Autism Bullying Remains a Problematic Issue

Several news stories have emerged in the past few days, underscoring the troubling and persistent issue of bullying regularly endured by those with autism and other special needs.

In Kansas, 22-year-old AJ Alexander was attacked outside of a Starbucks, leaving him shaken up and with a black eye. The unprovoked assault occurred as Alexander was listening to music and minding his own business. His father says the suspect emerged out of nowhere and attacked his son and cannot say for certain if Alexander, who has autism, was singled out or if the attack was random.

Additionally, in Ohio, 20-year-old Braxton Devault suffered a beating at a bus stop as he waited to be transported to his vocational school. Devault suffers from both autism and epilepsy and believes he blacked out and had a seizure during the attack. His mother is now pleading for the bully to be expelled from school.

As troubling as these incidents may be, they are only the tip of the iceberg and a microcosm of what plays out around the country on a daily basis. Harassment, teasing, bullying and physical attacks are all-too-common for those with autism, particularly those who are high functioning.

Despite greater awareness, bullying remains problematic and while much has been done to address the issue, there are additional steps that need to be taken to ensure children with special needs are protected.

Since parents cannot be with their kids all of the time, advocacy needs to begin with fellow students and neurotypical peers. 

As we reported last year, a heartening story involved a fourth grader who launched an anti-bullying campaign after witnessing his fellow classmate with autism picked on during recess. The story was covered nationally and the boy’s efforts were lauded as an excellent example for other students around the country to follow.

It would be nice to see some follow through on this initiative on a larger scale to ensure we’re doing all we can to protect children and young adults with autism from the kinds of incidents that have occurred during the last few days.

6 Responses to Autism Bullying Remains a Problematic Issue

  1. Tonya Ebersbach says:

    Our kids with autism and other disabilities are definitely being a target,and stricter discipline is needed for the kids who want to bully.I have a son who has autism and the struggles he faces on a daily basics,as a parent we can’t be there all the time.Our schools need to come up with a program to get other kids involved to educate them on children with disabilities,then maybe these bullies will stop taking their attitudes out on the weak and learn to work beside them instead of against them.Also parents of these bullies need to get involved in what’s going on cause usually kids that bully ,it usually starts at home .

  2. This Mother needs to take the bull by the horns, thats right take the child, his parents and the school to court! We have got to let people know we are not going to take this bulling and hurting of our kids with autism!
    If it takes the courts well just bring it on! If I see anyone touching a special needs child the cops will be there fast. The school must to something about assault on their property and the parents and child must NOT just go free! I faced up to bullys all my life and I will do it until the day I die! A grandfather with non-verbal autistic grandson!!

  3. outoutout says:

    As an outwardly shy and socially awkward girl (later diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome in adulthood), you can bet I was an easy target for bullies all through my school years. People used to say things like “grow a thicker skin”, “learn to fight”, “learn to stand up for yourself”…well, my anxiety was so overwhelming that I’d begin to shake and eventually become involuntarily mute. Which only made things worse. So yeah, I get it. Totally.

    It’s nice to see a lot of anti-bullying “awareness” these days, but honestly, it’s not going to solve the problem. You see, bullies almost never see themselves as bullies. In their minds, they’re “just kidding”, “just playing around”, etc. Additionally, kids who are being bullied don’t want to see themselves as victims, because in their minds that means they’re weak and wimpy – especially if they already have a disability like ASD. And teachers/adults in charge either can’t tell the difference or can’t be bothered.

    Telling kids not to bully is a waste of time. We need to teach everyone involved how to recongise it and counteract it. Especially the teachers and administration. It can’t be a burden strictly for the peers and parents. Going to court may be necessary, but it should never be the first course of action.

  4. concern in ohio says:

    NOTE: this is the 2nd time this kid has attacked this boy at school.the attacker is awhere of the autism boy. and the family is aware of it too. i think it is time for courts to be involved…the boy has a anger issue that needs to be addressed.

  5. Molly says:

    I am a high school student with high functioning autism and aspergers syndrome. I think there needs to be more done to protect others that have autism from bullying. I`m very sorry it happend to that kid.

  6. Adam says:

    It’s a problem in far more places than just schools. On 9/20/2010, I was minding my own business waiting for a bus to go home after the library in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio closed. I got assaulted just for ignoring a couple of guys I had no obligation to answer. Now I live in Santa Ana, California, but here, I don’t know how much longer I can feel safe ALWAYS being alone when waiting for buses. No matter where I am, I REFUSE to answer anyone other than law enforcement when I am waiting for buses. If you are not law enforcement, and you persist when I ignore you, I will aim my pepper spray, and if you throw a punch or display any weapons, I WILL spray! If I gotta spend the night in jail, so be it. I’ll be notorious for provoking people and defending myself, and autism IS a valid excuse for it!

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
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  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
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