Last night on NBC‘s Parenthood Max falls victim to bullies. Max thinks that they are all friends and impressed with his math skills, but that is unfortunately not the case. Adam and Kristina are unsure how to deal. When they drop Max off to school, they catch the bullies in the act. Kristina gets out of the car and gives the young boy a piece of her mind and reprimands him for his behavior.
Was Kristina right or wrong? How do you handle bullies? Have you or your child been bullied? If so, how do you respond? Do you have any strategies?
Bullying is an incredibly serious issue. In ‘The Experts Speak,’ Sheila Wagner M.Ed. says, “Bullies. The bane of the educational system. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, races and religions.”
The Interactive Autism Network(IAN) recently launched a national online survey on bullying and children with ASD to begin to address this troublesome issue in the lives of children on the autism spectrum.
Learn more about the bullying survey here.
The U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to include children with disabilities in the least restrictive classroom settings that are possible. At the same time, studies show that different levels of so-called “mainstreaming” present different benefits and challenges.1 And parental preference often varies.2 So the first question to ask yourself is “what type of school placement is the best for my child?”
For instance, you have the option of full inclusion, with all classes taught in a mainstream environment, or partial mainstream, with some proportion of classes taught in a more supportive setting. I also encourage parents to keep in mind the potential advantages of a specialist autism school. Making these decisions should always involve a consultation between parents, teachers and the pupil with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Beyond teaching support, we know that bullying and social exclusion affects the mainstream-school experience of many children with ASD. A recent survey estimated that 44% of children with ASD have been bullied.3 Bullying, in turn, can lead to an increased social isolation and mental health difficulties. Another study suggested that the support of classmates is very important to making the mainstream experience a success for the student with autism.4
One method for encouraging peer relationships is a technique called Circle of Friends, where the child with ASD is at the center of a peer group. This group periodically works on specific goals. Another method, which avoids such a strong focus on the child, is to work on social skills in private or with a group of other children with ASD.
Of course, teacher training remains pivotal to supporting the success of children with ASD in a mainstream classroom. Federal law requires that teachers make reasonable adjustments to their teaching strategies and classroom environment to accommodate the needs of pupils with disabilities. In particular, teachers should be encouraged to adjust the content and delivery of the curriculum, to consider the sensory needs of the pupil, and to welcome the input of both parents and special-needs students when planning their educational programs.
Here are some useful resources, along with references to the studies I mentioned:
1. The Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit
2. The Asperger Syndrome/HFA and the Classroom chapter of the Autism Speaks Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit
3. Bullying and ASD: A Guide for School Staff (UK)
4. IEPs, iPads and Bullies: 10 Tips from a Dad Who’s Been There, a recent Family Services blog from dad James Vaughan
1. Full inclusion and students with autism. Mesibov GB, Shea V. J Autism Dev Disord. 1996 Jun;26(3):337-46.
2. Parental perspectives on inclusion: effects of autism and Down syndrome. Kasari C, Freeman SF, Bauminger N, Alkin MC. J Autism Dev Disord. 1999 Aug;29(4):297-305.
3. Bullying among children with autism and the influence of comorbidity with ADHD: a population-based study. Montes G, Halterman JS. Ambul Pediatr. 2007 May-Jun;7(3):253-7.
4. Inclusion as social practice: views of children with autism. Ochs E, Kremer T, Solomon O, Sirota K. Social Development. 2001;10(3):399–419.
Got more questions? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
View by Category
- Adults with autism
- Autism in the News
- Autism Speaks U
- Corporate Sponsors
- Family Services
- Got Questions?
- Government Relations
- In Their Own Words
- Light It Up Blue
- New Diagnosis of Autism
- Pre-autism Diagnosis
- The Pin Is In
- This Month in Review
- Topic of the Week
- Weekly Whirl
- Why I Walk
- My Five-Year-Old Child Does Not Talk … Will He Ever?
- How common are seizures among people with autism, and what can help?
- My child is sometimes aggressive – what can help?
- Can my taking medication during pregnancy cause autism in my baby?
- Can vitamins, minerals and other supplements relieve autism symptoms?
What We’re Talking About
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- Thank you to everyone who participated in the Cincinnati #Walk Now For Autism Speaks today! http://t.co/ukfUCxQ4zj 18 hours ago
- Checkout this video from our Bay Area #Walk vine.co/v/bEVEYMXPpLu/… 18 hours ago
- Checkout Top Team Mason's Monsters from our Southern NJ Walk with their @buildabear Autism Speaks bear! #Walk http://t.co/EmMNVqsCeC 20 hours ago
- Checkout our recap from the Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks autismspeaks.org/blog/walk/2013… #Walk 21 hours ago
- Checkout the fun we're having at the Wheeling WV Walk Now For Autism Speaks. #Walk #bubbles http://t.co/nPqq1osULA 23 hours ago
Autism Speaks Flickr