The Bullying of Aspergers Children

A sad fact: The majority of children with Aspergers will experience repeated bullying and/or victimization at school. 

Aspergers students are easy targets for a variety of reasons:
  • Due to having a low social IQ, they let things build up …then retaliate without an awareness of what the consequences might be
  • They appear different than their “typical” peers
  • They are not always aware of teasing or bullying behavior
  • “Intimidation” is not in their vocabulary
  • The need to dominate or control others is not part of their personality

Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. They struggle in school (when they decide to show up at all). They're more likely to carry weapons, get in physical fights, and abuse drugs. But when it comes to the actual damage bullying does, the picture becomes more clouded.

One  individual with Aspergers (now an adult) recounts here childhood experience with bullies:

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 student 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.

The mental torment that Aspergers victims feel is genuine. But possibly because a lot of us have experienced this kind of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer harassment is still generally written off as a “soft” type of abuse - one that leaves no apparent injuries and that most victims simply overcome. It’s easy to imagine that, agonizing as bullying can be, all it affects is a person’s feelings.

However, a new influx of research into the effects of bullying is now indicating something more than “hurt feelings” - actually, bullying may leave an indelible imprint on a teen’s brain at a time when it's still developing. Being ostracized by one’s friends, it appears, can throw teenage hormones even further out of whack, lead to decreased connectivity in the brain, as well as sabotage the growth of new neurons.

These neurological scars, as it happens, bear much resemblance to those carried by children who are physically and sexually mistreated in early childhood. Neuro-scientists now realize that the human brain continues to develop and change long after the initial few years of life. Scientists are recasting bullying not as simply a regrettable rite of passage, but as a severe form of childhood trauma that triggers inner physiological damage.

This change in viewpoint might have a variety of ripple effects for moms and dads, children, and schools; it provides a different way to consider the pain experienced by ostracized children, and may spur new anti-bullying policies. It provides the prospect that peer harassment, similar to abuse and other distressing experiences, may increasingly be seen as more than simply a social problem - one that can be measured with brain scans, and which might yield to new types of medical treatment.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, even serious child abuse was regarded as a mostly mental problem in its long-term effects, denting children emotionally in a manner that made it difficult for them to develop into happy grownups. Gradually, however, researchers started to look at the brains of grownups that had been abused as children and realize that the harm wasn’t simply psychological: Their brains had gone through distinguishing long-term modifications. In the last two decades, neuro-scientists have marshaled lots of proof that severe physical and sexual abuse throughout early childhood may short-circuit normal brain development.

Research reveals that children who had been bullied reported more the signs of depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems compared to children who hadn’t. In fact, psychological abuse from friends ended up being as harmful to mental health as psychological abuse from mothers and fathers.

People who reported having been roughed up by their peers had observable irregularities in a part of the brain known as the corpus callosum (i.e., a thick bundle of fibers that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and which is vital in visual processing, memory, and more). The neurons within their corpus callosums had less myelin, a coating that speeds communication between the cells (vital in an organ like the brain where milliseconds matter). It’s not yet completely clear what these types of changes in the corpus callosum can lead to, or whether they’re connected to the greater rates of depression of bullied children.

Being tormented by other kids may recalibrate a child's level of cortisol, a hormone pumped out by the body during times of stress. Boys who are occasionally bullied have higher levels of cortisol than their peers. Bullied girls, on the other hand, seem to have abnormally low levels of the hormone. (It’s not entirely clear why this is the case, but low cortisol levels are sometimes a sign of a body that has been so chronically stressed that it has learned to make less of the hormone.)

Cortisol may, in fact, underlie many of the negative effects of bullying. It may weaken the functioning of the immune system, and at higher levels can harm and even destroy neurons in the hippocampus, possibly resulting in memory problems that might make academics more challenging. Teens who're bullied perform worse on exams of verbal memory compared to their peers.

There's still a lot that neuro-scientists have to sort out. It remains difficult to completely disentangle cause and effect. It’s feasible, for instance, that children with certain hormonal levels or brain characteristics are more inclined, for reasons unknown, to be bullied to begin with. And, encouragingly, alterations in the brain don’t always result in long-term injury. Certainly, a few of the subjects who had what scientists suspect are bullying-related brain changes are actually happy, wholesome grownups.

However the findings are definitely attention grabbing, plus they raise a few serious questions regarding the way you should think about bullying. Does being wronged have subtle effects on cognitive functioning that we haven’t even noticed yet? Might some children become more prone to develop the neurological hallmarks of bullying? Since we know that victims are going through serious physiological changes, are there medical interventions that might be as beneficial, or even more so, than counseling and therapy? Would demonstrating that bullying scars the brain make it easier to prosecute bullies in court?

What about the bully?

Anti-bullying experts agree that school officials need to put the safety of victims first, but they should also concentrate more on the actual accused bullies. Expelling the bully from school is usually not the easiest method to deal with the issue. Rather than coming down hard on the bully, school authorities must think of a solid plan that holds bullies responsible, holds bystanders responsible, and keeps the targets safe.

Schools ought to institute “restorative justice,’’ which supports the victim and helps him/her stay safe while teaching bullies about the effect of their actions and giving them the chance to (a) make right what they’ve done, (b) to own what you did, and (c) attempt to fix it.

