Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers Children Who Are Bullied At School


I have an 11 year old boy diagnosed with Aspergers. He just started middle school and we're having a very difficult time. Academically he is starting to settle in and is in advanced classes with a B average. However, he is having behavior issues particularly in settings like lunch time, PE, etc. He is being bullied but nothing is being done. The school says they don't see any bullying.

Last week the PE teacher left the class to "free play" allowing my son to use metal pole to hit a tennis ball. A large boy (150lbs, my son weighs 60) hit my son in the face with a dodge ball knocking his glasses off (this same child has continuously teased and taunted by son all year), my son ran after him (of course rod still in hand) and there the story gets murky depending on who you talk to - the teacher was still no where around. My son had a skinned up elbow and bruising, apparently so did the other child - not confirmed. The teacher admitted he saw my child with the pole but didn't intervene. Now the school is trying to kick my son out. We have an IEP that might help but this is charter school (still state funded).

Anyone with any suggestions?


A number of moms & dads have discovered that their Aspergers (high functioning autistic) kids are being bullied, and that a lot of the time this is leading to different types of "exclusion" for their youngster. So as well as the trauma and upset of being bullied - the chances are that the Aspergers youngster is facing sanctions at the school as well.

Bullying is an awful problem with any youngster, but the needs of a youngster on the autistic spectrum make this even worse. The lack of understanding of social cues, difficulties in communicating the problems to others, interests and hobbies that often seem a little "goofy" and make the youngster an easy "target" - to name but a few. So it is so important that this issue is taken seriously by the government and then hopefully some kind of agenda for change will filter down to teachers, classroom assistants, domestic staff and everyone else in the schools.

As we all know, the multi-sensory and often very hectic nature of schools can be difficult enough for kids with Aspergers - so they can really do without having to contend with the extra "attention" of playground bullies.

Obviously, as parents, it is important to ensure that your youngster has some kind of feedback loop to a trusted person so that any signs of bullying can be picked up. Whether this is verbal, through some kind of symbol or PECS board, or more creative like "puppet talk" for youngsters, it needs to be crystal clear for the youngster what is and what isn't acceptable - and then what they should do about it. This is easier for things like physical bullying - as the more subtle types of verbal bullying can be more difficult to explain. But generally your youngster's behaviors will be a key to something being not right, and then you have the [often difficult ] task of working out what is happening from there.

If you do have the ear of your youngster's teacher, it is worth raising this issue with them and finding out what mechanisms they have in place for your youngster to communicate if they are being bullied. There is a useful "bullying worksheet" [see below] that you can use to look at the issues around bullying with your Aspergers youngster.

Bullying is sadly something that all moms & dads with an Aspergers child need to think about. This involves looking at different ways in which you can monitor him/her to check if something is going on so that you can take action.


Here is a list of some of the ways other kids might act around you. Read each act. Is the child being a friend or not? Or are you just not sure? Remember, a friend would be kind to you. If the other child is being mean to you, they are not being a friend, no matter what they say.

A kid in your class at school:

• Asks to sit next to you at lunch, but then hides your lunch when your back is turned and won’t give it back when you tell him the joke is over.

• Asks you to take your clothes off so he can see you naked and says “if you were a real friend, you’d be willing to do what I ask. It’s no big deal.”

• Let’s you be part of his circle of friends as long as you do his homework for him every day, even when you’re tired, because “you’re so much better at it than I am,” while he sits around chatting with his friends.

• Says “hey, let’s be friends,” and begins to play with you, but every time his buddies come around, he acts like he doesn’t know you and says things to make the other kids laugh at you.

• Says “that’s my seat” at lunch and tells you to get out of it, when no one has assigned seats at lunch.

• Says “that’s my seat” in class when the teacher assigned everyone seats, and you have sat in his seat by mistake.

• Says he’ll be your friend for a dollar.

• Says he’s thirsty and asks you to buy him a soda from the store. When you buy it, he says “thanks, you’re a real friend. Tomorrow I’ll buy the sodas.” And tomorrow he buys you one.

