Bullying has long been a serious issue for children around the world. Bullying can and does occur in every group and environment. However, according to research just published on Monday, September third in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, bullying is more likely to occur to children with an autism spectrum disorder such as Asperger’s syndrome than their typically developing peers. In fact, these children are up to three times more likely to be victims of bullies than other children. This is especially true for high functioning children with autism because they are more likely to be placed into inclusive classrooms rather than into special education classes, as would be the case with low functioning children. In these classrooms, the particular behaviors that are associated with autism have a tendency to make the children stick out from the other children. As anyone that has ever been bullied will tell you, a bully will pick up on anything that separates one child from another. The features of autism clearly meet this criteria. While these children may be high functioning, they often have a difficult time picking up on social cues and understanding concepts such as sarcasm and therefore may not always know that they are being picked on.
Although, it does seem intuitively obvious that children with disabilities such as autism would be more likely to be victimized by bullies than other groups, it is still very alarming to read these facts. The global occurrence of bullying clearly indicates that it is not a cultural phenomenon restricted to a certain group. Sadly, as the article points out, this type of victimization usually occurs to those that are least likely to be able to emotionally handle the affects of the teasing and taunting that typically occurs in these situations.