Recently there's been an epidemic of suicides by pupils who were bullied. Students who've been bullied, then also have bullied others, are at a high risk of harming themselves. Schools in many cases are in a no-win scenario with regards to accusations of bullying. When their child is a victim, parents want schools to be very authoritative, take control, and remedy the situation. But when their child is the bully, parents often undercut the authority of schools by challenging school officials when they discipline their child.

It’s essential for school officials to investigate accusations of bullying completely to determine the part each pupil played, and then try to discipline the bullying child in a manner that helps him and holds him responsible. We should not be focusing on the good guys and the bad guys, and how the good guys are totally innocent and the bad guys are totally guilty. If we want to prevent children from committing suicide over bullying, we have to interact with them to comprehend what’s happening with them, and help them by using the bullying episode a teachable moment.

What about the bystanders?

Bystanders are living up to their name by standing there and doing absolutely nothing - and this is really a problem. Numerous specialists today say that bystanders possess the capacity to significantly decrease bullying at schools. Their research provides strategies for parents and schools regarding how to get bystanders to take a stand.

Bystanders are essential because:
  • Bullies like an audience. If the audience shows disapproval, bullies are discouraged from continuing.
  • Bullying most often takes place in front of peers.
  • It almost never happens when adults are watching.
  • Most bystanders want to do something to stop the bully.

However, bystanders, particularly children, should be empowered to do something. The majority of children will not act for a number of reasons, possibly because they are frightened, confused or unclear about how to proceed.

Scientists are studying the role of the bystander and discovering precisely how critical it may be in creating a psychologically healthy atmosphere. If the status quo at any school is that children notice bullying behavior in others and do nothing at all about it, then they wind up tacitly giving their support to the bully.

Without having any kind of training or assistance from grownups, most children won't take any action if they see bullying. The percentage of kids who'll automatically intercede is about one in five. Children overall feel bullying is wrong and unjust, and many wish to intercede, but there are a variety of explanations why they do not.

The initial step in empowering bystanders to do something would be to help them see that their friends also feel bullying is wrong. Once they realize that many of their buddies would like them to intercede, they're prone to.

The second step is training them that intervening in a bullying scenario can make a difference. Research has shown that if a bystander discourages the bully there's a 50% probability that the bully will stop. The majority of bullies bully simply because they wish to make an impression on people and they like an audience. Therefore if the audience is booing rather than clapping, they recognize they are losing their audience.

However, with no bullying-prevention education, as much as 25% of kids will actually encourage the bully. These children are usually friends with the bully. They're also prone to have low self-esteem. But the larger issue is that more than half of kids will do absolutely nothing if they see somebody being bullied, and by doing nothing they motivate the bully.

Empowering the bystander is really about bridging the gap between what children believe is appropriate and what they really do. When asked what they should do in a bullying scenario, about two-thirds of kids say they ought to intercede, but only one-third of elementary school children really do. In high school, the percentages are even lower: only one-quarter of high school students will intercede.

Why do teenagers act less often to prevent bullying? Because bullying gets a lot more sophisticated and subtle in high school. It's more relational. It gets to be more difficult for teenagers to know when to intervene, whereas with younger children bullying is much more physical and for that reason more obvious.

It is critical to teach children about the power of the bystander early, before they begin to display signs of lack of empathy. Some children may protect themselves by becoming numb to bullying. There's an organic process of moving away emotionally and disengaging. Compounding this issue is the fact that in early teenage years bullying has a tendency to increase. There is an upsurge in the desire to dominate in early secondary school.

In conversations amongst teachers, parents and kids about what to do when bullying happens, the conventional advice is to tell the bully to stop. A few grownups may even go as far as to say that confronting the bully is really a brave thing to do. But there are other methods which may be simpler - and less dangerous - for kids to utilize.

We ought to take a look at an array of options apart from simply telling the bully to stop it. For instance, informing a grownup is good. If they are not comfortable providing lots of details, they can merely say, “Please watch the locker room at third period. There are bad things going on there at that time, but I'm not giving my name.”

An additional option for a child who witnesses bullying would be to distract the bully, or he can provide a getaway for the target by saying something to the target like, "Mr. Smith needs to see you right now."

Frequently children who're repeatedly bullied begin to wonder if they deserve it or somehow bring it on themselves. A bystander can combat these feelings by showing support to the bullied youngster, either during a bullying occurrence or afterward. A bystander can choose to sit down with the youngster at lunch or sit down by him in the classroom. He can call the target at home to say, “I saw what happened and I didn't know what to do, but I don't think you deserved it.” Any kind of expression of support is great.

Whenever bullying assumes a more subtle facade, as it often does in high school, bystanders ought to be asked to intercede by speaking up in support of a bullied classmate. For relational hostility - name calling and gossiping - bystanders should to take a stand. A large piece of this intervention is training kids that other kids are feeling exactly the same way they're about the bullying.

Kids shouldn't be asked to intercede physically in a fight or any harmful situation. As soon as things escalate into physical altercations, grownups ought to be summoned. Do not have kids intercede physically because you don't know where it's going to go. Discourage conflict, unless of course the bystander is a friend of the bully and can say something like, “Remember how much trouble you got in the last time you did something like this?”

Each and every school has a bully-victim issue. Mothers and fathers can get a sense of how healthy the school atmosphere is when they visit. They are able to decide if the school is promoting respect for others by searching for anti-bullying posters and observing how respectful pupils are towards others. They can look to find out if the children are playing happily together. Mothers and fathers should inquire if there is an anti-bullying policy and if they can view it. Parents have to be assertive to find out how the school is teaching anti-bullying programs.

