Bullying Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Bullying is an issue that is too common in schools across the United States. Kids of all ages, races, gender, and sexual orientation fall vulnerable to those that overpower them and sometimes, the consequences can be deadly. Students who are normally developing and get bullied are the majority of stories to get televised, while kids who have an autism spectrum disorder fall through the cracks, despite having a higher risk of being bullied due to their differences and lack of social skills. Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will more likely to be bullied due to their low theory of mind (ToM) and their inability to be taught through the social cognitive theory to help prevent them from falling into victimization of their normally developing peers. In “Why Autistic Kids Make Easy Targets for School Bullies,” by Maia Szalavitz, discusses a study’s findings in children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied five times as often as their normal peers. However, parents and teachers think the rates are higher. Szalavitz explained children with ASD have difficulty picking up on social cues, make them a target for bullying. Children with higher functioning of ASD were more likely to be bullied because the physical characteristics of their disability are not displayed as vigorously and their social handicaps are more obvious and make it harder for peers to notice. Children with ASD who were higher in functioning were three times more likely to be bullied. Parents of autistic children think bullying may be a lot higher and the rates of being a bully are lower because those kids have difficulties with communication and being able to comprehend social contexts. Since most children with autism cannot recognize they are being bullied and an understanding of how to harass others from social information, they cannot report accurately. Research shows anti-bullying programs are the best when they are comprehensive and involve all students, not just individuals; along with social integration in classrooms of kids with autism into peer groups. This enhances the empathy and social skills of peers. In the peer-reviewed journal, “Bully among Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Prevalence and Perception,” (van Roekel, Scholte, and Didden, 2010) examined similar incidences as in the Time article. Their study looked at bullying and victimization in teens with ASD, if they could tell between bullying and victimization, and whether their Theory of Mind and bullying were related. They collected data from 230 teenagers with ASD who attended special education schools. The teenagers had to rate on a 5-point Likert scale fitted by two descriptions of bullying and victimization, and the teenagers had to answer “bullies other children,” and “is victimized” rating from “never” “to several times a week.” The teachers also filled out the same questionnaire as the peer ratings, but rating every child in the class. Participants also had to do a self-rating on bullying and victimization. Lastly, they measured the ability to recognize bullying by having the participants watch 14 videos, containing three different types of bullying: physical, verbal, and relational. In the results, they found the rates of bullying and victimization between 6-46%, and teachers reporting of bullying and victimization than peers. Teenagers who scored higher on the teacher and self-report of victimization were also more likely to misinterpret non-bullying situations as bullying. If adolescents bullied more, according to their teachers and peers, and the less developed their Theory of Minds were, they were more likely to misinterpret bullying situations as non-bullying. In the Washington Post, “Study shows almost half of children with autism victimized by bullies,” by Mari-Jane Williams, displays similar information as the Time.com article, showing kids with ASD are four times more likely to be bullied because they struggle with social interactions and...
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