I’ve been lax about keeping up with this blog, but recently some resources were brought to my attention that might help autistic children, often the target of bullying. The information came from Elemy, “an innovative, tech-forward provider of in-home and online applied behavior analysis to help chidren on the autism spectrum meet their unique needs.” I felt, rather than provide a link, I’d take the liberty of reproducing the entire article below. Thanks to Jullieth Cragwell from Elemy for the information that follows here. Go to http://www.elemy.com for information on the organization and autism.

(Skip the PAGE TOPICS links, as they will take you a different site rather than to the pertinent section in the article.)

How to Deal With Bullying Targeting Autistic Children

UPDATED: JUNE 11, 2020


Family GuideGuide to Telemedicine & ABA TherapyFamily Guide7 Steps to Prevent Wandering in Autistic ChildrenFamily GuideAdvice for Siblings of Those With AutismFamily GuideHow to Best Handle Puberty in an Autistic Child

Every child deserves a safe, healthy place to study. Autism bullying makes that goal impossible to achieve. Unfortunately, it’s common. 

The Autism Society says students with autism are 63% more likely to be bullied than their neurotypical peers. 

The risk isn’t limited to children with high levels of autism severity.

Researchers say high-functioning children tend to interact with mainstream peers more frequently than other children with autism. This enhanced interaction makes their disability more visible, and it makes them a target. Children who can speak well are three times more likely to be bullied than those with poor or absent verbal skills. 

Parents and teachers play important roles in autism bullying prevention. While they must listen to and support the victims, they must also reach out to perpetrators. Plenty of children with autism bully others, so this issue must also be addressed.

What Is Bullying? 

Childhood is a time of experimentation. Children toy with their words, their actions, and their reactions. It’s common for them to harm one another as they determine what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Autism bullying is different. 

The Interactive Autism Network explains that all children have hurt feelings from time to time, and most would say their peers can be mean. But bullying is:

  • Repeated. The actions happen over and over again.
  • Targeted. The victim is specifically chosen for the attack.
  • About power. The bully wants to assert dominance over the victim.

Bullying can take many forms. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, and social exclusion are all common techniques used in classrooms all across the country. Some bullies take to the web, and they bully their victims through cruel social media posts, nasty text messages, or online rumors.

Is Your Child a Bully Target?

Bullying is associated with guilt. Some victims hide their abuse for fear of seeming weak or childish. The perpetrators reinforce the silence, and they often threaten consequences if children speak out. You may need to become a detective to help your child. 

The National Autistic Society says common autism bullying clues include:

  • Dishevelment. Your child may come home with dirty clothes, missing possessions, or bruises.
  • Lateness. Your child may try a different route to and from school to avoid the bullies.
  • Excuses. Your child may feign illness to stay away from school and social obligations.
  • Symptoms. Increased tantrums, stimming, or vocalization could be important clues.
  • Behavior shifts. Sleeping late, crying often, or yelling at family members could stem from bullying.

If you see these signs, start a conversation. Ask your child about:

  • Nicknames. Taunts could take the form of nasty nicknames.
  • Habits. Who does the child sit with at lunch? Or does the child sit alone?
  • Friends. Who would your child call a best friend? If the names change each week, ask why.
  • Classes and activities. What time of day does your child dislike most? That could be the time when bullying is most acute.

Deepen your investigation by asking your child’s teacher for help. Set up an appointment, and describe what you’ve uncovered so far. Ask what the teacher has seen. Does your child seem popular? Has the teacher seen bullying firsthand? Where does your child spend free time?

If the two of you determine that your child is dealing with autism bullying, it’s time to take action. 

Strategies to Reduce Autism Bullying

If your child is a bully target, take a three-pronged approach to address the problem. Start by working with your child. Then, get authority figures involved. Finally, talk with the bully’s parents about long-term prevention.

Bullies thrive in an environment of silence, anger, and fear. The more your child reacts to a taunt, the better a bully feels. The Autism Society recommends teaching your child the CALM strategy:

  • C: cool down. Spot signs of stress, and use deep breathing and positive value statements to combat them.
  • A: assertion. Use positive body language to express confidence. A therapist can be instrumental in teaching these skills.
  • L: look. Make eye contact with a bully. This behavior doesn’t come easily to all children with autism, but therapists can help.
  • M: mean it. Non-Confrontational phrases, such as “Stop that,” or “Leave me alone,” should enter your child’s vocabulary.

Some of these steps reduce bullying attempts. Others help to diffuse an attack already in progress. But they might not stop the problem altogether. 

Bullying is both damaging and serious. Don’t let it continue.

Anti-bullying advocates say all bullying episodes must be reported. Talk to:

  • Your child’s teacher. Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Bring along notes about the dates, times, locations, and people involved.
  • School administrators. If your teacher won’t take action, move up the chain of command. Talk with officials about your child’s safety.
  • Local police. If your child’s school won’t help, the authorities will.

