Saturday, August 10, 2013

Study examines autism risk factors for bullying

A survey by British researchers has determined that children with autism who have strong support networks are less likely to be bullied in school.

As related by Michelle Diament at Disability Scoop, the study asked 722 teachers and 119 parents of children on the autism spectrum about the children’s experience with bullying. The children ranged in age from 5 to 15.

Cynthia Parkhill wearing "No Bully" pin on her hat
My “No Bully” mug shot
From personal experience, the study’s findings make sense; I always felt friendless and isolated from other children even when I was not directly attacked.

This is why I emphasize the important role of bystanders to combat bullying. This is why I highlight student training and resources like ChoicePoint in Southern Oregon.

The study identified other factors that can influence bullying: children who struggled with behavior problems, attended mainstream classrooms instead of special education and relied on public transportation or school buses each day were at higher risk of bullying. Having parents who were actively engaged at school reduced a child’s risk of bullying.

Diamant adds, the study joins “a growing body of evidence on the vulnerability of children with autism to bullying.”

This “growing body of evidence” is reassuring to me that what I endured was a common experience; I was not as alone and isolated as my circumstances made me feel. Other people overcame similar challenges.

As related by Diamant, “Findings released last year from a survey of about 1,200 parents in the United States indicated that 63 percent of children with autism have been bullied.”

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