Schools need to make a public commitment against bullying. Children need to know that the bully is going to be disciplined. Additionally, schools can educate anti-bullying conduct via role-playing. Schools ought to motivate students to be aware of sources of assistance.

It's also important that schools notify parents concerning the philosophy of bystander empowerment, to ensure that parents do not get the wrong impression. A few parents may be concerned, convinced that children are being asked to break up fights, which is not the case.

Children require grownups to show them to speak up against injustice. They need to realize that doing so isn't tattling or snitching, but doing what's right. Kids also need grownups to assist them to understand that they aren't alone in thinking that bullying is troubling and inappropriate, and that they will be supported by their friends when they speak up.


Why do children turn into a bully?
  • Because it makes them feel stronger, smarter, or better than the student they are bullying
  • Because it's one of the best ways to keep others from bullying them
  • Because it's what kids do if you want to hang out with the “cool” crowd
  • Because they see others doing it

What does bullying look like?
  • Getting others to exclude a particular person from the “group”
  • Getting shoved, pushed, or kicked
  • Spreading rumors about a particular person via e-mail, instant message, chat rooms, etc.
  • Teasing in a mean way, especially in front of an audience
  • Cyber-bullying happens over the internet or on cell phones out of the view of grown-ups

What are some of the negative effects of bullying?
  • Bullied kids are frequently distracted from schoolwork, thus they make poor grades
  • Bullied kids often complain of headaches, concentration difficulties, depression, stomach aches, etc.
  • Bystanders often feel guilty that they couldn’t or didn’t help
  • Bystanders often mention feeling afraid that they will be next
  • Many bullied kids who are bullied have low self-esteem, which may continue for many years

Why is an Aspergers child a likely target for bullies?
  • Because he seems “out of step” with the other students
  • Because of built-up frustration, he may over-react to most provocations, thus the bully knows he can always push the Aspergers student’s buttons at will
  • Because he has difficulty with multi-tasking and interpreting other’s intentions
  • He cannot tell the difference between good natured teasing versus someone being mean, or he is oblivious to an act of bullying or teasing behavior
  • He may have motor difficulties, so participating in athletics is difficult …even games at recess may be a challenge
  • His interests may be boring to others, so it’s hard for him to find other children with similar interests
  • Low frustration tolerance can lead to a meltdown, and kids who meltdown in school are looked at as “freaks”
  • He processes information at a different pace than expected, as a result, he may appear “space-out” or “disconnected”…then when he does respond, it is too late

Why is bullying allowed to continue?
  • Many students report no “bullying-intervention” by school officials
  • Many teachers report that they intervene – but they don’t!
  • There is a lot of misinformation and ignorance about “bullying behavior” (e.g., “If I don’t see it, then I can’t do anything about it” … “There’s nothing we can do unless we catch the bully in the act” … “We can’t be everywhere at all times” …etc.)
  • Research reveals that only about 4% of teachers intervene in episodes of bullying on the playground, and only about 14% of teachers intervene in episodes of bullying in the classroom
  • Socially savvy children bully “under the radar”

What needs to be done to stop bullying?
  • A network of like-minded professionals and community members to join in a partnership should be developed
  • A survey for teachers, parents and students should be devised to assess the level of the school’s bullying problem
  • Support, support, support …because children who feel supported by their teachers are more likely to report an incident than seek revenge
  • If a child reports an act of bullying behavior, it needs to be acted upon immediately
  • School officials need to learn more about the Aspergers condition and how it affects children in the learning environment
  • School officials should host an evening for parents to get together and hear what they have to say
  • Schools that have instituted bullying prevention programs that are working should be visited and copied
  • Support groups for students should be implemented
  • Suspected bullying should never be ignored by school staff
  • The Aspergers child needs to learn how to identify bullying or teasing behavior
  • The school should host a knowledgeable speaker on the topic of bullying

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Note: If you have an Aspergers child who has been - or is being - bullied, please comment using the comments button below. Your feedback is valuable!


 RE: “What happens to adults with Asperger’s who have been severely bullied as children?” 

Mark Hutten said… The bullying of children on the autism spectrum has become a worldwide concern, drawing the attention of researchers, teachers, policymakers, moms and dads, as well as the victims themselves. The list of ill effects that result from being bullied is extensive. Here are just a few of the outcomes that adults who have experienced childhood bullying may have to deal with to some degree or another:

• alcohol and drug abuse
• anxiety
• depression
• loneliness
• low self-esteem
• physical health complaints
• poor academic performance
• poor social self-competence
• psychosomatic symptoms
• running away from home
• school absenteeism
• school refusal
• social withdrawal
• suicide

When examining the comments from grown-ups who describe their childhood bullying experiences, it appears that over time, many victims have a reduction in their hurt feelings (e.g., less depression, decreased anxiety, diminished feelings of shame, etc.). However, for those victims who considered the bullying to be ongoing and extremely distressing, the negative feelings continue with reported long-term damaging effects on both personality and attitudes. Thus, childhood bullying appears to be a highly memorable experience. Memories of childhood bullying are associated with high rates of depression, social anxiety, pathological perfectionism, and greater neuroticism in adulthood. The negatively-affected Asperger’s adult would do well to seek counseling from a professional who specializes in PTSD.

