Teen Autism and BullyingIn the general population, about 11% of children are bullied. Being bullied is linked to higher levels of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and decreased academic performance. Unfortunately, a survey of parents suggests that nearly half of all teenagers with an autism spectrum disorder are harassed at school. This means that children with an autism spectrum disorder have an extra slew of obstacles to overcome in addition to their unique challenges.

The researchers who conducted the survey believe that anti-bullying campaigns should be targeted towards more vulnerable populations, including artistic children and children with ADHD, in order to improve their effectiveness. Researchers also pointed out that the problem will likely only continue to grow as the number of kids being diagnosed with autism goes up every year. Currently, it’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that one in 88 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder.

According to the researchers, 46% of parents with autistic teenagers reported that there are children were victims of bullying. The study also found that of the same parents, 15% thought their children were themselves bullies. Another 9% believed that their children were both bullies and victims of bullying. Researchers noted that while the proportion of bullies and bully/victims was on par with the general population, the rate of children who were bullied was much higher.

The lead author of the study also pointed out that children with autistic spectrum disorder who attended regular classes were especially likely to be victims of bullying, noting that this does not indicate that autistic children should be separated from their peers, but rather that more needs to be done to stop and prevent bullying in the classroom.

Identifying the Signs of Bullying

Bullying is just one of many teen-years problems that parents of autistic children should be aware of and watch out for. While bullying is a common occurrence, it is not an acceptable one. On the other hand, there are certain teenage behaviors that parents of autistic children should recognize as prevalent among all teenagers. Psychology Today has published a list of 13 things parents of autistic teenagers should know. The list includes such pearls of wisdom as: Moodiness is common amongst all teenagers, as is poor organizational skills. The article also notes that self-esteem isn’t something that teenagers learn themselves.  For this reason, experts advise parents to remain active in their teens’ lives and serve as sources of support and encouragement.