According to a recent study, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely than their peers to experience bullying. In addition, it was found that the bullying became worse as the children got older. As a consequence of their social skill deficits, difficulties in relationships, and emotional reactivity, children with ASD are thought to be the “perfect victim” of bullying. Many children with ASD lack the ability to stand up to bullying and don’t know how to seek help. The study hopes to make clear that bullying of children with ASD is a serious issue and to make parents and educators aware of the issue.
The study out of Binghamton University first aimed at contextualizing bullying. The study focused on the teachers and parents of children with ASD as well as members of the community who did not have children with ASD. Study participants took a survey involving 80 scenarios of interactions between two school-aged children. Sixty-four of the scenarios contained bullying behavior, whether it was physical, verbal, interpersonal, or cyber. Participants were asked to rate the severity of the interaction and categorize the type of bullying behavior.
The study found that parents and teachers of children with ASD predicted higher severity of bullying scenarios than those without children with ASD. The study showed that bullying behavior was especially problematic for parents of older children with ASD. Researchers plan to further the study to determine whether the types of bullying children with ASD experience differs from other bullying scenarios.
A survey by Autism Speaks found that children with ASD who were mainstreamed at school were 6.5 times more likely to experience bullying than children in a special needs setting. A reason for this may be that, despite being mainstreamed, children with ASD are still treated differently from their peers. Many remain isolated despite being in a classroom full of children. It is important for parents and teachers to understand the prevalence of bullying and that schools adopt anti-bullying policies to help these children feel safe.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.