Advocating for your child is critical. Parents who take these steps aren’t nags. They’re doing important work to keep their children safe. 

If you know the bully’s parents, bring them into the conversation. Some parents have no idea that their children are acting out at school, and they welcome the opportunity to intervene.

For example, some bullies act out due to poor verbal or social skills. Anger helps them cover up deficits. A child with autism might bully to fit in.

Experts suggest sending an email or calling the offender’s parents. Use a non-confrontational approach, and point out that you’d like to fix the problem collaboratively. Suggest a meeting in which you can share your observations and come up with a plan.

Is Your Child a Bully?

Experimentation and childhood go hand in hand. Children who bully aren’t doomed to a life of aggression. With your help, they can channel talents in a helpful direction. 

Bullies are often natural leaders. Find ways to help them use those skills in a new way. Encourage them to coach younger siblings in a sport, for example, or ask them to lend a hand with pet training. 

Develop an anti-bullying action plan with your child:

  • Analyze. Determine whom your child bullies and where.
  • Find major players. Who needs to change to make the activity stop? Who can help? Your child might need a doctor’s help if bullying stems from pain. Or a therapist might help if your child needs to enhance speech or empathy skills.
  • Define next steps. What parts of your child’s routines must change to enhance supervision and reduce bullying?
  • Set expectations. Tell your child that bullying is never accepted, and explain the steps you’re taking to make it stop.
  • Check in. Set a weekly meeting with your child, and ensure that these steps are working. If they aren’t, adjust the plan accordingly.

Reach out for help if you can’t stop the behavior alone. Some children with bullying habits have personality disorders, experts say, and they need to work with counselors to stop their habits for good. Children like this may lack innate empathy, and they simply don’t understand the impact of their actions. Counseling could be critical, so they change course early in life.

How Can Teachers Help?

Parents and children can take action to prevent bullying, but teachers also have a role to play. You’re on the front lines of child/child interactions, and you’re an important role model for your students. What you say and what you do matters. 

Experts say bullying episodes often happen in:

  • Bathrooms
  • Playgrounds
  • Crowded hallways
  • School buses

Your students may be angels while sitting at their desks, but they may show much different behaviors in these other spaces. Add them to your patrols if you can.

Intervene immediately if you see bullying. Don’t talk to the children together, experts say. Speak with them separately about what happened. Try to understand how the episode started, and support both the bully and the victim. Ask for your school counselor’s help if you’re not quite sure what to say. 

The more you know about bullying, the better. Researchers say teachers with high levels of knowledge about bullying intervene more often than teachers who don’t understand the concepts. If you need more help, ask your school to send you to training courses to beef up your expertise. 



Such a small act, but what a difference it can make.


Surprise! I’m still alive and kicking. And writing, although you wouldn’t know it to see how I’ve neglected this blog. Today, however, I ran across a video from Britain’s Got Talent that’s too good not to share. Hear it here and you can say you heard it when, because it won’t be long before this one is working its way up the charts. We can only hope bullies hear it and take the words, and the emotions behind them, to heart. Listen and be moved.


I have been contacted by a television executive at an award-winning production company in Los Angeles called Make It Happen Productions. According to company executive Natalie Kaldes, MIHP is currently casting for a television project with a celebrity seeking to help teenagers suffering from bullying. They are looking to identify an individual, preferably eighteen years old and still in high school, willing to talk about his or her experience and who is “interested in working with a World Champion athlete in building confidence through an athletic pursuit.” Currently they are only seeking teens living in California.

I checked out their website at www.mihp.tv and this appears to be a legitimate company, so I am spreading the word. Be sure, however, to do your own research.

If you or any individual you know would like to discuss this opportunity, you can reach executive MIHP, Natalie Kaldes, at 818-981-2327. And if you get the job and wind up being a star because you read it here, please let me know. I’ll have my fingers crossed for you.







This is a heads up to let you know that a blog called Find a Nanny has a good article on how to help if your teen is being cyberbullied, a method of bullying that can be difficult for parents to detect unless they’re carefully monitoring their teen’s use of social media. You can read this article at:  http://www.findananny.net/blog/what-parents-can-do-to-help-teen-victims-of-cyber-bullying/

Another site that mentions cyberbullying, but also offers general information on bullying, can be found at: http://www.kenneymyers.com/blog/the-bullying-epidemic-what-you-and-your-children-need-to-know/

Both sites are worth checking out.

And as we move from 2013 into 2014, we can only hope bullying will become less of a problem for people of all ages. It’s a problem that could easily be solved if–wherever a person goes–he or she would simply sow kindness.