Anonymous said… I am interested in the number of people who are bullied that end up in abusive romantic relationships, I think the numbers would be staggering - I doubt that adult relationship domestic violence is the first form of abuse most people suffer. I firmly believe that bullying primes people to be targets for future abuses, both self abuse and from other relationships, including business dealings and workplace dominance, people cannot underestimate the long lasting impacts. People who are 'losers' in life frequently good people who are being taken advantage of and taken for granted on more than 1 front, it can feel like a conspiracy, like everyone else gets it, but you're left out of the joke, like you don't know the secret handshake to a happy life. People who are targets feel like they wear a tattoo everyone but them can see, too trusting, too honest to conceive of the lies and deceit being perpetrated on them. The most perplexing part is, being above average in intelligence is a required component of Asperger's, but frequently they must use their powers for good and not evil, because so many of the smartest people on the planet are targeted. I teach my 8 year old that how he treats his little brother is also setting the stage for how his little brother will interact with others, I tell him that if he bullies and bosses he is training his brother to be a target. Boys will be boys, but bullies will be bullies and victims will be victims!

Anonymous said… I don't know if my husband was bullied but he experiences all of these things, and I myself find it very hard to deal with him.

Anonymous said… My 11 year old daughter was bullied just last night..While at a skating party for her school she went to play with two other girls in her class, they ran from her and sat in front of me and I heard them say we hate her she is weird lets trip her when she skates. I then said Hi I am her Mom. It took all I had not to say anything else. My daughter said they were her friends.

Anonymous said… Was scary reading this as I was bullied all through primary and secondary (high school) and I have/still am experiencing some of these effects...it is sad that nobody understands and think you are just making it up to gain some sympathy unless you have gone through it. For just once I would love to see the bullies experience what they dished out to others and get a taste of their own medicine and see how they feel then. I abhor bullying and do my best to put an end to it if I see it happening to my kids, especially my aspie son, and to others.

Anonymous said… I have always told my son, now 15, that most bullies are bullies because they are the unhappy ones. Many times kids bully because they are bullied and/or mistreated at home. I would give him examples of things that the bully could possibly be facing at home. I told him some kids are just mean and have a wonderful home life, but often times not so much. This helped him have a different outlook on the bullies/mean kids. It helped him to not let them bother him so much. He stopped reacting so much to them, he has stood up for himself more plus he's gotten older and a lot of the bullying has gotten better as kids mature.  I do fear loneliness to be a factor for my son due to he has spent most of his school life isolated. Not only by others but he's isolated himself. However, I have seen a huge difference in the last 12-16 months of coming out of his shell. I think my son will grow up to strive in life and I will take some credit as to how I've always dealt with the issues as they've come up. I've been very real and honest with him. I think all kids need that, especially those with struggles.

More comments below... 


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the Newletter. My daughter now 13 was verbly bullied in elementary school she was only bullied a little but it has really stuck with her. She has never liked school because she does not feel like she fits in. During her 6th grade yr we homeschooled her and she really liked it alot. But she needs to her some other interactions so she now goes 1/2 days a she seems pretty happy with that. She is a little scared of some of the stuff going on with other kids though she loves the teachers and that is the main reason she goes to see the teachers and learn :)

frustrated said...

Is it possible for public middle school to provide a positive learning experience for a high functioning aspergers child? My 13 year old daughter has been a target of bullying since the 4th grade. She is fully mainstreamed because she is academically "high functioning". I send her to school for the socialization. However, I am questioning that, because she is only learning that her peers are "not o.k.". She hates school, and is being treated for anxiety and depression. Bullying is constant and "below the radar", being mostly relational. I feel that I send her into a war zone each day. School officials try to address targeted incidents, but are mostly ineffective. I wonder if 1/2 day education would be better. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Mark, many thanks for the great writing and information sharing! It's been a real blessing for me.

Our 2nd grader gets called gross often due to his oral fixations and messy eating habits. The school is doing what they can, but as one person stated it's "under the radar" a lot of times since it happens in places like the lunch room or playground. In addition, he's often singled out of groups making him feel as though nobody likes him. It's tough and scary for the little guy.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mom of a teen son who has been bullied so much, by the end of his 8th grade year he shut down.Between that and the acedemics, he went into depression. By the end of last summer he was finaly awarded an IEP. But, school was slow about implenting things with the IEP. It was a struggle to get him to school. Second week in, bullied. Which led to school refusal in short. That led to homebound schooling.So, I take him to his base school after school hrs for his acedemics.

It is rough. I am exhausted. I live on anxiety. Especialy when it comes time for his schooling.
In short my husband does not get,why our son stays in his room. Does not realize that a smile is a milestone. That I have Pastor coming into the house to tutor him with his religion. She comes once a week and he comes out and sits with her and interacts somewhat with her. And that I mostly have got him to his homebound schooling.Those are huge things.

My husband expects our son to come talk to him. How do I get my husband to realize our son is not capable at this point in time. Our son interacts with me in increments, because I have made the effort, I open his door, tell him Love You...amongst many other things I have done...I used to get the grunt , in the beging of last summer. Day to day I worked it.

Anonymous said...

Have you attempted to educate your husband about Aspergers? Perhaps if he knew the facts he would have a change of heart.

edderiofer said...

I AM such a child with Asperger's Syndrome. Bullying hurts so badly. In my first secondary school, I was being discriminated by the teachers, especially the Head of Year. Whenever I was being bullied, they turned a blind eye, whereas when I fought back, I was suspended and the bullies weren't even punished. I do not want to see the hallway where I took those internal suspensions. I later quit that school.

