at every grade level, between 5th and 8th grades appeared to be the worst, with 42 to 49 percent of children with ASD in those grades currently bullied.
- Children with ASD attending regular public schools are bullied at nearly 50 percent more than children in private school or special education settings.
- Types of bullying most often reported include being teased, picked on or made fun of (73 percent); being ignored or left out of things deliberately (51 percent); being called bad names (47 percent); and being pushed, shoved, hit, slapped or kicked (nearly 30 percent).
Potential Risk Factors
- Behaviors and traits associated with becoming a target of bullying include clumsiness, poor hygiene, rigid rule keeping, talking obsessively about a favorite topic, frequent meltdowns and inflexibility.
- Of those children who want to interact with others, but have a hard time making friends, 57 percent are bullied, compared to only 25 percent of children who prefer to play alone and 34 percent of children who will play, but only if approached.
- Across ASD diagnoses, 61 percent of children with Asperger's syndrome experienced bullying, a rate nearly double that of children with other diagnoses on the autism spectrum. This may be due in part to different school placement across the groups.
- While parents reported that 39 percent of children with ASD were bullied in the month before the survey, only 12 percent of their typically developing siblings, ages 6 to 15, were bullied in the same time frame, indicating children with ASD are bullied at a rate more than three times higher than their unaffected siblings.
Experience as Bullies and "Bully-Victims"
While children with ASD are frequently victims, they may also behave as bullies, or at least be viewed as a bully.
- 52 percent of parents indicated that peers taunted their child to intentionally trigger a meltdown or aggressive outburst.
- 46 percent of children with ASD have been a victim of bullying only, while 17 percent of children with ASD have been a bully victim, defined as a child who has been bullied and also bullied others.
Researchers believe that the deficits in social understanding common in children with ASD may lead to bullying behavior by the child who is different from that displayed by typically developing children. For example, an honest but socially unacceptable remark such as, "You're fat," by the child with ASD may be viewed by others as purposely cruel when it is not. Likewise, a child with ASD who is accidentally bumped into might misinterpret this as intentional, and lash out in a way that looks like bullying.
"Children with ASD are already vulnerable. To experience teasing, taunts, ostracism or other forms of spite may make a child who was already struggling to cope become completely unable to function," said Dr. Law. "The issue is complex, and we plan to analyze the data carefully and publish peer-reviewed findings that will serve to advance policy and care for individuals with ASD."
The Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey was developed by the IAN Project's autism experts in partnership with Benjamin Zablotsky, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, the deputy director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention and an expert on bullying.
This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Autism Information section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Children with Autism Bullied 3 Times as Much" was originally written by Kennedy Krieger Institute, and submitted for publishing on 2012/03/27 (Edit Update: 2022/04/10). Should you require further information or clarification, Kennedy Krieger Institute can be contacted at kennedykrieger.org. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
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Cite This Page (APA): Kennedy Krieger Institute. (2012, March 27). Children with Autism Bullied 3 Times as Much. Disabled World. Retrieved February 21, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/bully.php
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