• Says he’s thirsty and asks you to steal a soda for him from the store to help him out. When you steal it, he says “thanks, you’re a real friend.” He keeps hanging out with you, but asks you to steal things here and there, from time to time, for him.

• Says he’s your friend, plays with you, and then asks to borrow a dollar, promising to pay it back tomorrow (and he does pay it back).

• Says you can only be in my club if you pick up all these sticks alone while the rest of us watch you. When you do it, he and the other club members sit around telling you what to do and laugh at you. They said the sticks were for a fort, but no fort is ever built.

• Says you can only be in my club if you pick up all these sticks with me, so we can build a fort together. He then joins you picking up the sticks, and builds a fort with you.

• Says you can’t be in the club because it’s for teenagers and you’re only 9.

• Says you can’t be in the club because your name is Michael.

NOTE: If the other kid does any of these things listed above - he is NOT being a friend. He or she will have to earn your trust back before you should trust him/her again.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


•    Anonymous said… Been there.... Done that.... As a parent of as child on the spectrum and a special education worker I totally get this. Lunch and PE are non structured times and two of the hardest times for even typical kids. If you feel the school isn't listening to your concerns I recommend getting an advocate. You can even find them for free. Watch the schools tune change.
•    Anonymous said… I moved my son to a school that listens to children. Made an incredible amount of difference.
•    Anonymous said… I'd be inclined to switch schools
•    Anonymous said… I'd go and observe for yourself. Volunteer in the lunch line or recycling duty..or whatever gets you a glimpse into his day. Then go to principal w concerns. Hopefully the district has a peer buddies program in place or something similar.
•    Anonymous said… Is there a possibility of going to a computer room or supervised play area for that time. My son does this as well as the library and he no longer gets bullied.
•    Anonymous said… It's really a bigger effort for autistic/aspergers children that needs to be addressed with the teaching universities. I took E C-4(which is up to 4th) and had to stop before I could start my internships due to my now 10 year old aspergers daughter's b...See More
•    Anonymous said… Problem still doesn't go a big change which can be stressful in itself.
•    Anonymous said… Same here in UK. But my son's new school go above and beyond and train staff in all different areas to learn more about additional needs, so moving for him was a great idea.
•    Anonymous said… Unless ur a special ed teacher. Of course all districts are different. Some are great. Just hard to find them.

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Anonymous said...

Document each and every incident and report in writing to the principal. Also report to his caseworker (I am assuming your son has either a IEP or 504) By starting a paper trail on the bullying the school will have to begin to take the incident seriously. Also have your son report the incidents to a teacher. Unfortunately by the time kids begin MS they want them to take care of the more "minor" issues themselfs. This may work for neurotypicals but not for our kids. I found it took some "cage rattleing" on my part to get the MS folks to understand my child and her needs and to get the necessary services in place for social skill support.

Anonymous said...

Go to the highest person on the totem pole, aka the Principal. If that doesn't work, go higher. Do not stop until it gets handled. Perception is reality for all of us, more so for our kids!In the meantime, if you are not already doing so, empower him with words, actions and phrases to use, depending on what is happening. At this stage, it seems like the other boys "test" one another to see how far they can go with the other child. Your son may be able to look the other kid(s) in the eyes (or in between-it appears the same way) and tell the bully to back off!! Also, I am assuming your son has an IEP..if so, something should be in there that he has a "safe" person, on campus, to go to at this time. If he does not have an IEP, then it's time to get one. Keep us posted! You are not alone in this!!

Anonymous said...

