bullying

ABOUT BULLYING

Bullying can take many forms, but whether it is physical or psychological, bullying involves an imbalance of power. Students with autism spectrum disorders often lack social cognition and ability to take someone else’s perspective making them prime targets for bullies, especially in early adolescence. The impact of bullying can be profound and debilitating. A growing problem nationwide in schools and other public places, bullying is a serious matter and adults must remain alert and intervene if they believe their child is being victimized.

TYPES OF BULLYING

MANIPULATIVE: Where a child is coerced and controlled
CONDITIONAL FRIENDSHIP: Friendship alternated with bullying behavior
EXPLOITIVE: Features of a child’s condition are used to bully via
technology/social media

FORMS OF BULLYING

  • Verbal aggression including derogatory comments, name-calling, and taunting
  • Social exclusion or isolation
  • Physical aggression such as hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting
  • Spreading lies and false rumors
  • Having money or other things taken or damaged by the aggressor
  • Being threatened or being forced to do things by the aggressor
  • Racial bullying
  • Sexual bullying
  • Cyber bullying (via cell phone or Internet)

WHO IS INVOLVED IN BULLYING SITUATIONS

  • The bully
  • The victim
  • The bystanders
  • Teachers and other professionals
  • Administrators, legislators, policy makers
  • Parents/caregivers

SIGNS OF BULLYING

  • Reluctance to attend school
  • Emotionally sensitive behavior; anxiety
  • Change in daily routines, i.e. diet or sleeping patterns
  • Torn clothing, damaged books or other items
  • Cuts or bruises
  • Decline in academic performance
::  SEE BULLYING RESOURCES
::  DOWNLOAD BULLYING BROCHURE

RESEARCH ON BULLYING

Research shows children with disabilities are two to three times more likely be bullied than their non-disabled peers. Children on the spectrum are even more vulnerable due to differences in communication skills, motor skills and social cognition. A move to inclusive instructional settings can be a double-edged sword as students struggle to truly “belong” with their peers. It’s important for adults to help students learn how to deal with bullies while they are young. They need to gain these vital self-advocacy skills to avoid situations with adult bullying when offenses and consequences can be much more serious.

But studies show the responsibility shouldn’t just lie with the victim. Successful practices are those that create environments of respect and tolerance throughout schools. Bullying must become unacceptable in the school culture so that instances are rare rather than common. Adults must learn how to recognize the signs of bullying, what’s worked and hasn’t worked in school settings, and how to advocate for their children.

A 2009 survey on bullying revealed the following:

  • 65% of parents reported that their children with Asperger’s syndrome had been victimized by peers in some way within the past year
  • 47% reported that their children had been hit by peers or siblings
  • 50% reported them to be scared by their peers
  • 9% were attacked by a gang and hurt in the private parts
  • 12% indicated their child had never been invited to a birthday party
  • 6% were almost always picked last for teams
  • 3% ate alone at lunch every day

Source: Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing (2009)

WHAT IS “SEL”?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) assists children in developing fundamental skills to effectively handle school, relationships, and personal development. High-quality SEL programs implemented in Illinois led to significant improvements in students’ social and emotional skills, in attitudes about self and others, and in classroom behavior. Programs were also associated with substantial decreases in conduct problems and emotional distress such as anxiety and depression—all of which are part of the bullying phenomenon.

5 THINGS PARENTS CAN DO

WHAT WORKS / WHAT DOESN’T

IN PREVENTING, AND RESPONDING TO, ASD BULLYING.

DOES WORK

  • School Climate Change
  • Safe ways to report (safety net programs)
  • Focus on all types of bullying (not just physical aggression)
  • Focus on role of bystanders
  • Peer support networks
  • Adults model supportive relationships
  • Active parent involvement

DOESN’T WORK

  • Individual counseling (for bully or victim)
  • Accepting bullying as normal
  • Focusing on only physical aggression
  • Zero tolerance policies
  • Isolated efforts (special auditorium events, lectures)
  • Stigmatizing victims
  • Adults model intimidation, anger, power

Source: What Works, What Doesn’t Work in Bullying Prevention Strategies. Michael B. Greene, Ph.D. Director, YCS Center for the Prevention of Violence.

A student portfolio is a great way to introduce your child to the team. Here’s some great guidelines for developing a portfolio that helps others see past the disability and promotes good relationships. http://www.texasprojectfirst.org/StudentIntroPort.html

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