Why are Autistic people more likely to be bullied?

Unfortunately autistic people are often the target of bullying throughout their lives.  Obviously anybody can be bullied at any time, but there does seem to be something particular about people with autism that makes them an inviting target for bullies.  This article will look at a few possible reasons as to why this might be.  It doesn’t cover solutions, or seek to give excuses as to why people might bully, it just looks at why somebody seeking a victim might choose a person with autism.

  • People with autism may stand out from the crowd – this not only draws attention to them, but it leaves them vulnerable, and can also lead to people saying that their own behaviour brought on the bullying in the first place.
  • Due to problems socialising autistic people might not have as many friends as those around them – this means there will be less people to stand up for them if they are bullied. Coupled with their standing out from the crowd, this sets them up as somebody who is vulnerable and different.
  • People with autism may struggle with reading other people s body language, or their social cues – this can lead to them making mistakes in social situations, for which they might be ridiculed. But more importantly it makes it hard for them to read other people`s intentions.  This can mean that they might not even be able to tell if someone is bullying them, or what their intentions are in the long-run.
  • People with autism can often take things literally – this could mean that if somebody warns them not to talk to others about the bullying, and threatens them with what will happen if they do, they may genuinely believe every threat that is made – forcing them to remain silent. People who take things literally are much easier to manipulate, and therefore much easier targets for bullies.
  • Another way autistic people may be easier to manipulate than others is when it comes to their lack of ability to fit-in socially – if somebody is desperate to fit in they may agree to do things that they otherwise would not do, or find themselves believing people are their friends even when they aren’t.
  • Autistic people often give a more rewarding reaction when bullied – because people with autism can be provoked to meltdowns it is often much more entertaining for people to bully them, and get these reactions from them that it would be to bully someone who would simply ignore them. The main intention of bullying is to get a reaction from someone, so obviously the person who gives the best reaction is going to be the target.
  • People with autism can also struggle to initiate interactions and communicate with others – this means that it is harder for them to tell someone when they are being bullied. If they can`t communicate this to others then they are going to be an inviting target for bullies.

There could be all kinds of reasons why people are bullied, and not all autistic people will become victims of bullying.  But taking in to account the mind-set of the average bully, these seem like fairly plausible reasons why autistic people present good targets.  It is a pity that bullying is so prevalent among autistic people, but perhaps – while not suggesting in any way that it is the autistic persons fault – these points might help to give some idea of why it does happen so often.

To read about this issue in more detail take a look at my blog https://askpergers.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/why-autistic-people-are-more-likely-to-be-bullied/

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Videos of Children and Teens with Autism Being Bullied

 

Related Resources:

autism spectrum disorders: prevalence …

Bullying involvement and autism spectrum disorders: prevalence and correlates of bullying involvement among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder.

 School Bullies Prey on Children With Autism – NYTimes.com

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 Bullying and Autism: Helping Kids Cope With Getting Excluded …

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