Just because we are "disabled", as the government puts it, does NOT mean we are braindead and do not have feelings. We actually feel feelings more deeply than most people, only we cannot describe them properly. More than 3 times, I have contemplated suicide because I have been bullied and cannot express my feelings. If the government has already shown that bullying is wrong, and already have laws against cyberbullying, WHY won't they establish laws against normal bullying in schools? If someone bullies someone else into suicide, is that not murder? How many more times must we, the "disabled" community be tortured to the end of our tether before people FINALLY understand that we are still people?

I'm leaving. If this sort of thing keeps on happening, I can only try writing to the President or Queen or PM.

Anonymous said...

My son really wants friends. He sees his sister talking with her "girlfriends" on the phone, and his "so-called" friends won't answer his calls or return them. He is feeling really left out. I'm not sure what to do.... I cannot afford to put him in any after school programs. And our area doesn't have things for kids to do for free. We live in a neighborhood without children..... And his sister really wants some time without her older brother bugging her....UUGGGHHHHH

Anonymous said...

My son is 11 and has aspergers. To look at him, you would never guess it..he appears very "normal" He makes friends easily, but can't keep them.
He is starting Middle school this fall. I am a petrified mom! I have had him in two different elementary schools, because of the horrible sped teachers in one, and the bullying. We moved from Boston to New Mexico 2 years ago. The children here I find are tough, bullies, they have no manners, and their parents are not much better! They do not have inclusion classes here as they did in Boston. Dom has a therapist, and psychiatrist and has taken social classes...but these kids are incorrigible! They taunt him to the point where he lashes out both verbally and some times, yet not often, physically. The kids KNOW that they can get a rise out of him, and find it funny when Domenic gets into trouble....but THEY don't get in trouble for doing it to him! PLEASE...what can I do to help these teachers STOP the teasing, and to help domenic!...Dom is NO angel, and I know his social skills, or lack of I should say...makes him odd. So he gets teased. I just want him to WANT to go to school, learn and enjoy it. I worry ALL day about the phone ringing that i have to go to school...because HE is in trouble. He hates going to school because of this, and most of it is that he is different, so he gets lost and harassed...by teachers too!

Anonymous said...

What do you do when the teacher is the bully?

Anonymous said...

Re: What do you do when the teacher is the bully?

Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group
In rare - but unfortunate - instances, the bully is not another peer, but an insensitive - or unenlightened - teacher (i.e., one who knows very little about Aspergers). In one case that I am aware of personally, a young boy with Aspergers honestly did not understand his gym teacher's instructions. After telling him several times (still in ways he did not understand), the exasperated gym teacher pushed the boy and said, “What are you? Some kind of retardo?” This is, of course, inexcusable behavior and must be dealt with by counseling the Aspergers student immediately to prevent the onset of additional anxiety issues. Teacher bullying also needs to be addressed with the school administration so that the student is removed from that teacher's class – and the teacher's behavior is addressed. You may also need to counsel your Aspie about reporting extreme cases of bullying. Ensure that he is clear about what is good-natured kidding and what is unacceptable to endure. It can be a fine line sometimes, and sorting it through will be an ongoing process.

Anonymous said...

Karen Williams Yes, it can be a very fine line. my son's perceptions can be off sometimes, and what he may perceive as bullying from a teacher may not be bullying at all, it is so hard to distinguish and realize the truth. I have had to take back my accusations and apologize profusely in the past to an OT who he had misinterpreted...I am very careful about these things now.
37 minutes ago · Like · 1 person
Linda Atkinson something like that happened to my aspie her teacher was very insulting
37 minutes ago · Like
Lissa Bean We had a similar scenario with my daughters kindergarten teacher and gym teacher too. So sad that the real "retardo's" are the ignorant teachers/ people. :-(
30 minutes ago · Like
Katie Osborn I can become like a lioness!!! Bullying seems to be the hardest obstacle in my boy's life. I work with the school closely. It has been my experience that he does much better with no nonsense teachers rather than free spirits. There are and probably always will be hard times for him when all he can do is hit his head. Then the teacher gets him to a safe zone. Good luck caring parents.
26 minutes ago · Like
Nancy Smith Johnson homeschool. wish i had been able to from the start. we LOVE it! the answer to our prayers.
24 minutes ago · Like
Katie Osborn I don't mean to disagree about homeschooling. I could be wrong. But, don't our children need to socialize? The learning process is hard for all. Even parents. Keep faith in your beautiful child. They're wise. They're the future.
17 minutes ago · Like · 1 person
Michaela Turnbull my daughter was picked on by her teacher shes a very quiet child and shes been bullied by her so called peers and her secoiund to last teacher in her old junior school i just hope she doesnt suffer the same fate in high school when she starts next week i reported the teacher to the head and it was all sorted afterwards she couldnt of been nicer to my child so glad shes out of that school now
6 minutes ago · Like

Anonymous said...

