Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. (CDC, 2016) Autism and bullying surrounding those with ASD is a serious issue. There are many different types of bullying that can occur among children and adolescents. Physical bullying, verbal bullying, relational bullying, and cyberbullying are all common forms of this type of aggression. 

  • Physical bullying refers to any type of physical aggression, such as hitting, tripping, or kicking. 
  • Verbal bullying entails the use of hurtful words or name-calling. 
  • Relational bullying involves damaging someone’s social relationships, such as by spreading rumors or excluding someone from a group. 
  • Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place online, via text messages, social media, or other digital platforms. 

Although each type of bullying has its own unique features, all forms of bullying can have serious negative consequences for the victim. Victims of bullying may experience increased anxiety and depression, as well as problems with school performance and social relationships. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the different types of bullying and to take steps to prevent it from occurring.

Bullying and Autism

Bullying can manifest itself in many ways. It often occurs in school settings, where teenagers spend a lot of their time. While it can happen to anyone, teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are uniquely affected. They are more likely to be targeted for bullying because of their differences and may not understand why they are being bullied. Often suffering from sensory symptoms can lead to them being an easy target as they can become  They also may not have the social skills to defend themselves or to report the bullying. This can lead to a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. (Nauta et al., 2016)

Steps To Help My Autistic Teen That Is Getting Bullied

When you become aware of a situation that involves your or someone else’s child being bullied, there are some things to consider. First, it is important to listen without judgment and let them know that they are not alone. You can also provide support and understanding, which can help them feel safe and accepted. Additionally, you can help them develop social skills so that they can better defend themselves in the future. Finally, you should encourage them to report the bullying so it can be stopped. There are a few things you can do if you see someone being bullied because they have ASD: 

  • Stand up for the victim and show them that you support them. 
  • Help the victim to develop coping strategies for dealing with bullying. 
  • Report any incidents of bullying to a teacher or adult you trust. 
  • If you are being bullied because you have ASD, tell someone you trust about it.

What to Look For

There are some signs to look for if you are concerned that your child is being bullied. These include changes in mood or behavior, problems with sleep or appetite, a decrease in school performance, and social withdrawal. (Nauta et al., 2016) If you notice any of these changes, it is important to talk to your child and get more information. You should also contact their school so that they can be aware of the situation and take steps to stop the bullying.

Autism and bullying is a serious issue that can have long-lasting effects on teenagers with ASD. By being supportive and understanding, you can help them cope with the experience and develop the skills they need to prevent it from happening again in the future. For so many people, looking the other way is the easiest thing to do. Helping vulnerable teens grow and thrive in a safe environment may take some effort, but in reality, it is the best thing to do for all parties. Being proactive and vigilant for signs of bullying can make a world of difference to those affected. 


CDC. (2016). bully prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/fastfact.html

Nauta, M. H., Scholte, R. H., & Van Berckelaer-Onnes, I. A. (2016). The experiences of bullying among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Autism, 20(8), 949-963. doi:10.1177/1362361315619801