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Recognizing and helping autistic children with bullying

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Bullying can occur physically, verbally, and socially. Teasing, name-calling, hitting, rude gestures, embarrassing someone through rumors or actions, or alienating someone are all forms of bullying.

In a 2012 study by the Interactive Autism Network, 63% of children between the ages of 6 and 15 with autism spectrum disorder were subject to bullying at one point in their lives.

Bullying can occur physically, verbally, and socially. Teasing, name-calling, hitting, rude gestures, embarrassing someone through rumors or actions, or alienating someone are all forms of bullying.

There generally isn't one defining reason for why someone gets bullied, but autistic children often struggle with bullies and exclusion from peers.

Unfortunately, autistic children become prime targets for bullying because of some of the characteristics associated with an autism spectrum disorder.

  • Lack of coordination
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Struggling to start or continue conversations
  • Preferring social isolation
  • Lack of understanding of simple questions or requests
  • Inability to recognize social cues or others' feelings

As a parent or guardian, you can make a difference in your child's life by taking proactive measures against bullying.

  • Look for signs of depression, anxiety, health complaints, sudden injuries, and poor academic achievement. All of these are potential signals that a child is being bullied.
  • Talk to your child about bullying and why it's wrong.
  • Monitor your child's friendships and ask specific questions about the people with whom they are spending time.
  • Stay in contact with your child's teachers and principal at school. They can help set boundaries and report any inappropriate behavior they notice in the classroom. They can also appoint someone to help your child throughout the day and protect them against bullies.
  • Encourage playtime outside of school where you can supervise quality interactions between your child and others.

Work with school employees, fellow parents, and your child to identify any signs of bullying. It's possible your child won't recognize the signs on their own, so every extra pair of eyes makes a lasting impact.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. April is National Autism Awareness Month.

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