In an essay titled “Eyes Wide Open”, Julie van der Poel writes about her son’s account with bullies and violence. Many other parents of children with autism, or who are on the autism spectrum have responded to her essay with their own stories of their children being bullied.
Parents write that although you prepare your child for all likely situations, it is impossible to anticipate everything. Another reader wrote in response to this essay that her autistic son was beaten so often in a public school that they had to finally relocate.
In preliminary findings by social scientists, they have found that people with ASD are more likely to be bullied than their ordinary peers. Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism network states “Bullying is extremely common in the lives of children with ASD, and occurs at a much higher rate for them than it does for their typically developing siblings.. Cruelest of all is the fact that bullying may further impair the ability of a child with ASD, who is already socially disabled, to engage with the social world.”
Julie van der Poel continues to write about her son’s progress through the educational system and all efforts to prepare him for adulthood.
The website Autism After 16 (www.autismafter16.com) offers information on adult autism issues written by autistic adults with first hand experience. It also provides information and resources to help teach independent living skills.
What can we do to help?
Awareness is essential for all parties involved. Adults, children, family and peers. According to Autism Digest, bullying was a silent epidemic that affected millions of children yearly. They have developed keys for success in bully prevention.
Recognizing how prevalent bullying is in our schools and all the signs that your child is the victim of bullying. Bullying is not necessarily only direct contact or physical assault, but can also include teasing, insults and rumors.
Parents and school professionals mus understand that there is not a single profile of a typical bully. Responding to bullies is part of a comprehensive anti bullying program, as well as, parents and school professionals responding to the victims.
All school professionals and parents must report any act of bullying in order to prevent it from happening again in the future.