by ADN

July 15, 2014

BullyingEditor’s Note: One of the mini themes in this month’s ASDigest is the subject of bullying. This week we take a look at various issues around bullying and autism.

Bullying is not an ordinary situation and it’s not a rite of passage as some people like to think it is. – for those on or not on the autism spectrum. Children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)are not only particularly vulnerable to bullying, many of the “signs” may be behaviours that are already exhibited to a lesser extent by those with ASD.

Bullying is detrimental to the victim and can cause years of dealing with the emotional aspect of the incidents. As a parent, you might think that your child would be open with you if he or she were to be bullied.  But because of the shame and embarrassment associated with bullying, kids often won’t tell anyone no matter how close they are with their parents.

There are some noticeable symptoms that can signify your child is being bullied when he or she is neurotypical. Parents of children and teens with autism may need to “dig a little deeper”:

  • You might notice cuts or scrapes, bruises, a black eye or other injuries that he can’t or won’t explain where they come from. He may ask you to replace items such as jackets or book bags.
  • He may have repeated claims that he’s lost his cellphone, iPod or other electronics. He may suddenly appear to be a loner when in the past he had a group of friends he hung out with. He may complain of insomnia or not wanting to eat.
  • You may see that his ability to perform at school as declined drastically. Usually kids who are being bullied will stop caring about their schoolwork or grades. They’ll have headaches or stomachaches and will often do anything to get out of going to school.
  • They may feel down, bad about themselves or experience depression. Evidence of self-harm may also be present. Kids find it difficult to deal with the emotional pain of being bullied so they’ll often resort to things such as cutting.

Sometimes kids tell in very subtle ways. If you notice a change in the way your child describes himself, this could be a clue.

Talk directly to your child. Let him or her know that you’re there for him. Gently ask if there’s any bullying going on – but don’t be surprised if it’s denied at first. Kids don’t like to admit that they’re bullied because it embarrasses them.

They may also fear that telling you will make things worse if you contact the school about it. They may be afraid of what everyone will think of them or that their fears will be dismissed as “no big deal” by those in authority positions.

If the bullying is done through the use of social media, the victim may not want to tell you because he’s afraid you’ll take him offline. If you suspect your child is being bullied, don’t wait because your child needs and has the right for the bullying to stop.

Editor’s note:  For simplicity, we are using a male gender in the article but girls as just as easily to be victims of bullying as boys.
If you have a child who has been bullied and it has lasted for awhile, it’s important to have him speak to a counselor who can help him sort through his emotions. If you have a child who has bullied others, it’s important that he’s also counseled in order to learn better coping skills and proper social interaction.

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