Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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How to deal with bullying of the Aspergers child...

"My child with Aspergers just revealed to me that he has been bullied by one particular peer since the start of the school year. I guess my son didn't mentioned it before because he didn't realize until recently that this other student was actually doing something "wrong" and hurtful (go figure). Is it too late to address this issue now that there are only a few weeks of school left? What should I do?"

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism often exhibit behaviors that are peculiar enough to hold the attention of children who do not have the best interests of the child in mind. Besides simple teasing, bullying of Aspergers children can happen in situations in which they have little ability to protect themselves.

Fortunately, if such bullying happens in school, it can be managed more easily (provided your child divulges that it is going on). Most schools are cracking down on bullying and are treating such behavior as assault and punishable by legal means. Parents have every right to speak with the principal, teacher or counselor in order to ask their help in controlling the bullies. Some schools have behavioral support staff whose job is to get to the bottom of behavior issues and crack down on bullies.

Teach your child to walk away from bullies, preferably before they get started. Help him/her learn to recognize those situations that may lead to bullying (e.g., after school, on the playground, during lunch, etc.), and teach him/her to be more vigilant and stay near adults in such circumstances.

Sometimes, just having another friend around may reduce the incidence of bullying. If your child has problems making friends on his/her own, facilitate friendships with mature, understanding children who can both be a friend to your child and can help out if bullies try to tease or hurt your child. Facilitating friendships may mean inviting a child over for a meal or for some games or television. It may mean taking the two kids to a movie or on a shopping trip.

Bullies are a fact of life for many (if not most) children with Aspergers. The more a parent can do to intervene with the help of other adults (and other children), and the more a parent can teach the Aspergers child mechanisms for self-preservation that don’t include fighting back, the better able the youngster can be in dealing with this difficult situation.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook 


•    Anonymous said... A lot of times the "bullies" are just regular kids that are reacting in the usual ways to the ASD reactions to being overstimulated & overcrowded. For example - Z tends to touch/bother the kid in front of her when in line, so the teacher always moves her to the front. The other kids think that's not fair, so at lunch and recess they make a point not to allow Z to play with them, and they say hurtful things to Z.  Z repeats over and over that she likes cats, and says peanut butter at the most random/inappropriate times. This makes other children uncomfortable around her. The class clown makes the other kids laugh by making snide comments about Z. Laughter helps make them feel more comfortable, even if it comes at the expense of the one they laugh at. In a wholly NT society, the group shunning of such behavior would make the child doing it stop and think about how doing things differently and being called "teacher's pet" is a bad way and they would most likely stop and conform to the norm. But for an ASD child this is extremely difficult to grasp, and not only that, it is completely wrong to expect an ASD child to "act normal". Teachers can try to combat this by educating the children about the child's condition, but it is hard for them to understand (and teachers themselves barely understand half the time) and it is tiring, takes up a ton of time, and they get extremely frustrated with Z because she is a distraction more often than not. It's not Z's fault she's a distraction, she is simply reacting to the pressure of being in a classroom with florescent lights, 20+ children all talking/moving at once, and the torture of having to sit still in one place for too long. The way the school handled our situation was to put her in a smaller class with other kids with behavioral issues, i.e., the Alternative School. The social stigma surrounding going to the Alternative School means that neighborhood kids who used to play with Z now will not, because their mommies and daddies say that only bad kids go to the Alternative School. So the shunning goes on and on and on. At least at the Alternative School, there are fewer kids in the classroom (7 children instead of 20+). She gets more one on one time with the teacher and has a chance to actually learn.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely NOT too late. A lot of times Aspies dont realize it is bullying because they are so used to not fitting in..
•    Anonymous said... I fear this happens more than we know.
•    Anonymous said... It took two years before I realised how bad the bullying was at my daughter's first school. Not until she was suicidal at 9 years old. the school denied the problem, telling me she was making it up. So much bullying goes under a teacher's notice. I now home school, after three schools and a constant attack on her self-worth and the stress of coping with crowds and noise and lack of proper support. For the first time she is now making friends and keeping them, feeling safe around teens now she is not having to deal with them full time.
•    Anonymous said... It's never too late
•    Anonymous said... it's never too late to mention this to the teachers... and help the other child realize he is wrong with his behavior too!
•    Anonymous said... my daughter has had probelms at school with one girl who also has her own probelms as she is in care this girl is alot older and has so far laughed at my child who has aspergers , locked her in a room , pulled a chair from under her so she hurt herself , my child has always forgiven her as she wants to be friends and be part of the group , last week though this girl bent her hands back and really hurt her , she has been excluded now and as she leaves school this year , the school only allowing the girl in when her personal tutor in , and only half days, since she been gone my daughter has really been happy , and is fitting in with the other kids in her small inclusion group , and all her tics have gone as shes not got the anxiety from the last few months with this girl, i would confront the teacher and talk it though good luck x
•    Anonymous said... Never too late. My eldest has just been on a camp and my husband went as well and a few of girls from my son's class mentioned that there are a couple of kids giving my youngest a hard time. He has not told us nor has he reacted. Told his teacher when I took him to school Thursday as my son told me 1 child which was no surprise and by that afternoon it had been dealt with and his teacher is going to ask the girls who else is doing it so they can be dealt with. I am very lucky at the school we are at as there are a lot of kids, mainly girls who watch out and report bullying of my 2 boys when they see it, and school do something without having to catch the bullies in the act. Our last school we had issues for 2 years and always got the excuse we have to catch them at it, it was verbal so very hard to catch, we took our kids out of that school.
•    Anonymous said... That is very true! Or they get so used to being bullied that they assume everyone is doing it and they give up!
•    Anonymous said... This sounds so familiar and terrible. I don't understand how children can be so cruel, but mostly I don't understand how schools that say that understand and want to help don't really do anything proactive. And the understanding they give lasts for one incident only. My boy is in yr 8 and has been strangled, beaten up and held down by 3 boys, dragged along the ground. And so many other little tormenting things in he class room. He's been suspended 4 times since starting high school because there view is if my boy were able to take no for an answer and not try to interact with others they wouldn't resort to hurting him to get their point across. So in part they feel he's responsible for the kids hurting him so he gets suspended. Go figure!!!!

