People with disabilities are victims of violent crime three times as often as people without disabilities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not report separately on autistic victims, but it does note that the victimization rate is especially high among those whose disabilities are cognitive. A small-sample study of Americans and Canadians found that adults with autism face a greater risk of sexual victimization than their peers. Autistic respondents were more than twice as likely to say that had been the victim of rape and over three times as likely to report unwanted sexual contact.
A release from Vanderbilt University Medical Center:
A recent study by Vanderbilt researchers of 11 counties in Middle Tennessee revealed that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were nearly 2.5 times more likely than children without ASD to be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by the age of 8.
The study, led by researchers from Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), examined the entire population of Middle Tennessee residents born in 2008 and compared their records through 2016. Using data collected through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, 387 children out of the population of 24,306 were identified as having a diagnosis of ASD.
More than 17 percent of those identified with ASD had been reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by 2016, compared to 7.4 percent of children without ASD. Additionally, females with ASD were six times more likely to have substantiated allegations of maltreatment than males with ASD.Zachary Warren, PhD
According to Warren, children with ASD may be particularly vulnerable to maltreatment due to a variety of factors, including the presence of challenging behavior and complex cognitive and language impairments, increased caregiver stress, lower levels of family social support and higher rates of caregiver isolation and dependence.
Children with autism are also more likely to regularly work with a team of providers who may be paying closer attention than they would to children without ASD, though data from this study can’t confirm or deny these hypotheses.