Autism Society Northwestern Pennsylvania is extremely disturbed by the recent video that has surfaced on numerous social media platforms.  We do not condone bullying of anyone including those on the autism spectrum and/or with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Today, bullying is a national epidemic causing significant concern for parents and caregivers. Media reports show widespread examples of victimization suffered by individuals of all ages and ability levels.  Bullying is a behavior that hurts, harms, or humiliates. Whether physically or emotionally, it can happen while at school, in the community, or online.  Those bullying often have more social or physical “power,” while those targeted have difficulty stopping the behavior.

Although only ten U.S. studies have been conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities, all of these studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. (Disabilities: Insights from Across Fields and Around the World; Marshall, Kendall, Banks & Gover (Eds.), 2009.)

According to a study by Interactive Autism Network, 63% of individuals with autism ages 6 to 15 have been bullied at some point in their lives.

Adults are in no way immune to the problem. Increased use of social media, cell phones, and email have altered the bullying landscape.  The National Crime Prevention Council reports 43% of teens have been cyberbullied by text messaging and social media. Easy access to cell phones and social media platforms has resulted in viral video clips of horrific bullying incidents.  No matter how benign the intent – it is the responsibility of every individual to reject bullying in all its forms. Effects are far-reaching; violence and intimidation cause harm to victims leaving support systems to cope with the aftermath.

The Autism Society is here to empower individuals on the autism spectrum and support their families to take a stand against bullying.  A useful resource, developed by the Educational Development Center, Inc., is available to provide successful bullying prevention that may be accessed on our website.  Two additional resources are available to provide insight into the implications of bullying and its residual impact on victims are 3 R’ for Bullying Prevention: Recognizing, Respond and Report and Healing from Bullying for the individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Autism Society is committed to promoting awareness and understanding about the dangers of bullying and helping all affected by autism to combat its existence once and for all.

As a community, we must come together to promote awareness, understanding, and acceptance.

Eyes on Bullying Toolkit
RESOURCES:  Bullying Prevention excerpts from Autism Society of America