IAN’s research quotes ASD researcher and writer, Patricia Howlin, who said, “The inability of children with autism to stand up for themselves and the ease with which they can be reduced to tears of rage or frustration by others make them ‘perfect victims.’” She adds, “Often they are unclear if they are being bullied, or if what is happening in their own fault….”
Forbes reports that almost two-thirds of autistic children had been bullied at some point in their lives, and they were three times more likely than neurotypical kids to be bullied in the past three months. The three most common types of bullying were verbal, or, in other words, psychological in nature: “being teased, picked on, or made fun of” (73%); “being ignored or left out of things on purpose” (51%), and “being called bad names” (47%). But almost a third of autistic children also experienced physical bullying – being shoved, pushed, slapped, hit, or kicked, Forbes further reports.
A research study by Liza Little from the University of New Hampshire found that mothers reported a 94% rate of peer victimization. They additionally reported in the study that nearly three-quarters of their children had been hit by peers or siblings in the past year and the same amount had been emotionally bullied. They also reported that 10% of their children were attacked by a gang in the past year and 15% were victims of nonsexual assaults to the genitals.
Forbes reports that over half of the autistic children surveyed had experienced intentional triggering of meltdowns or had been “provoked into fighting back.”
According to IAN’s research, although those with ASD appear more likely to be targets than bullies, researchers are continuing to look into whether they may also be more likely to become bullies themselves. IAN points out that many children with ASD require treatment for aggressive behavior or meltdowns, which may make them more likely to be perceived as bullies. Additionally, IAN’s research suggests that since children with ASD tend to have a limited insight into social behavior, they may be more likely to bully without being realizing or understanding that they are acting aggressive, intimidating or how their behavior might be impacting those around them.
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