Maggie Petts
With my aspie going up to senior school last september we made lots of noise at the school to make sure everyone knew about him. This info was well received and filtered, abeit a little slowly sometimes, down through all his teacher's. Having this info on record there is no excuse for any teacher to bully 'by mistake'! If my son was to interpret something a teacher said as bullying then he obviously feels bullied! It's up to the teacher to watch what they say, not up to our kids to know when it's to be taken lightly and when not. Coming from someone in the playground, yes, they have to try and distinguish joke from insult, but not from a forarmed teacher.
16 hours ago · Like
Nancy Smith Johnson ‎@KAtie, that's probably the biggest misconception about homechooling. The socializing. We have LOTS of it, but on our terms and timelines. Everyone is so much more at ease (in our family....just plain happier). It's what we do as adults. Join groups with people who have similar interests. Say yes to this invitation and no to that one. School is a whole lot of forced socializing, not all positive.
16 hours ago · Like · 5 people
Brenda Garza I suspected my sons 2nd grade teacher was the bully. Before I complained I wanted someone else to observe. I had his therapist observer the classroom on the ruse that she was observing him. Her report was that 'that woman should not be teaching young children'. Turns out it wasn't just be being overprotective.
15 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Diane Gogots Gillespie Beat the crap out of the teacher??? ha...seriously, go directly to the principle and demand a teacher change. NO teacher should ever bully--that teacher should be removed if it ever happens...
14 hours ago · Like · 2 people
Beth Ann Arbogast
We have a 504 plan that we requires parents and teachers sit down and talk about Jacoby before school starts. I make it very clear that I will be monitoring throughout the year. And the public school he goes to all the teachers have attended training about aspergers and most have taught others already. Having said that I agree that you get confirmation of the situation, meet with principal and teacher and escalate as needed.
14 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Joe Whitehead M Ed
Teacher conference first, admin next if issue is not resolved. If not resolved at admin, go to school board by filing a level 2 complaint, in Texas. If no satisfaction there, file level three. At the level two complaint, in Texas, u should file a complaint with the TX education agency on teacher and school admins. Nip it in the bud so child can be successful. Don't back down or back off. Keep them accountable. I know this first hand, it will get their attention and they will do right!
13 hours ago · Like · 1 person

Anonymous said...

Barbe Jungl My son had an horrible experience last year in school. He was bullied by not only teachers, and students... but also by the principle. It unfortunaltely reached the level where I had to involve the law. We are the only protection these children have. I too am considering home schooling.
12 hours ago · Like
Joe Whitehead M Ed ‎@barbe jungi prayers r with you and yours. Hang tough and file with the state education agency against them.
11 hours ago · Like · 2 people
AspieSide the teacher was being unreasonable and accused my son of things he didn't do. I witnessed it myself. I reported it to the principal who took her side. They both treated him so poorly I went to the director of special education. They got better after that :) It helped that the teacher was extremely inappropriate in a meeting in front of witnesses. @Diane I did want to beat her up.
11 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Carol Morris
In front of me, the school psychologist (who had been informed of his recent hospitalization for severe depression and a recent dx of Asperger's) told my son that "we have kids with half your IQ who don't have trouble with this stuff" (meaning the work he wasn't getting done in class.) Not exactly bullying, but I wish to heaven I had taken that as the harbinger of pitfalls it turned out to be - all 3 years of middle school were a nightmare.Things are getting better now, but I'll never go against my instincts again.
11 hours ago · Like
Carol Morris Then there was the summer program supervisor who, when my son said something disrespectful (but true), responded in a Clint Eastwood tone, "say that to me again." So of course he did - and got in trouble. Who's the adult here?
11 hours ago · Like
Jennifer Reed The most important thing I learned for my children was to write a letter when I have a prob
10 hours ago · Like
Jennifer Reed lem. Respectful letters stating the facts to teachers, principals, special ed. directors and Superintendents help build a case for the changes your child needs.
10 hours ago · Like
Jo Tough My son was called a baby by a teacher he had in junior school. All because he didn't understand what she was saying so he got anxious and upset. She also said he was weird and awkward. No wonder he finds it difficult to trust school staff now.
about an hour ago · Like

Anonymous said...

My 13 year old Aspie son was just suspended from school for three days for hitting two of his bullies this morning on the bus. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to teach him that violence is not the answer, but I do not want him to be pushed around his whole life. The bullies started with him at the bus stop this morning, and today he hit his breaking point. The school sent him home, and nothing is happening to the bullies. He went to administration earlier this school year to let them know the bullying was occurring again this year, their answer to him was "I am not dealing with this stuff again this year, you need to learn to ignore them"...so of course he has not gone back to tell them about any more of the issues. What can I do? I am so torn right now, I am of course upset with him for raising his hand in the first place, and I am upset with the school for not doing anything when it was brought to their attention earlier.

Anonymous said...

I have reason to believe that my Aspergers son’s teacher is a bully. My son rarely complains about anything – but he has told me story after story of how she will ridicule and shame him in front of the other students. I don’t want to draw false conclusions or blame, but if this is going on, I’d like to know how to address it.

Anonymous said...

Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group:

If you think there may be a problem between this teacher and your son, here's a plan of action:

1. Gather the facts. Try to remain objective and open-minded. If there is a problem, don’t immediately assume that it is entirely the teacher's fault; it could be a problem with your child or the school. If your school or teacher will allow it, sit in and observe what goes on in the classroom. If parent observation is not permitted, talk with other parents to see if their children are having problems. Also talk with parents whose child had this teacher in past years to determine if there is an ongoing problem.

2. Document the problems. Write down the times and dates of incidents of a teacher's inappropriate behavior. If other parents are noticing problems, ask them to do the same.

3. Call or meet with the teacher. Schedule a face-to-face meeting if you feel a phone call won't resolve the problem.

4. Approach the teacher as a professional and an ally. Avoid a confrontational attitude and stick to the facts. Try to stay clear of personal criticism. Focus on classroom practices, curriculum and what you feel your child needs. Once you have had a conversation with the teacher, give him the opportunity and a fair amount of time to improve the situation.

