A new study finds that nearly half of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are victims of bullying.
A sample of 920 parents revealed that approximately 46 percent of teens with ASD were bullied, according to a report published online by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
In the latest study, Paul R. Sterzing, Ph.D., M.S.S.W., and colleagues used nationally representative surveys to identify the prevalence of bullying involvement. At present, there is little research on bullying of teens with ASD.
They discovered the prevalence of bullying involvement for adolescents with an ASD was “substantially higher” than the national prevalence of bullying among the general adolescent population (10.6 percent).
Victims of the bullying were more likely to be teens with ASD of non-Hispanic ethnicity. The teen victims were also more likely to display attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, possess lower social skills, and present some form of challenged conversational ability.
Perpetration was correlated with being white, having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and getting together with friends at least once a week.
As ASD teens often have communication challenges, reporting of bullying behavior is often inadequate.
These findings complement another recent study demonstrating that children and teens with chronic health problems, like asthma, also finds themselves bullied more often.
“Future interventions should incorporate content that addresses the core deficits of adolescents with an ASD, which limits their verbal ability to report bullying incidents,” the authors said. “Schools should incorporate strategies that address conversational difficulties and the unique challenges of those with comorbid conditions.”
Researchers say classrooms need to be designed to help improve the social integration of adolescents with an ASD.
Specifically, students need training to improve their knowledge of ASD, thereby enhancing the empathy and social skills of students toward their peers with an ASD and other developmental disabilities.