Some important things to remember about your Asperger's child and social interaction. First, your child is different, they behave different, speak differently and focus on things differently then the other students around them. This makes them a target for teasing. Second, there is a difference between bullying and teasing. Every kid gets picked on at school at least once. Our children are far more likely to be picked on. The school can not stop the other children from picking on your child. An important responsibility for us as parents is to properly equipt our child with the tools needed to handle these situations. I have found with my 12 year old daughter that the one thing she has benefitted from the most is social skills counseling. Unfortunately, an Aspie must learn to adapt to the world. Not the other way around. Make sure the school staff is aware of the child's disorder and how it affects them socially. Make sure they have access to the school counselor and social worker to discuss how they feel about being picked on and to get them a place to go to manage their reactions. When the other children get that instant reaction from your child it only further fuels them to continue tormenting them. You can't control this but yu can arm your child with the tools to cope with this and social skills training can help them develop techniques to keep there own impulses in check. They will need these skills for the rest of their lives so it is best to invest in gettng them now. Lastly, accept the fact that other children and many adults will not understand your child. Even if you can explain it well, they will not truly get it or relate. It's the same for your child. They can not connect with the aggressor. They do not understand why picking on someone would be gratifying. You need to explain that they are different and its ok and they need to learn the same tolerance. Don't handicap your Aspie by protecting them too much. I find that my daughter is one of the most logical, intelligent and well adjusted person I know. Don't lay blame on the children or the school. Take action.

Anonymous said...

That's what I was going to ask too. If he does, his IEP needs to come & secretly watch what is happening during lunch & PE. They can report the bullying.

Anonymous said...

Does your son have an aide with him during the day? Those times of day are hard for aspies to start with due to the chaos and unstructured nature of the area. Does he dress out in the locker room with the other kids for gym? My son is not allowed into the locker room, rather he dresses out in a restroom next to the gym with the aide standing outside preventing others from entering while he is changing. Lunchtime is a very difficult time for our kids. There is so much noise and movement in the room that everything seems amplified to them. I agree that documenting each incident your child reports to you is a good idea. I know that with my son, though, some of the things he reports to me simply don't happen the way he interprets them. Due to his social issues, he doesn't always understand how others act. Is there anyone at the school that interacts with your son that you trust? Talk to them about your concerns and see if there is anyway to have some keep a closer eye on the children that your son says is bullying him.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop fighting this! Don't let them bully you away from protecting your son. Even bullying that seems "minor" can have dire consequences. The posts all above have great guidelines. If you do not have help on your side, enlist it quickly. Go to the top of the command chain quickly, too. Best of luck, this is one of the worst things.

Anonymous said...

Wow sounds familiar. So sorry to hear about what is happening. If the principal isn't doing anything go to the Super Attendant. My son's school told me that they think he was targeting kids to get them in trouble by saying he was being bullied because they didn't see it and that they believed that he could also be misinterpreting things. LOVE IT! My son could care less about getting someone in trouble. He keeps to himself or trys really hard to blend in and is afraid to speak up because he doesn't want to tattle and get the kids in trouble. Public school have no clue. I wish you the best as well as your son. Don't give up. An aide as suggested could be beneficially for him.

Anonymous said...

i did a blog about that exactly. hope it helps!
Autism Daily: Stopping Your ASD Child From Being Bullied at School

Anonymous said...

ive had the same problem for years the best course of action is get a civil lawyer and serve papers on the school.

Anonymous said...

We are having the same problem in 5th grade with my son. Had an IEP meeting yesterday. They did their eval & say that they don't see Aspergers in the school setting. Yet all the forms filled out by the teachers mention concerns of space issues, fidgiting, noise making, anger problems, ect. Tell me that's not Aspergers!! They denied him services. Trying to figure out what to do now. I will not sit back & let it be, he needs to be able to access all the resources he can. He needs help making friends & fitting in. According to Article 7 they only have to be affected "functionally"-not organized, forgetting things, anger issues, no friends, ect.

Anonymous said...

Look into a 504 plan. My 13 year old son's deals a lot with the forced social interactions at school and especially unstructured times like lunch, gym, etc. His teachers are required to let him move as needed and/or they are allowed to move him. We are lucky because our county schools are required to take training on Asperger's every year so they know what to look for and how to help. But really you need a 504 behavioral plan. It protects your son, yourself and forces the school to pay attention. Good luck!

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