Unfortunately, children with autism are especially vulnerable to bullying. A 2012 study by the Interactive Autism Network found that a total of 63% of 1,167 children with ASD, ages 6 to 15, had been bullied at some point in their lives. With that, we asked several of our bloggers who have autism to share what they would want to tell bullies and reflect on their own personal experiences with bullying to educate our community.
Here is what they had to say…
"To all those bullies, be careful what you say and do to others because you never know who that person you bully might become in the future. The person you bully could be the next greatest athlete in the world, an inventor of something bigger than iPhones. Heck, that person you bully could become your boss one day. They could also become the next Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Taylor Swift or Michael Phelps. All who were bullied as kids, and look where they ended up in life today. Thus the point of be careful of what you say and do to others cause you never know." - Anthony Ianni
"Decades have passed since I was bullied in high school, but I remember it vividly. I remember what it felt like to have my books thrown all over the floor, publicly. I remember the name-calling. I remember someone trying to make me feel less than to make themselves feel power in front of our peers. Those memories are still etched in my mind. Too bad he didn’t feel more confident about his own self to love someone who was different. It is cruel to take the voiceless, shut them down, and leave their inward screams to go unheard." - Ann Kagarise
"For you, this interaction is over the moment you walk away. For me, this will live on for the rest of my life and the memories of your words can be triggered at any moment during the most innocent of times. Personally, when I hear the 'R word', I automatically go back to being a 16-year-old hearing a group of teenagers calling me that as a boarded my short bus." - Phil Martin
"My life's wisdom has given me one thought about bullies. People who are bullies love to bully individuals whom they perceive as less than themselves. The reality is quite the reverse. Anyone who would bully another person is the lesser one. I would never bully anyone, which makes me a far better person than the one bullying me." - Anita Lesko
"As a child, I was very difficult to handle because I was born with Asperger’s. I had very few friends and have been alone all my life. Being a very sensitive child, other kids took it upon themselves to bully me. I couldn't fight back and couldn't talk to my parents. At the age of fourteen, I got involved in Army Cadets. This organization became my new family, one where I wasn't bullied. One where I could advance and develop great disciplinary skills. As a result, I never had to deal with bullies again. All you need is self-confidence." - Amanda Wilson
"You may think you are just 'fooling around' with no intended malice. But in reality you resurrect an endless body of anguish that we are trying to keep dormant. The things that make someone 'cool' in the jungle of social hierarchies are impossible for most of us to strive for and many standards are actually ridiculous and unfair. We will keep rehashing these bad memories forever like a crumpled piece of paper. Waiting until it gets better is a cliché and sometimes never happens if there is not unrelenting effort." – Jesse Saperstein
At Autism Speaks we have compiled resources to help you and your child take a stand against bullying. You can access those resources anytime here.
Have a story you want to share about living on the autism spectrum? Email us at InOurOwnWords@autismspeaks.org.