Research throws new light on why children with autism are often bullied

August 7, 2013, University of Manchester

(Medical Xpress)—A study of hundreds of teachers and parents of children on the autistic spectrum has revealed factors why they are more or less likely to be bullied.

Dr Judith Hebron and Professor Neil Humphrey from The University of Manchester, say older are more likely to be bullied than – going against prevailing thought.

The survey of 722 teachers and 119 parents also revealed that the would be more likely to be bullied at mainstream, rather than special schools. However, smaller class sizes and a higher ratio of adults to pupils are two of a number of reasons why there may be fewer opportunities for bullying in special schools.

Bullying is less likely if they have strong of friends and teachers and when parents actively engage with their school.

But poor behaviour associated with the condition also leads to bullying as can use of public transport to travel to and from school.

And those children without a 'statement' – entitling them to specific support and provision - are also less likely to be bullied than children at School Action Plus.

School Action Plus is not legally binding and less extensive than a statement.

Because younger students have less complicated , they may be more tolerant of autism, argue the researchers.

However, as they grow older, tolerance of difference may decrease because teenagers often want to adhere more closely to peer group norms, they say.

The results are published in the journal Autism. Dr Hebron said: "Children with autism are easy targets because their behaviour may be regarded as odd or different, and our research tells us this is likely to result in bullying, teasing and .

"At its most extreme, bullying results in suicide, self-harm, low self-esteem, and difficulties at school.

"But not all of these children are bullied, and as researchers, we are interested in finding out why."

She added: "Our results send out a message to parents and teachers to help them identify opportunities where they can intervene to prevent bullying.

"Having an adult on public transport, for example, might be a way to decrease the likelihood of bullying: unstructured social situations with little or no adult supervision are, according to our results, likely to lead to bullying

"Contrary to what people may think, many children on the autistic spectrum – with support from their school and parents –wish to and are able to make friends, so our findings on the importance of social networks are potentially important.

"Peer groups can be very inclusive and a positive culture within a school with a zero tolerance of bullying can nurture this type of environment."

The article is titled "Risk and protective factors Exposure to among students with autism spectrum conditions: A multi-informant analysis of risk and protective factors."

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4 comments

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Moebius
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2013
People are bullied because they can be bullied. Take one bully and beat him to death on television with the clear message that that's what's going to happen to all others and I guarantee it will totally stop within days. Is that more cruel and unusual than allowing it to continue?
DarkHorse66
3 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2013
Sure, there is plenty of bullying going on, for bullying sake. It is about asserting power & control, often for the fun of it. Unfortunately the article does have a point An autistics person often can't fight back as well as a neurotypical one can and that makes them look weak in the eyes of a bully, thus a tempting target. Apart from reduced social skill (esp. during the growing up period) there is also a language disfunction that is a facet of autism/AS. In my case, my language skills are high, but I can have difficulty finding the right/most appropriately descriptive words for what I want to say, spontaneously. I usually have to think about them, to find the right one(s) first. I think that you will agree with me that this is not an ideal situation when having to deal quickly with a bully. Having to 'word-hunt' makes essay writing a bastard too.Or having to ask the exact meaning of an assignment question, because you can't be sure that you have understood EXACTLY what information..
DarkHorse66
3 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2013
...it is giving or requiring of you. You need to be on the alert that you don't misunderstand oral instructions because you have a tendency to automatically take them literally. I have trouble 'reading' people and that can be another cause of conflict too, because I then can 'misrespond' to them. Being called 'stupid' and being treated as a person of little or no significance, even ignored, just because the above 'lacks' get in the way. As an adult, I still get taken advantage of, every so often and on occasions even bullied, even now. This is my everyday Aspergers' reality, high IQ or not. If you think that there is no difference between someone like me and a 'normal' person, then you haven't understood what the article is trying to say. DH66
MaryTormey
not rated yet Aug 16, 2013
There is more then one type of bullying. Getting spit on and having things thrown at you really is not that big of a deal compared to the fear and intimidation drug companies and related charities use. At state hospitals bullying people into taking drugs is common practice. They repeatedly tortured me with sound and used the TV to encourage patients to bully me. They have a lot of quieter buildings could they have just let me have a safe place to sleep? No there program of TV and drugging was more important then my safety. Many nights they would turn the volume on the TV down just enough to where I would wake up screaming in agony and interrupt the best parts of TV and movies. They where the ones who carelessly tortured me with Risperdal even after the drug had obviously done significant damaged. They increased my sound sensitivity to the point I couldn't even enjoy my favorite TV shows. These are not bad people, but they don't have the authority to allow for basic rights or dignity.

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