5. Follow the school's policy. Your school should have a policy on teacher-parent disagreements. Ask what the policy is and follow it. Give this process time to work.

6. Contact the principal. If you don't see any progress after a few weeks, take your concerns to the principal. But be aware that it is always better if you can resolve the problem without involving the principal. Once you involve the principal, you cross a line, and your relationship and your child's relationship with the teacher will be forever changed.

7. Contact the district superintendent. If you still haven't resolved the problem after speaking with the principal, contact the district superintendent. Ask what the district's policy is on evaluating teachers and how teachers are assigned to schools in the district. Gather other parents with you who are concerned about the teacher. Realize that this process takes time and may not end in a quick solution, but there is hope if you are persistent in working with other parents and continue to voice your concerns.

Anonymous said...

That is tough! My son had a teacher who was SO hard on him, expecting things from him that just weren't possible and making him feel TERRIBLE about himself. We eventually had him moved to a different class.

Anonymous said...

I have just begun going through the exact same thing with my daughters math teacher
14 minutes ago · Like

Anonymous said...

You have to remember not everyone 'gets' these kids the same way we do! I believe we we're chosen to parent these kids for a reason.. there is something ' special in US to be their parent! ♥

Anonymous said...

I am also having a similar issue with my fourth-grader's teacher. He has been having severe meltdowns at school and home. She insists on eye contact and gets mad at him in front of the class for his disorganization and lack of focus. We have been fighting to get a 504 or IEP and finally have that meeting next week. Problem is, the teacher and principal both think he is a behavior problem and threatened to pull him out of the gifted program because of these things. He is working so hard, I don't know what I can do. We have met with the teac her several times but nothing ever seems to come out of it. I hope all of your situations get resolved well and soon. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Having someone observe the classroom can also be helpful. Is this a teacher who uses sarcasm or teasing? Many kids with Asperger's have trouble recognizing when this is happening and can misinterpret things. There may need to be teacher education---as well as training your child (if this is happening and he is mis-interpreting it) Observation can help determine if the behavior your son is complaining about is used with everyone or just him. Is your child having trouble with the material in school? Every year it can get a little more challenging and require greater use of more abstract language, more executive function skills, etc. So, he may need different support this year than he has in the past. Has the teacher been given information about Asperger's? You are wise to listen to your son --- there is obviously something not right---but try to get a more rounded opinion to make sure the real issues are being addressed. Good luck

Anonymous said...

It's my experience that even if the teachers behavior isn't intended to be taken that way, it COUNTS and is a valid complaint when your kid perceives it that way. Calls for correction... I had this happen with my kid and teacher destroyed his trust in all adults outside our home and hurt his love of learning something fierce.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with my daughters teacher! Ridiculing and name calling. So sad. I would try to volunteer or send a digital recorder to school and stuff it in his bag. They have those 20 hour long recorder that college students use so they're very effective! I have resorted to this once in the classroom when I was volunteering and to my surprise they teacher never hanged her ways. So it helped a lot. So sad that it has to come down to things like this but I believe it's high time the schools start recording teaching either by sound or with video. Too much damage is being done to children and teachers are walking away Scott free. :-(

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment completely. I would suggest getting your child involved with an IEP or 504 plan. If you decide to follow-through with a IEP or 504 plan, it would allow special accomodations to further assist the child. You have the right, as a parent, to request an evaluation. The best way to go about getting an IEP/504 is to send a letter to the principal requesting a "comprehensive IEP evaluation." Also, it's imperative to train your teachers. Everyone needs to be on the same page. With one of my Aspie clients, we have an instructional sheet on meeting/engaging with him and a list of symptoms for new people he encounters (i.e. new doctors, teachers, etc).

Anonymous said...

I can't emphasize the need for aspies to have an iep or 504 in place. It protects both sides as many of the things mentioned can be addressed in writing. As for pulling kids from gifted programs, you should find out if participation is dependent on grades and/or behavior. I agree that aspies need special parents and I'm willing to stand up for my kid any day. :). Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Our lil boy has Aspergers and his 2nd grade teacher was the same way. She even told my wife she was afraid of him and that we should check him for knives before he leaves for school. Luckily the school Psychologist and the Principle stepped in and we were able to move him into a different school that had a teacher that has a class that has all children that are the same way as our lil boy in some way or another. She has been a blessing and he has been making great improvements. In our opinions if a teacher cant handle these special children they shouldnt be teaching.

Anonymous said...

You also need to trust your child. Many kids feel that they cannot trust so they hide. I learned that when you address a problem you don't ask, you TELL! You let this teacher know "My son/daughter is not comfortable with being ridiculed in front of his peers/classmates" that way you don't sound like you doubt your child's plea. I'm having butterflies in my stomach remembering how I felt, learning to advocate for my daughter b/c no one else will!!! I wish you the best :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how the other parents feel about it but I have always found that although my daughter is an 'Aspie' she has a pretty good instincts when it comes to aggressive tendencies towards her and she is not given to lying so I would be apt to trust her on this. That said you need to address it immediately with the teacher. Instead of accusations though you need to feel her out and see how she feels about your child and her ABILITY to teach him/her. The bullish behavior might stem from her own frustrations. Explain that ridicule or being singled out it a 'trigger' for your child's disorder. Remind them that your child has a neurological disorder and that their behavior is not a matter of displine and has to be dealt with using a different approach. Offer your advice as to what works at home or direct the teacher to a good resource for this information. If that does not do it get the school's administration involved. Don't let it go on longer than it needs to.