More comments below…


Anonymous said...

As an adult on the spectrum, I will say the only thing that ever worked was fighting back, physically if necessary. Teachers normally did not intervene when they witnessed bullying. Parent and teacher intervention was not effective, and the teachers didn't really care. Teachers generally did not take insults, kicking, or another stuedent threatening to stab me with a pocket knife seriously. Their responses: "Just ignore them" and (if I was merely being called a "psycho retard nerd" or being told to go to a mental institution) talking about sticks and stones. When I was 9, I did stupid things because I thought my classmates had a right to order me to. When I was 11, bullies made my life a living hell. By the time I was 13, I knew to hit back and the turds found other kids to pick on. I later unlearned this behavior in high school(no longer necessary), and about half the kids who picked on me went on to(found this out by searching public records online) have criminal records. My boyfriend(also on the spectrum) had a similar experience, except that he started fighting back a couple years later and his school life became tolerable a couple years later. If the school is truly interested in intervening that's one thing, but more often they gave it lip service and then turn a blind eye. And the kids know it.

Anonymous said...

Do not let the bully get away with it, even though there are only a few weeks of school left. That's a few more weeks your child is bullied and a few more weeks the bully gets away with it. And there is always next year, where the bullier may do it again and possibly do it to other children. At my sons school, they do not tolerate bullying and are trying to put a stop to it. Also, the times my son has fought back, he was in just as much trouble as the bullyier for hitting another student. I don't agree with this policy, but it's the school's policy just the same. We have taught my son to tell a trusted adult at school or us. And sometimes "mama bear came out to play" to get something done, but we did get good results.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is too late at all to address it, bullying is wrong I hope your son is ok

Anonymous said...

It's never "too late" to defend your child. Just use appropriate words when addressing the issue with teachers and principals. Be sure they are aware of how long this has been happening, and they should have noticed this behavior LONG before it got to this point! Who will speak up for our Aspies if our childrens teachers don't? They are the ones that spend 80% of the day with our children! My best to you!

Anonymous said...

one of many reasons I keep my son in karate...not to mention the focus, respect, and other skills that he learns there

Anonymous said...

I agree- it is never to late. You are your son's only advocate, and unfortunately if it is not taken care of now, it may go on to next year. Especially if your son is in mainstream- and the teachers do not know how or are properly educated in dealing with these kinds of situations. However if it is in his Special Needs class- then this is a serious and dangerous issue. Poor guy. Definitely also address this in your IEP, and get the behavioral counselor involved, Vice Principal, etc.. it is NOT Ok to bully anyone- but you can also get him his social skills to TELL you this sooner- Can anyone tell I have been through this? =) My best to you and your son!!

Anonymous said...

Bullying in kindergarten?! Unacceptable!! you and your child are in my thoughts... I deal with bullying of my 5th grader, he always says he won't tell an adult b/c he doesn't want to get anyone into trouble...

Anonymous said...

Our son has had a problem with one of his classmates really since first grade (he's now in third). He's really had a hard time at school over it because he's such a big kid and the kid bullying him is nearly half his size. It's taken all year battling the school over it, but they've told us they won't put them in the same class together next year. Hopefully they follow through on that. However I don't know why the concept that a smaller kid can bully a bigger kid is so hard to get. Especially when they know our son has aspergers.

Anonymous said...

it's never to late to address it. bullying is wrong and schools are going to start being held accountable for it more and more across the nation so bring it to their attention. If they don't stop it from happening "because the year is almost over" then they are not doing their job to protect your child.
17 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

It is never too late to address bullying.THe other child should be told about his behaviour & why it isn't appropriate. I would meet with teachers/staff to explain why my son has trouble differentiating between friends & bullies/identifying bully behaviour, and how they can help him to manage and respond appropriately. I would look into getting a one-on-one aid or therapist to attend school with him and help him navigate the relationships.

Shaleta Richardson-Davis said...

I came up here looking for answers to helping my 6 year old kindergartener with Aspergers.He is so tender hearted and wants people to like him and understand him. What breaks my heart, is the fact that the little boy that he calls his best friend is the one who is bullying him. For some reason, he looks up to this little boy. He comes home atleast twice a week saying that K called him an idiot, said he hates me, and is not my friend.....he also karate chops him in the head. It makes me so angry, I want to tell him to hit him back, but it goes against the morals I have taught him. I tell him how important he is and how he does not deserve to be treated this way and that when K acts this way tell the teacher and stay away from him. What is worse is that he blames himself for k's treatment of him because he knows he is different. I pray that he will learn what I am teaching him about loving himself and not taking on the responsibility for others negative and abusive behavior towards him. He is socially awkard and random and sometimes he has a hard time respecting personal space, but he just wants to be accepted and loved.

mrpinbert said...

I am an adult with Aspergers and I just want to weight in my opinion for you to consider.

Obviously I am just a person on the internet, and each person with Aspergers is different. So take it with a grain of salt, I am only talking from personal experience.

You totally SHOULD teach your kid to fight and stand up for himself.

"I want to tell him to hit him back, but it goes against the morals I have taught him"
I hate to tell you this, and this is just my opinion of course, but you're basically teaching him that he should be treated like a floormat.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content