Bullying continues to be a formidable issue within the school system. National studies have popped out the average number of students bullied: 28 percent. That’s the average, though. For teens on the spectrum, the odds of being bullied spike up. While you may not want to hear it, bullying teen with autism is the easy route.
Teens with autism often hang around the fringes. Sometimes they’re even considered outcasts just because they’re different. This makes them ripe for picking in the eyes of a bully. Why bring this up, though? Well, while being a target for bullying, teens with autism also frequently don’t tell anyone about what’s happening.
Why do teens with autism stay quiet about bullying?
Well, think about what teens on the spectrum struggle with commonly: communication and social cues. This can make it hard for them to express the situation to adults that could intervene.
Another reason is that they may feel pressured to not tell anyone. If they’re already struggling to fit in, the thought of telling someone and bringing attention to the situation could be extremely frightening. Because of this, bullying teen with autism can continue to happen uninterrupted.
Why does bullying teen with autism happen at a higher rate?
In one study, it was found that students with autism are bullied at a rate four times that of neurotypical students–why is it so high?
As I said before, teens with autism have characteristics that make them more likely to be bullied. They’re often challenged with social situations and like to stick to strict rituals. For bullies, this means that they’re easier to humiliate and mess with.
Bullies see these vulnerabilities and quickly swoop in to hit at them. And because kids with autism frequently keep quiet, it continues. Clearly, action needs to be taken.
Suggestions for stamping out bullying
While impossible to fully eradicate bullying, steps may still be taken to lessen it. Indiana University and the Network of Autism Training and Technical Assistance Programs collaborated on a list of ways schools can lessen the issue of bullying a teen with autism:
- Create a school-wide no-bullying policy that clearly describes the various forms of bullying, outlines procedures to be followed when bullying occurs, and articulates consequences.
- Address anti-bullying as part of your school-wide positive behavior support program. Establish rules and post these throughout the school. Rules should not be stated simply in negative terms (telling students what not to do), but should tell students how they are to act.
- Hold meetings in which bullying is discussed. Allow students to provide examples and discuss how it felt to be bullied. Make sure students know the consequences for bullying. At the same time, make sure they also understand the importance of establishing positive relationships.
- Highlight students who have exhibited acceptance toward classmates. Staff should acknowledge random acts of kindness by posting notices in central locations. Staff can also distribute reward cards to students when they notice students treating classmates in a positive fashion.
- Educate students about supporting others and their differences. Bullying teen with autism happens often because bullies view these kids as being separate from them–we need to help students understand that teens on the spectrum are students, too.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Bullying a teen with autism can lead to serious harm later in life if not properly handled. If you believe your child is struggling in a typical school environment, seek out professional guidance.
Seven Stars is a program that treats teens with neurodevelopmental disorders. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy, and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how we help at Seven Stars, contact us today at 844-601-1167