MONDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of U.S. children with an autism spectrum disorder are victims of bullying, a new study finds.
"The rate of bullying victimization among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder is alarmingly high, indicating a profound public health problem in the United States," said lead researcher Paul Sterzing, an assistant professor at the School of Social Welfare of the University of California, Berkeley.
Bullying among children and adolescents is common, and it's often the most vulnerable children who become targets, the researchers added.
Sterzing's team found that about 46 percent of teens with an autism spectrum disorder had been bullied -- a much higher rate than the national average of less than 11 percent for other teens.
One expert wasn't surprised by the finding.
"This study confirms what we know," said Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami and associate director of the school's Mailman Center for Child Development. "It's clear that kids with disabilities are much more likely to be victims of bullying," he said. "We need to figure out better ways to prevent this -- for all children."
For the study, Sterzing's team used information from 920 parents of adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder. Data came from a long-term national U.S. study of adolescents receiving special education services in grades 7 through 12 in December 2000. It also included 13- to 16-year olds in ungraded programs.
The bullies among these teens (15 percent) and those who had histories of being both both bully and victim (9 percent) were about the same as the national average for non-autistic children, the researchers noted.
Some of the most common factors of the victims of bullying included having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), poor social skills and taking mor
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