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Autism Spectrum Disorders May Lead to More Bullying

A new study shows that children with autism spectrum disorder may be the perfect target for bullies. The study, unveiled this week at the International Society for Autism Research's national meeting in San Diego, compared the experiences of bullying and victimization in a group of 11- to 18-year-olds with Asperger's syndrome or High Functioning Autism to children the same age who had a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Go here and look for the abstract on page 514 of the 2011 booklet.)

The study also included a control group of kids without any diagnosed disability.

The 70 students filled out a questionnaire to assess their experiences with being a victim and bullying others. Parents were also asked to report the frequency and types of bullying behavior experienced by their child that they knew about.

Among other things, the study found that the adolescents with some form of autism were bullied more than typical adolescents or adolescents with a learning disability or ADHD. In particular, these students reported being physically bullied or isolated socially.

The researchers concluded that these students were more likely victims because of their impairments in social interaction and "emotional competency." There are more details in the study in this piece from U.S. News & World Report.

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