HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

How to Intervene When Your Child is Being Bullied at School

"My son (age 9) with high functioning autism tells me that he has been bullied by one of his classmates since the start of the school year. My son said he didn't mentioned it earlier because he didn't realize until recently that this other student was actually doing something "wrong" (go figure). How do you address bullying when the school seems to be indifferent about it – and has even blamed my son for initiating some of the conflict? If they don’t actually see the bullying taking place, they seem to assume that it’s not going on and that my son is simply exaggerating the problem."

According to research, 94% of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are bullied. Bullying usually begins when the HFA or AS student is harassed by another student (or a group of students), but is unable to resist and lacks the support of others. It usually continues if the student doing the bullying has little or no sympathy for the peer they are hurting – and especially if the bully is getting some pleasure out of what he is doing.

The mental torment that HFA and AS victims feel is indisputable. However, since many of us have experienced some kind of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, bullying is still written off as a “soft” type of abuse that leaves no apparent injuries. However, the current research into the effects of bullying indicates something more than “hurt feelings.”

Bullying often leaves an indelible imprint on a child’s brain at a time when it's still developing. These neurological scars bear much resemblance to those carried by kids who are physically and sexually mistreated in early childhood. Neuro-scientists now know that the human brain continues to develop and change long after the initial few years of life. Bullying is not simply an unfortunate rite of passage, rather it is a severe form of childhood trauma that triggers psychological damage.

HFA and AS students are easy targets for a variety of reasons:
  • They have difficulty with multi-tasking and interpreting other’s intentions
  • They seem “out of step” with the other kids
  • Due of built-up frustration, they may over-react to most provocations, thus the bully knows he can always push the HFA or AS student’s buttons at will
  • Due to having a low social IQ, they let things build up, and then retaliate without an awareness of what the consequences will be
  • They have difficulty telling the difference between good natured teasing versus someone being mean
  • They may be oblivious to an act of bullying or teasing behavior
  • They have motor difficulties, so participating in athletics is difficult (even games at recess may be a challenge)
  • They process information at a different pace than expected, as a result, they may appear “space-out” or “disconnected” 
  • Their special interests may be boring to others, so it’s hard for them to find other students with similar interests
  • Low-frustration tolerance can lead to a meltdown (and a child who has a meltdown in school is often looked at as a “freak”)
  • They appear different than their peers

Most schools are cracking down on bullying and are treating such behavior as assault and punishable by legal means. As the parent, you have every right to speak with the principal, teacher or counselor in order to ask their help in controlling the problem. Some schools have behavioral support staff whose job is to get to the bottom of behavior issues and crack down on bullies.

Here are some ways that you can intervene - as well as advocate - for your HFA son:

1. Your son may find it difficult to explain what is wrong. Talking it over with his teacher may lead to a better understanding of what is really happening. The more you can do to intervene with the help of school staff, and the more you can teach your son methods for self-preservation that don’t include fighting back, the more likely this unfortunate situation will be put to rest. Your son may be reluctant to have you intervene, because he may fear the social stigma of having his “mommy” fight his battles. However, it is up to you to intervene on his behalf with school administrators to ensure his physical and emotional well-being.

2. Don't talk to the parents of the alleged bully. They may become defensive when their child is accused of bullying, and the conversation may not be a productive one. Let the school administrators manage the communication with the bully’s parents.

3. Explore with your son what leads up to the bullying. It’s possible that, on occasion, he does provoke the bully by annoying or irritating him, in which case, your son can learn not to do so.

4. Find out how bullying is addressed in the school's curriculum and how staff members are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying.

5. If possible, your son should try to stick with a trusted classmate during the school day. If he walks home from school, maybe he can find someone to walk with him. Sometimes, just having another friend around reduces the incidence of bullying. If your son has problems making friends on his own, try to facilitate a friendship with a mature, understanding child who can both be a friend to your son and can help out if bullies try to tease or hurt him. Facilitating friendships may mean inviting another child over for a meal or for some games or television, or it may mean taking both of them to a movie or on a shopping trip.

6. Remember that it can take time for teachers and administrators to investigate bullying in a fair and factual way. Most schools want to get the problems resolved as quickly as possible. So, patience is key here. Also, write down the details of reported incidence of bullying (e.g., the date, who was involved, what specifically happened, etc.). Record the facts as objectively as possible. Show this data to your son’s teacher(s) to help them make an informed decision regarding how to best address the issue.

7. Maintain open communication with your son. Talk to him every day about details small and large. How did his classes go? What does he have for homework that night? Who did he sit with at lunch? Who did he play with at recess? Listen carefully and be responsive to show interest.

8. Role-playing can help your son identify bullying. If he has a brother or sister, he or she may be able to help shed some light on bullying (kids have a closer connection to today’s playground politics than grown-ups).

9. Scenes from television, movies and video games provide plenty of opportunities to talk about bullying. You and your son can discuss how the bullied character handled the situation, and whether he or she handled it appropriately or not. The two of you can share what you would do in a similar situation.

10. Discuss with your son what places it might be best to avoid, and on occasion, whom to stay close to in threatening situations.

11. Suggest to your son things to do when he is picked on. Sometimes by acting “as if” you are not afraid – or by not over-reacting – the bullying can be stopped. It’s better if your son, with a bit of good advice, can do something to help himself.

12. Take complaints seriously, whether they be stories of physical, verbal or psychological bullying. If your son is just now telling you about problems he has had at school, you can bet that there is plenty that he hasn't told you yet.

13. Teach your son to manage negative emotions by setting an example with your own behavior. Reflect on how you respond to strong feelings of anger, fear or sadness — being careful to identify and accept your emotions, express them without blaming other people, and respond without hostility.

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

15. Teach your son to walk tall, make eye contact, and speak assertively to the bully. Just saying "stop" and walking away from the bully may be enough.

16. Lastly, if all else fails, you may want to consider taking legal action. For more information on this topic, click here ==> Bullying: How Parents Can Take Legal Action To Get It Stopped

Research reveals that kids who have been bullied report more signs of depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues compared to kids who have not. In fact, psychological abuse from same-age peers is as harmful to mental health as psychological abuse from parents. Most HFA and AS children who are bullied (a) have low self-esteem (which may continue for many years), (b) often complain of headaches, concentration difficulties, stomach aches, etc., and (c) are frequently distracted from schoolwork, resulting in poor academic performance.

If the bullying is severe and prolonged, and the targeted child is unable to overcome the problem or get help, he may (a) seek revenge, and in extreme cases, use a weapon to get even, (b) refuse to go to school, (c) become isolated, and (d) distrust others and find it impossible to make friends.

There are a few crucial things that need to happen in order to fully resolve the bullying problem in schools: The HFA or AS youngster needs to learn how to identify bullying or teasing behavior. Schools that have instituted bullying prevention programs that are working should be visited and copied. School officials need to learn more about autism spectrum disorders and how it affects “special needs” students in the classroom. And a network of like-minded professionals and community members to join in a partnership should be developed.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management: Help for Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

No comments:

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

Single Parent Discount On Our Ebooks

We've bundled four of our information products for one low price -- with struggling single moms and dads in mind. We know from first-hand experience that many single parents are struggling financially -- especially when they are raising a child with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism.

Click here for your single parent discount ==> Parenting Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content