Autism and bullying

Dear Editor:
As students across New Jersey head back to school, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reveals disturbing news: 46 percent of students with autism spectrum disorders are bullied.
To parents and educators of these vulnerable – and delightful – young people, the findings are not a surprise. Because of their social disabilities, children with autism are often alienated in public schools and mainstream classrooms. Outside of a teacher’s watchful supervision, they are quick and easy targets.
Research tells us that victims of bullying experience depression, school phobia and poor academic outcomes.
Efforts to include students with disabilities in public schools, especially those with “invisible” social disabilities such autism and Aspergers syndrome, must address this crisis in a more proactive manner.

Geraldine Gibbia, Executive Director
The Phoenix Center

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