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Friday, January 11, 2013

Study of Bullying

Nearly 70 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience emotional trauma as a result of being bullied, according to findings published today in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, while a significant portion were concerned for their own safety at school. The study also found that children with ASD who presented with pre-existing psychiatric diagnoses were at increased risk for involvement in bullying, with children diagnosed with ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression at highest risk of being victimized over a one month period. This study was led by researchers from the Interactive Autism Network, a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute that is the nation’s first online autism registry with participants from 47 states, making it the largest collection of autism data in the world.
“Recent research indicates that children receiving special education services are at risk of being victimized at higher rates than regular education students,” says Dr. Paul Law, senior study author and director of the Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger. “Our findings show that not only are these children being bullied more, but they are also experiencing significant short-term, and likely long-term, effects of being bullied.”
Participants in the study included parents of 1,221 children with ASD recruited through an online questionnaire. Researchers utilized the Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey, a 63-item questionnaire, to collect key data from parents regarding their child’s school environment, involvement in bullying, and the child’s educational and psychological functioning. Additionally, researchers used the Parent Observation of Child Adaptation (POCA) to reflect parents’ ratings of their child’s behaviors and level of psychological distress after a bullying incident. The study’s findings on the characteristics and psychiatric comorbidities most associated with bullying are below.