This week's Your Dollars @ Work post tells what Autism Speaks is doing to stop bullying in the autism community.
A 2012 study from the Interactive Autism Network found that 63% of 1,167 children with ASD surveyed, ages 6 to 15, had been bullied at some point in their lives. 39% reported having been bullied within the last month. To compare, the study also surveyed 795 typically-developing siblings, also age 6 through 15, and only 12% had been bullied in the past month. In other words, children with ASD were bullied at a rate more than three times higher than that of their unaffected siblings.
Autism Speaks recognizes that bullying is a terrible problem facing the autism community that needs to be addressed. Bullying can be very detrimental to the mental health, wellbeing and happiness of children and young adults with autism. Bullying has also been found to affect a student's ability to learn. Other side effects can include anxiety, depression and an increase in challenging behaviors. Education and awareness are essential to help combat bullying and put an end to this unnecessary and preventable challenge experienced by people on the spectrum.
In 2012, Autism Speaks partnered with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Ability Path and the PACER Center's National Bullying Prevention Center to create a movement toward a bully free world through our BULLY Project. Together with our partners, we released a Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit full of resources and information specifically tailored to parents, educators, and students dealing with bullying and children with special needs. This helpful tool to combat bullying contains, among others, the following resources:
Conversation starters to talk to your child about bullying
Information about bullying and your child's IEP
Tips for explaning your child's disability to classmates
Advice from experts, and more!
Who am I? Figuring out what role you play at school
Lesons on self-advocacy
How to speak up about bullying, and more!
Strategies for talking with bullying and bullied children, especially
those with special needs
Creating a zero-tolerance environment
Ideas for teaching tolerance, and more!
In addition to the toolkit, the Combating Bullying portal on the Autism Speaks website contains information about taking action, a spotlight on the documentary film BULLY, along with many books and websites to help you educate and advocate to prevent bullying in your child's life. Visit the Combating Bullying web portal here!
Help Autism Speaks and our partners Create a Bully-Free World for Children with Special Needs. Join the movement now!
Autism Speaks also provided a grant to New York University's Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Support Project for a program called Keeping It Real that works with successful self-advocates to develop curricula for younger students with autism. Self-advocate Jesse Saperstein created a curriculum for schools on "Lessons in Compassion" to combat bullying. Learn more here!