"It's a huge issue for many families," said Connie Anderson, community scientific liaison for the Interactive Autism Network. "Part of the reason the children are so vulnerable is that the heart of autism is a social disability. It's really hard for them to read the social world, to interpret what's going on, to make an appropriate response, something most people do naturally."
Although bullying occurs in every grade, it peaks in grades 5 through 8, and it takes many forms, the survey found. Many children were teased or made fun of; ignored or left out of things on purpose; called bad names; or pushed, shoved, hit, slapped or kicked. Experts noted that school is already hard for these kids, and bullying can make it that much more difficult for them to get what they need out of school. That includes academics, but also being in an environment where they can learn more about how to socialize.
Some parents said their children were purposefully provoked into a meltdown. In Abby's case, other kids would hide an item that was important to her, leading Abby to become increasingly upset until she fell apart, her mom said.
And some kids with autism are themselves labeled as bullies, even though experts believe autistic kids aren't intentionally mean, Anderson said.
"What we think is happening is that other kids are pushing their buttons, and they're having aggressive outbursts or temper tantrums," she said.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder also don't know how to tell "social lies." The autistic child might come rig
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