In the past 16 years, I have met with many parents and there is a common concern they have shared with me, which is whether their children will become the target of bullying.
Some of our students in our center have encountered different levels of bullying, such as being called names, false accusations, or goaded into engaging in rule violating or socially inappropriate behaviors. Research suggests that bullies tend to choose victims who do not get supports from classmates.
Due to their differences in behaviors, interests or even appearance, children with ASD easily become the targets for bullying. They may not understand what a bullying situation is, and fail to protect themselves due to the lack of social and communication skills. Some may not even be aware that they are being bullied and see the bullies as friends.
Traditional strategies tend to encourage the victim to report to teachers, principal or any adult who can provide protection so the bullies can get punished. However, reporting may result in the bullies going “underground.” Another approach is to teach the victim to simply ignore the bully so the bully does not find it fun anymore. However, even though the victim ignores the bully, the peers may not. The bully may still get attention from the peers and continue the bullying. Also, it is very difficult to ignore undesirable behaviors, a victim’s deliberate and obvious attempts not to pay attention can serve as a sufficient reaction for the bully.
In our center, we spend a lot of time teaching our students appropriate social skills in order to improve their social competency. We will teach our students the following skills to deal with bullying incidents and avoid further bullying:
Differentiate Bullying VS. TeasingChildren with ASD find it difficult to interpret and often misread the motives of actions of others. It is important for them to determine whether they are being a target of bullying or it’s just some plays between friends.
Stay Away From the BullyDevelop a strategy of avoidance is another option. Making attempts to stay away from the bully during breaks, lunch or other times may be helpful in reducing unpleasant encounters.
Understanding BullyingHelp the victim in understanding that bullies are seeking responses from him/her. Therefore the victim needs to change his/her typical responses, so the bully no longer gets the pleasure from bullying.
Also, help students with ASD to understand which of his/her own behaviors (e.g. self-stim or talking contents) would trigger a bully, and teach him/her to refrain from engaging in those behaviors to reduce the bullying.
Stress ManagementTeach the victim various coping and relaxation strategies to reduce their overreaction. Anxiety and stress can worsen a bad situation. Teach them how to stay calm will help them to deal with the situation better.
Info Provided by:
Kan Wong (M.S. ABA, BCBA) Autism Partnership Behavioral Consultant
Ms. Lai-Kan Wong is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis. She joined Autism Partnership in 2001 and began working as a Program Specialist. She is experienced in working with children across different settings including individual therapy session, small group training, and ABA classrooms. Ms. Wong has also helped training staff in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan office since 2005. She is now responsible for supervising individual cases, staff training, parent training, and overseas consultation. Kan also receives ongoing training and supervision from Dr. Ronald Leaf and Dr. John McEachin in the Los Angeles office.
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Learn more about our ABA Services[:zh]在過去16年工作的日子，我遇過很多不同的家長，和他們面談時，他們往往也會表達一件很擔心的事，就是自己的子女會成為被欺凌的目標。
資訊提供: 王勵勤 (Autism Partnership行為分析治療顧問)
王勵勤小姐為國際認證行為分析師，擁有行為分析的碩士學位。於2001年加入AP, 為個別個案進行ABA訓練。 她經驗豐富且資歷甚廣， 負責個別治療、小組訓練及 ABA為基礎的教室。 自2005年起， 她致力培訓本地、新加坡及日本各級別的治療師及導師。 她現負責監督個別個案、治療師培訓、為各家長提供支援及海外諮詢服務。 她亦定期赴美國洛杉磯總部接受Ronald Leaf博士和John McEachin博士的培訓及持續進修。