Anonymous said...

My Aspie daughter has ALWAYS been a product of her environment! If she feels threatened by a teacher, she will always give it right back to them, with no filter. She is a perfect mirror for that behavior. So with that said, I have to believe that there is something going on in your child's classroom. I, myself, have gone thru the "Ticked off" stage, the being "quiet about it" stage, then we when received a new principal during my daughters 5th grade year, I went through and am still continuing with what Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group commented first about. Please follow that advise, I just can't stress that enough. I thought/felt that my only option left was to re-enroll and go to school with my daughter... which Thankfully I have not had to do, because I started following those guidelines. Trust me when I say I completely feel your stress like that of most of us in this group. But I can say that if I survived it, you can too! I have complete faith in you! You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Love your comment about her being a mirror for behavior... we all can be, we tend to feed off peoples moods n feelings if we choose to.. these kids tend to more so because expressing THEMSELVES can be hard for them ... great point! :)

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem last year with my 10 year old daughter. It was a miserable year. No matter what I did the problem was never solved. Hang in there and trust your gut! I am so sorry for both you and your child.

Anonymous said...

If the teacher is actually bullying--ridiculing the student I'd try and get a video or tape. That person shouldn't be teaching. Other things can be handled with iep's, 504, meetings and training.

Anonymous said...

I need some advice...I just recently learned that my12yo aspire son was being bullied by a child with serious behavior issues that in his class. He has been harrassing him for awhile. Doing stuff like taking his school supplies and picking on him. I just took it as kids just being kids. And I told him to tell his teacher. Then this week on Monday, I picked him up and said he had a bad headache. That evening when talking to him he said he never wanted to go back to that school. He said this child hit him in the groin abdomen and the back of his head in the boy's bathroom . Later that evening I called the Teacher and she told me that my child didn't tell her at first. Three other classmates told her. My son is an introvert. My son has told me that he wanted to did and that he hated school. He used to love school. They said the other child was suspended til January. When I went to the school and told them I didn't want my son back in the same class as this child they said their were restrictions b/c this child is being served with spec ed. My son was scared to go the following day. This has happened before in the boys bathroom one other time. It's not fair for my son to have to be moved and start a whole new schedule. It should be the other kid that gets moved. They told me if I take it to tribunal my son would have to get on a stand in front of the other child and say what happened. My son is scared. So he would be able to do that.I don't want this kid back in his class. But because there are only two spec ed teachers on. I'm the school it will be hard to take him out. What can I do to keep this kid out of my sons class? Please help!!!!

Anonymous said...

"I have had problem after problem with my son's teaching assistant (he's 9yrs old with asperger's) and today at yet another meeting with his school, they produced copies of questions I had asked on here and other sites regarding how to deal with the way my son is being treated at school... they had been literally stalking websites, groups and pages that I was using... I am really freaked out that I am being stalked by a government educational institute... I have changed my name and picture on here because of this... but has anything like this happened to anyone else and if they did, how did they deal with it? Does anyone know where I stand legally? I said nothing mentioning anybody's names or even the name of the school... just the things that have been happening to my son... they showed it to me in a way that was attempting to use it against me..."

Anonymous said...

Ok some advice needed parents! My 10yr old Aspie son has been bullied for the past 2 years. This year is much better, much less. I switched after school care for him for this very reason and this last month has been great until Friday. He was on the playground trying to defend a girl that 'Michael' was bullying/teasing. Was telling Michael to leave her alone...when Michael punched him three times, twice being in the face. Instead of going to tell the counselor (he didn't want to be called a tattle-tale), he went inside and sat in the corner alone, didn't want anyone to see him crying. (until I picked him up an hour later). Before we left, he told me what happened and I discretely called the counselor out and explained what happened. She's going to talk to Michael - here's my question. and feelings. I'm pissed, obviously. Yes, he should have let the counselor know but we all know what public school is like and how kids are, especially non-aspies. Kids are mean. Part of me wants to go in Monday and 'deal with it' and part of me wants him to learn and fight his battle, sort of. Do I 'let this this go'? It may cause more problems or not...anyone with experience would help. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

On 12-08-2010, after many complaints to the school and bus garage, my son hung himself. Doctors said it didn't look good, but he lives, with brain damage. Pull your kids out of school to make it a point for them to do something. Because lack of knowledge of AS and yes, possibly lazy school staff, your kids are not safe, I learned the hardest way.

Arlene said...

I live in Albuquerque. Do you? My 9 year old daughter has
As and suffers greatly from bullying.

Anonymous said...

Our son is being bullied and tormented at school, and the school is punishing him for the resulting emotional outbursts. We have decided to keep him at home today, and until we find a school that understands Aspergers children.

We are based in London, UK - and I'm hoping that this site is UK based, too. Please can someone point us in the right direction for searching out schools that really are good with Aspergers, rather than schools that pretend to be.

At the moment he is at Primary school, but we will also need a suitable High school within a couple of years. His position on the spectrum is described as 'borderline,' so his present school really isn't even trying!


Anonymous said...

some one needs to teach the neurotypical comunity that bullying is a bad thing . The schools are terrible and by default actually promote bullies , and then when some severely bullied kid wants to goto school and shoot everyone who bullied him/her, ALL the NTs turn from bullies into victims ---amazing.. majority of NTs suck and so does bullying. FYI most wars are just a bigger form of bullying....again an NT institution.

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