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How to Handle Children Who Bully Students With Asperger's

by Amber Keefer, studioD

Forbes.com reports that a 2012 study by the Kennedy Krieger Institute found that nearly two-thirds of autistic children had been victims of verbal bullying at some time. Many also had been physically bullied, with Asperger's students picked on more than other kids on the autism spectrum. The unusual characteristics of Asperger's make these kids more likely targets. If you suspect that your child is bullying students with Asperger's or witnessing bullying firsthand, confronting her and equipping her with more knowledge can help prevent this type of singling out in the future.

Encourage your child to help students with Asperger's, not bully them because they seem different. Suggest that he ask his friends and classmates to do the same. Explain how verbal bullying can affect an Asperger's child’s schoolwork, make him physically sick, diminish his self-esteem or lead to anxiety and depression.

Clarify that a child with Asperger's syndrome isn’t intellectually impaired and shouldn’t be teased and called names. Point out that kids with Asperger’s often are highly intelligent despite their poor social skills. Suggest that your child get to know these students better. Tell her that children with Asperger's syndrome don’t always know what it is other people expect them to do in a social situation so they find it difficult to make friends.

Explain that children with Asperger's take what people say literally. Let your child know how an Asperger's student doesn't always understand what his peers are talking about and that brings on additional anxieties. Point out that these kids often don’t understand humor, so explaining what a joke means is a way to help them.

Ask your child to show patience to an Asperger's classmate. Explain that when the student asks questions one after another it's her attempt to socialize. Point out that the student isn't intentionally trying to be annoying and the problem may be she lacks conversation skills. Tell your child that with the help of schoolmates, an Asperger's child can learn better communication skills.

Mention that sometimes an Asperger’s student isn't as socially mature despite being the same age as his classmates. Emphasize how Asperger's kids want the same things other kids do, including being socially accepted by their peers. Suggest that your child befriend an Asperger's child and model age-appropriate social skills.

Offer ways your child can be supportive in helping a classmate with Asperger's practice her social skills. Your child can help the student practice appropriate social responses by role-playing or by bringing examples of behaviors she needs to learn to her attention.

Talk about how to help kids with Asperger's overcome their social awkwardness. Ask your child and his friends to include these students in playground games and activities, invite them to their tables at lunchtime and engage them in casual conversation. Explain that watching how other students interact with one another helps an Asperger’s child learn how to relate to others so that socializing and making friends becomes easier.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

Photo Credits

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