Let’s make that a goal for each of us this coming year:




Morgan Frazier’s Video “Hey Bully”

Morgan Frazier

Many celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Adam Levine, Adam Lambert, Chris Colfer, and Ellen DeGeneres are stepping up to help stamp out bullying. What is surprising is how many were, themselves, the target of bullies. How fortunate they had the performing arts into which to channel their pain. In the following link, Morgan Frazier tells of her experience and sings her song “Hey Bully.”

(The video is unlisted, so you’ll have to click on the link to open the page.)

Morgan Frazier sings “Hey Bully”


Million Acts of Kindness busIn March of 2013, I introduced you to Bob Votruba, traveling the United States on his campaign to promote One Million Acts of Kindness, currently focusing on bullying and the suicide that sometimes results. This is a worthwhile goal, and one Mr. Votruba is dedicating ten years of his life and his resources to accomplishing. Here is his latest post, an update on how the tour’s  past four years have gone, along with a request.

What if everyone set a goal of performing one act of kindness day? What a difference that would make in this impersonal world. It might even save a life. Will you step up?


MN Children's Hospital

For anyone who wants to get involved with the fight against bullying and lives anywhere near Minnesota, here’s an event–designed to address bullying’s threat to Minnesota’s kids and the public health–you might want to attend. It seems especially important for those who understand that special needs or ailing children are very vulnerable to bullying.

According to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, “leading health care providers, education, student and parent organizations will gather to hear from a leading voice on the topic, have a conversation about the toll bullying takes on the health and well-being of children, and continue to evaluate their role in addressing it.

This event – “Breaking Down Bullying” – will include a keynote address and Q&A with best-selling author Emily Bazelon.  This event has been planned on the heels of Children’s recent bullying report, which found that while any child may be subject to and harmed by bullying, children who are sick or have special needs are especially vulnerable to bullying and may suffer setbacks in their health or development as a result.

Detailed information follows:



Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota hosts “Breaking Down Bullying,”

a conversation with The New York Times best-selling author Emily Bazelon



Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota will host “Breaking Down Bullying,” a conversation with The New York Times best-selling author Emily Bazelon.

The event follows the July 2013 release of “Understanding the Threat of Bullying,” Children’s in-depth report that explores the problem of bullying among Minnesota kids from a medical provider perspective. The report found that while any child may be subject to and harmed by bullying, children who are sick or have special needs are especially vulnerable and as a result, may suffer health or developmental setbacks.

“Understanding the Threat of Bullying” is the fourth report in Children’s Check-Ups, a series of in-depth reports designed to help Minnesota families and health care leaders better understand important issues related to children’s health. The event with author Emily Bazelon is an extension of that work intended to engage the broader child development community in a discussion about bullying.


Wednesday, September 11

  • 5:30 p.m.:  Doors open
  • 6 p.m.: Keynote address (with audience Q&A)
  • 7 – 8 p.m.: Panel discussion (small group)


  • Emily Bazelon, author of the new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy
  • Dr. Mike Troy, PhD, LP, medical director of behavioral health services at Children’s
  • Christina Wagner, teenager, bullying victim, co-chair of a student advocacy group at PACER


Minnesota Children’s Museum

10 W. 7th Street, St. Paul, Minnesota

 About Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota:

Serving as Minnesota’s children’s hospital since 1924, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health care organizations in the United States, with 381 staffed beds at its two hospitals in St. Paul and Minneapolis. An independent, not-for-profit health care system, Children’s of Minnesota provides care through more than 12,000 inpatient visits and more than 300,000 emergency room and other outpatient clinic visits every year. Children’s is the only Minnesota hospital system to provide comprehensive care exclusively to children. Please visit childrensMN.org.

About Emily Bazelon:

Emily Bazelon is the author of the new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. She is a senior editor at Slate, and a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. She is also a frequent guest on The Colbert Report and has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, Morning Joe, Fresh Air, Morning Edition and All Things Considered.


This sounds like a very worthwhile event. If you’re trying to make a difference in the fight against bullying, you might want to make an effort to attend.


Crying child

The following is a video that says more than I can say.


Bullying cartoon

Although I am not a fan of relying on the government to solve all society’s problems, I do believe that, because bullying has no place in our schools, it’s time for Congress to act.

Although some federal laws address particular kinds of harassment, there is no comprehensive law to address bullying and harassment. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (S. 403) would fill that troubling gap in federal education policy. S. 403 would ensure states, districts, and schools have policies to prevent and appropriately respond to bullying and harassment.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is supporting the passage of S. 403 and is making it simple for you to do the same. The bill is currently in committee and, according to www.govtrack.us, it has only a 2% chance of getting past committee and a 0% chance of being enacted. You can make a difference. Simply go the the AAUW website and enter your ZIP code. They’ll help you with the rest. And while you’re at it, read the association’s research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School.