I was recently struck by the results of a new study that indicates that nearly half of kids with autism are bullied. Results gleaned from a survey of 920 students on the autism spectrum suggest that “the risk of being bullied was greatest for high-functioning children who end up not in special education programs, but in mainstream classes, where their quirks and unusual mannerisms stand out and they are more exposed to bullies.”
It’s no secret that bullying is a widespread issue in both schools and workplaces. The media is flooded with reports of bullying and its devastating effects. In fact, Paul R. Sterzing, lead author of the new study, calls bullying a “profound public health problem.”
In response to this deep concern, throughout the month of October, schools, organizations, and communities have been celebrating National Bullying Prevention Month. Run, Walk, Roll events are taking place across the country, digital petitions to stop bullying are circulating across the web, and entire online communities of people dedicated to ending bullying behavior are spreading the word by sharing stories, art, and videos that raise awareness and promote kindness and acceptance. These efforts are vital to increasing respect for all individuals, and I’m pleased to see so many positive solutions and responses becoming more and more prominent.
One resource that I think is enormously useful to anyone affected by the bullying of individuals with special needs is PACER’s fact sheet [PDF] titled “Bullying and Harassment of Students With Disabilities: Top 10 Facts Parents, Educators, and Students Need to Know.” This document outlines how bullying can adversely affect a student’s education; how, when based on a student’s disability, bullying could be considered harassment; how individualized education programs (IEPs) can be used in bullying prevention; and how peer involvement, adult involvement, and self-advocacy are also keys to stopping bullying.
Autism Empowerment Radio has an outstanding podcast that complements this resource. In it, Autism Empowerment executive director Karen Krejcha explains the ten facts in great detail, discusses positive solutions, and shares a bit of experience as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum.
One of the things I love about heading a company like CPI is that we are dedicated to helping people find solutions to troubling issues. We share techniques and resources to help you prevent and respond to difficult behavior, and every day we work to expand our reach to make our training available to more and more professionals who share our philosophy of Care, Welfare, Safety, and Security℠ for all.
With that in mind, I want to share a couple of the resources we offer that are accessible to anyone who wants to prevent bullying and promote autism awareness.
First, we recently posted a new article titled “10 Ways to Help Reduce Bullying in Schools,” which is intended to help schools develop the clear definitions of bullying and set the clear and enforceable rules and expectations that are vital to addressing bullying behavior.
Additionally, I can’t highlight enough the value of our recent guest post in our ASD Today: Advancing Autism Awareness blog. Chelsea Budde, cofounder of the autism awareness nonprofit Good Friend, Inc., shares a treasure trove of “Tips for Interacting With Individuals With Autism” with respect. Her tips are based on self-advocate Sarah Stup’s 9 Ways to Interact With People With Autism, and they are invaluable to helping neurotypical people understand the unique perspectives of people with autism—to recognizing that each individual with autism is an individual, and that to best honor that individual, we must gain a rich understanding of him or her.
I urge you to check out these resources, and I wish you the best in addressing this issue in your school and your community throughout the month of October and beyond.
And please be sure to share with us your questions and experiences in the Comments section below, and keep in mind that we’re here to help you ensure safety and respect for everyone!
Additional Bullying Prevention Resources
Additional Autism Awareness Resources
Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Certified Instructors, learn more about our Autism Spectrum Disorders: Applications of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training advanced course and our Bullying Behaviors: Applying CPI’s Crisis Development Model℠ refresher option.