Bullying of kids with autism spectrum disorder is a very real problem. Often, these children have unique characteristics that make them seem different from other kids, which unfortunately, can make them a target. The effects of bullying can have a lasting impact on children and their development, and while bullying is a difficult issue to deal with, it must not go unaddressed. As a parent, here are some things you can do if your child with autism is getting bullied.
10. Communicate With Your Child Regularly
First, communicate with your child regularly. Ask them about their day, about the other kids, and about anything that made them sad or uncomfortable. This way, if they do start getting bullied, you’ll be doing everything you can to find out right away. Checking in with your child frequently will set the stage for them to feel comfortable about talking with you about difficult issues.
9. Figure Out What Leads Up To The Bullying
Talk to your child about the bullying incident. The goal is to figure out what led up to the occurrence of bullying. Together, you might be able to piece together a plan to avoid triggering these situations.
8. Have Your Child Stay Close to a Friend
See if your child has someone they can be around when playing at recess, walking in the halls, and going to and from school. It could be a friend, a classmate, or an older sibling. Bullies tend to be less willing to engage in bullying when their target has an advocate or friend to stick up for them.
7. Decide What Places Your Child Should Avoid
There are some areas where bullies might congregate, and these may be places that your child should avoid. For instance, maybe there have been problems on the basketball court on the playground, or in the park while walking home. Having you child avoid these areas can reduce instances of bullying.
6. Role Play How to Deal with Bullying
Come up with several different ways to deal with bullying, and then role play them with your child until they’re comfortable with the methods. For example, teach your child to walk away from a potential situation, or to speak assertively to a bully.
5. Suggest Things Your Child Can Do
Sometimes, a few simple actions can stop a situation from escalating. Try to teach your child how to act as if they’re unafraid. Help them learn to walk tall and, if possible, make eye contact with their bully. Sometimes just exuding confidence can steer away instances of bullying.
4. Demonstrate How To Manage Negative Emotions
Try to teach your child how to manage their emotions so that if more instances of bullying occur, they can be prepared to deal with an uncomfortable situation as best they can. This means knowing how to respond to fear and anger, not responding to hostility with more hostility, and knowing when and how to walk away.
3. Talk with Your Child’s Teacher
If the bullying continues to be an issue, talk to your child’s teacher. They might be able to step in, redirect the bullying child, or enlist the help of school administrators. They might even give you valuable insights into what’s going on so that you can understand what’s happening and more effectively intervene at home.
2. Find Out the School’s Policies on Bullying
Look into how your child’s school addresses bullying, and learn what steps staff members are expected to take in response to those incidents. If the school is looking into a bullying incident on your behalf, remember that the process might take time for administrators to fully investigate. Have patience, but know what their obligations are.
1. Seek Legal Help
If the school or school district isn’t able to resolve the issue, you may have to enlist the aid of a lawyer. An attorney can offer advice on what your options are and what legal claims you can pursue, be it against the school, or the parents who aren’t helping solve the problem.
There’s much that can be done to mitigate and stop bullying, especially of a vulnerable child with autism. Remember that you’re not alone in dealing with this. There are resources, people, and even legal recourse to help you protect your child and resolve the issue.
Parenting isn’t easy for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for parents of children on the autism spectrum. That being said, every parent has had the occasional moment that they wish they could take back. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent some of these instances. Click the link below to learn about 5 common mistakes autism parents make, and how you can avoid them.