Bullying is a significant problem in the school system. With more and more children with Autism or other special needs, bullying has become an even larger issue for parents to worry about. How can parents better protect their autistic children from bullies?
Every kid is entitled to a secure and healthy learning environment. That aim is difficult to attain because of autism bullying. Regrettably, it’s all too prevalent.
According to the Autism Society of America, kids with autism are 63 percent more likely than their neurotypical counterparts to be bullied.
Children with severe autism aren’t the only ones who are at danger.
According to researchers, high-functioning autistic children engage with normal classmates more often than other autistic youngsters. This increased engagement draws attention to their impairment, making them a target for bullying. Children with good communication abilities are three times more likely to be bullied than those with weak or non-existent communication skills.
In the prevention of autism bullying, parents and teachers play critical responsibilities. They must not only listen to and help victims, but also reach out to the perpetrators. Because many children with autism bully others, this is a problem that must be handled.
What Exactly Is Bullying?
Childhood is a period for trying new things. Children play around with their words, actions, and emotions. It’s typical for kids to do injury to one another as they figure out what is and isn’t proper. Bullying towards people with autism is distinct.
According to the Interactive Autism Network, all children have wounded emotions from time to time, and most would agree that their classmates may be cruel. Bullying, on the other hand:
- Repeated. The activities are repeated again and over.
- Targeted. The victim has been hand-picked for the assault.
- It’s all about power. The bully seeks to show that he or she is superior to the victim.
Bullying may come in a variety of ways. In schools around the nation, verbal abuse, physical assault, and social rejection are all prevalent tactics. Bullies who use the internet to abuse their victims use harsh social media postings, rude text messages, and online rumors to do it.
Is your child a target for bullies?
Bullying is linked to feelings of guilt. For fear of seeming weak or infantile, several victims conceal their abuse. The offenders promote the quiet by threatening youngsters with dire repercussions if they speak out. To assist your youngster, you may need to train as a detective.
According to the National Autistic Society, frequent autistic bullying indicators include:
- Dishevelment. Your youngster may return home with soiled clothing, misplaced belongings, or injuries.
- Lateness. To avoid the bullies, your youngster can take an alternative route to and from school.
- Excuses. Your youngster may pretend to be unwell in order to avoid school and social commitments.
- Symptoms. Increased tantrums, stimming, or vocalization might all be signs of something more serious.
- The way people behave changes. Bullying may cause you to sleep late, weep often, or shout at family members.
Start a dialogue if you observe these indicators. Inquire of your youngster about:
- Nicknames. Taunts may come in the form of obnoxious nicknames.
- Habits. At lunch, who does the youngster sit with? Is the youngster seated alone?
- Friends. Who would your youngster consider to be his or her best friend? Inquire as to why the names change every week.
- Classes and extracurricular activities Which part of the day does your kid despise the most? That might be when bullying is at its worst.
Request assistance from your child’s teacher to further your research. Make an appointment and tell them what you’ve found thus far. Inquire about the observations made by the instructor. Is your kid well-liked? Is the instructor familiar with bullying? What does your youngster do with his or her leisure time?
If you and your kid agree that your child is being bullied because of his or her autism, it’s time to take action.
Autism Bullying Prevention Techniques
If your kid is being bullied, consider a three-pronged strategy to dealing with the situation. Begin by assisting your youngster. Then enlist the help of authoritative officials. Finally, discuss long-term prevention with the bully’s parents.
Bullies flourish in an atmosphere of fear, rage, and quiet. A bully feels better the more your youngster responds to a taunt. The CALM method, as recommended by the Autism Society, should be taught to your child:
- C stands for “cool down.” Recognize indicators of stress and battle them with deep breathing and positive value statements.
- A: affirmation. To demonstrate confidence, use positive body language. These abilities may be taught with the help of a therapist.
- L: Take a look. When confronted with a bully, make direct eye contact. Although not all children with autism exhibit this behavior naturally, therapists may assist them.
- M: I’m serious. Non-aggressive statements like “Stop that” and “Leave me alone” should be part of your child’s repertoire.
Some of these measures help to prevent bullying. Others assist in the prevention of an assault that is already underway. However, they may not be able to completely solve the issue.
Bullying is both harmful and dangerous. Don’t let things go on like this.
All bullying incidents, according to anti-bullying proponents, must be reported. Contact:
- The teacher or counsellor of your kid. Request a one-on-one meeting. Make a list of the dates, times, venues, and persons who will be participating.
- Administrators of educational institutions. If your instructor refuses to intervene, escalate the situation. Consult authorities regarding your child’s safety.
- The police force in the area. If your child’s school is unwilling to assist, authorities will.
It is vital to speak out for your kid. Parents who follow these guidelines aren’t nagging. They’re performing vital work to ensure the safety of their children.
Bring the bully’s parents into the dialogue if you know them. Some parents are completely unaware that their children are misbehaving at school, and they appreciate the chance to interfere.
Some bullies, for example, behave aggressively owing to a lack of language or social skills. Anger aids in the concealment of inadequacies. To fit in, a youngster with autism may bully.
Sending an email or phoning the offender’s parents, according to experts, is a good idea. Use a non-confrontational approach and emphasize that you’d want to work together to solve the situation. Propose a meeting where you may discuss your insights and devise a strategy.
Do you have a bully on your hands?
Experimentation and childhood are inextricably linked. Bullying children are not bound to a life of violence. They can focus their abilities in a beneficial way with your assistance. Bullies might have natural leadership abilities. Find methods to assist them in putting their abilities to new uses. Encourage them to instruct younger siblings in a sport or to assist with pet training, for example.
Create an anti-bullying action plan with your kid that includes the following steps:
- Analyze. Determine who and where your youngster bullies.
- Look for significant players. Who has to change in order for the action to cease? Who can assist you? If your child’s bullying is caused by pain, he or she may need medical assistance. If your kid needs to improve his or her communication or empathy abilities, a therapist may be able to assist.
- Determine the next steps. What aspects of your child’s daily routines need to modify in order to improve monitoring and minimize bullying?
- Set the bar high. Explain to your youngster that bullying is never acceptable, and what efforts you’re doing to put an end to it.
- Please check in. Set up a weekly appointment with your kid to check in on the progress of these stages. If they aren’t, make the necessary changes to the plan.
If you can’t stop the activity on your own, get assistance. Experts warn that some youngsters who bully have personality problems, and that they need to work with counselors to break their bad behaviors for good. Children like these may be born without empathy, or they may just be unaware of the consequences of their behavior. Counseling may be necessary to help them alter their paths early in life.
What Can Schools Do to Assist?
Bullying may be prevented by parents and children, but teachers and other school personnel also have a role to play. You’re a key role model for your pupils and are on the front lines of child-child interactions. What you say and do have an impact.
Bullying incidents are common, according to experts, in:
- Congested corridors
- Buses for students
Your pupils may be angels at their desks, but they may act quite differently in these other environments. If you can, include them in your patrols.
If you notice bullying, take action right away. Experts advise not conversing with the youngsters at the same time. Separately, talk to them about what transpired. Attempt to comprehend how the incident began, and show support for both the bully and the victim. If you’re not sure what to say, get advice from your school counselor.
The more information you have about bullying, the better. According to research, instructors who are well-versed in bullying principles intervene more often than those who aren’t. If you want further assistance, request that your institution send you to training classes to enhance your knowledge.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.