A topic most people have heard about, especially lately with how many stories circulate in the media about teens committing suicide from being bullied.
A topic very close to a lot of people. Ones who have been on the recieving end of it more times than one can count.
A topic that happens to make those with disabilities a very easy target.
Especially for those with autism.
An invisible disability that causes a lack of social cues, lack of awareness, and more naive than the average person.
A neurological disorder that causes a person to be unaware of the fact that their actions can be deemed weird by those that don’t understand.
A simple lack of understanding the world around them causing them to be an easy target.
So how can one with autism handle going through school dealing with bullies? How can one with autism work and dealing with discrimination despite the laws against it in the workplace?
This is where I will discuss those and try to help find ways to handle discrimination on any level.
Bullying At School
Students on the spectrum lack social cognition and ability to take others perspective making them prime targets. The result can be very profound and debilitating for those being bullied.
The different types of bullying are as follows:
- Manipulative: child is coerced and controlled to do something against their nature
- Conditional Friendship: friendship alternated with bullying behavior
- Explotive: features of a child’s condition are used to bully via technology/social media
Forms of Bullying
What people don’t realize, myself included, is bullying takes on multiple forms. But we don’t hear about anything except physical and cyber bullying and don’t realise the other forms are actually considered bullying.
The different forms of bullying are as follows:
- Verbal Agression: name calling/taunting
- Social exclusion/isolation
- Physical agression
- Racial bullying
- Sexual bullying
- Cyber bullying
- Spreading lies/false rumors
- Having money/possesions taken
- Being threatened or forced to do things by aggressor
I have dealt with about half this list during my years in school and a few of these still carried over into the workplace, but that is a discussion for later in this post.
All of this list is ways people on the spectrum don’t realise are actually bullying.
For me, and I am sure I speak on behalf of those with autism, if someone spoke to me at school, even if they treated me terribly, I considered them a “friend” because I didn’t know any better.
The people I considered friends never did anything to help when the bullying happened right in front of them. Teachers never did crap.
I was left to fend for myself.
Sadly, I developed anxiety and depression over the years from all the torment I dealtwith from the time I was 11.
It has been proven through many studies thaf I saw through many days of research on autism, that anxiety and depression become more prevalent when bullying or mistreatment of any kind happens.
Its very sad that this happens. But its the reality of it. A reality that needs to change.
But how can one help if they aren’t even involved in the bullying itself?
Well there are many ways. And honestly, there are many people that are involved in the situation.
The people involved in bullying
There are so many indidviduals that are involved in bullying that not many people realise it.
The following are a list of those involved:
- The bully
- The victim
- The bystanders
- Teachers and other professionals
- Administrators, legislators, and policy makers
All of these people have a say in each case of bullying.
Which leads to how can one tell when someone is being bullied.
The Signs of Bullying
This list is what to look out for in case you are suspicious your child is dealing with bullying:
- Reluctance to attend school
- Emotionally sensitive behavior: anxiety
- Change in daily routines: diet and sleeping patterns
- Torn clothing, damages clothes or other items
- Cuts or bruises
- Decline in academic performace
Now time to talk about how bullying and disabilities is truly a thing that needs to end.
An article I read that I got all this information from, the first link at the end of the post, did a study and the results are sad and sickening.
Chilredn with disabilities are two to three times more likely to bullied.
Children who are on the spectrum are even more likely because of their communication skills, motor skills, and social cognition.
With that being said, institutions are a double edged sword. On one side, it helps those with autism learn how to handle people. The flip side is it makes them an easy target to be bullied.
A survey in 2009 was conducted, asking parents their thoughts on their child with autism and how bullying affected them.
- 65% reported their child with Asperger’s had been vicitmized in the past year
- 47% reported being hit by peers or siblings
- 50% reported being scared by peers
- 9% reported being attacked by a gang and hurt in private parts
- 12% had a child not invited to a birthdau party
- 6% picked last for teams
- 3% ate alone at lunch everyday
Ways to Prevent Bullying (dos and don’ts)
There are many things that will and won’t work on how to handle preventing bullying.
Ways that Work
- School climate change
- Safe ways to report
- Focus on all types of bullying
- Peer support networks
- Focus on rolw of bystanders
- Adults model supportive relationships
- Active parent involvment
Ways that Don’t Work
- Individual counseling
- Accepting bullying as normal
- Focusing on only physical aggression
- Zero tolerance policies
- Isolated events (lectures)
- Stigmatizing victims
- Adults modeling intimidation, anger, power
Now comes the topic where all this kiddos on the spectrum will have to deal with once they are old enough.
A topic that onlt gets talked about for men and women being equal in this environment.
Not those with disabilities.
Originally, I wasn’t going to add this topic in here. But over the course of the year, I’ve dealt with some form of it that I felt it necessary to talk about it.
Its a topic that needs to be discussed. And the surprising amount of people that deal with disability discrimination is crazy. Especially with the study I researched for those that have autism.
A study and poll were done by the National Autism Society(NAS) to showcase how bad this is.
More than 1/3 of adults with autism have been bullied or discriminated against at work. The survey done on this condition was the largest ever, showing how much it can affect someone on the spectrum.
According to a poll done by NAS, 43% said they left or lost a job because of their autism.
43% of people with autism in this poll alone. The numbers are definitely higher, considering there are many unreported cases.
With these findings, NAS highlights the lack of support for people with autism in the workplace and the lack of awareness of the condition among employers and colleagues.
A poll for the charity’s 50th birthday back in 2012 found only 10% of adults with autism in paid employment recieve support from their employers, while 53% say they would like it.
This charity wants employers to support employees with autism so that they have the opportunity to makea valuable contribution to society like everyone else.
David Perkins, manager of Prospects, the NAS’s employment service, talks about the discrimination and bullying that happens when those with autism aren’t hired.
In a nutshell, he says “employers are failing to put a reasonable support in place to keep adults with autism in work and off benefits.” He also wants “employers to make sure their offices have an ‘autism-friendly’ ethos, otherwise we risk failing thousands of willingand able workers.”
Those on the spectrum who were employeed gave their insight.
32% said the support or adjustments made bt their employer or manager related to their autism were poor.
30% complained the support or adjustments had been poor.
38% said the suitability of the work environment in relation to their autism was poor.
19% said they had no experience of bullying, unfairness, or lack of support at work.
For me, management where I work has been fantastic at being able to allow me whatever I need for my autism. They understand I sometimes need to walk away and have time to deal with my issues when they arise.
Its the work environment and colleagues I have that make it hard for me.
One woman from London, Valerie Carlin, had been recently diagnosed with autism at the time the article was written where I recieved this information. She had been out of work for 3 years from leaving her career because of bullying at work.
She was socially excluded, ignored, and no one would try to give her any work to do no matter how good at the job she was.
So, now that you have all that information, what are ways to help prevent workplace bullying and discrimination?
Trying to find to information on how to handle it was basically nonexistent.
Every site I went to was either talking about how companies in America have to follow the American Disability Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which both are supposed to protect those with disabilities in the workplace in all levels of government, or personal stories of how those with autism were affected when coming out as autistic to their employers.
Most, if not all, stories had negative results when they made the move to say they had autism. Most aren’t able to move up the professional ladder because of it, which brings up two very valid points that were brought up.
Why does the media get involved in bad mouthing and spreading lies about autism and why does this have to affect those with autism trying to be open about wanting to break the stigma?
Questions that the answers cab only be hypothesized about and onlt time will tell when things will change for the better.
Sadly, workplace discrimination is harder to deal with than school bullying, but both are always going to be a challenge.
I just hope one day the stigma can go away and the equallity for those with disabilities will be available.