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Autism Bullying- Protecting Autistic Children From Bullies

As a parent to a child on the autism spectrum, chances are that your child may have already experienced bullying in one form or another. Children  with ASD are especially vulnerable to bullying according to a report by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN)  It is believed that nearly two-thirds of children on the spectrum have fallen victim to bullies at school.

It has also been established that they are, in fact, nearly three times more likely to be bullied than their neurotypical peers. Children with Autism tend to have difficulty standing up for themselves something which will undoubtedly make them an easier target for bullies. They are also inherently easier to reduce to tears which make them the ideal victim for an ego-fueled bully. 

Autism Bullying- Protecting Autistic Children From Bullies

When you are a parent it is vitally important to not only know what signs to look out for but also how to best help your child deal with the trauma of being bullied.

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What signs should I look out for?

Recognizing the signs of bullying can be hard, especially for a child on the spectrum as he might have speech difficulties or doesn’t know exactly how to communicate his experiences. Being a parent you are, however, in the perfect position to spot some of the tell-tale (and more cryptic) signs that your child is being bullied. The most prevalent physical signs of bullying include unexplained scratches, cuts and bruises, torn clothes and damaged or missing belongings.

School is no longer fun when you are bullied

If your usual school-loving child no longer wants to get out of bed in the morning or starts to under perform, chances are he is being bullied. There are a number of emotional signs as well that include frequent nightmares, inexplicable crying, and enhanced mood swings. If you notice any of these signs chances are your child has become a victim of bullying, a matter that needs to be addressed right away.

How do I protect my child against bullies? 

The first thing you need to do if you suspect your child is being bullied is making an appointment to speak to your child’s teacher as well as the school principal. It is the responsibility of the school to provide a safe and secure environment for all learners and they will undoubtedly have anti-bullying policies in place. Instill as much self-confidence in your child as possible and make sure he knows that he can always talk to you, about anything.

Helping your child to heal

Bullying can have severe long-term effects on your child which can include severe behavioral issues and a very low self-esteem. At home, try to rebuild your child’s confidence by offering extra praise for jobs well done. Your child may feel deserving of the bullying due to his autism and it is up to you, his parent, to constantly reiterate just how special he is and remind him of everything he is capable of. Try to engage him in some relaxing, enjoyable activities that will help him de-stress. You can also consider a number of mindfulness activities such as yoga and breathing exercises that can go a long way in helping your child heal.


Protecting Autistic Children From Bullies

Nothing makes a parent feel more helpless than witnessing her child being tormented, whether it is physically or emotionally. As much as we try to prepare our children, and ourselves, for everything life might throw at them, it doesn’t make it any easier when harm does come their way. The best we can do is to continue to show our unconditional love and support and hope that the world will be kind to our very special children.

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Jane Eyres spent over a decade as a career advisor which included trying to help people on the autism spectrum, like her brother, find work. After becoming a mother, she took a step back to work as a freelance writer and spend more time with her growing family.

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