Combating Bullying

It has been suggested that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are especially vulnerable to bullying. The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) is now sharing initial results of a national survey on the bullying experiences of children on the autism spectrum. The findings show that children with ASD are bullied at a very high rate, and are also often intentionally “triggered” into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by ill-intentioned peers.

The study found that a total of 63% of 1,167 children with ASD, ages 6 to 15, had been bullied at some point in their lives.

Click here to read the IAN report.


New! A New Study from the IAN Finds Bullying Causes Significant Short-Term Emotional And Physical Consequences For Children With Autism

Click here to read the new study.

Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit

Autism Speaks is excited to be working with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, PACER’s National Bullying Center and Ability Path in partnership with the new documentary film BULLY to raise awareness about how bullying affects children with special needs.


Visit to learn more, and find out what you can do to help our children live in a bully free world.

Together with our partners, we just released a Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit, full of resources and information specifically tailored to parents, educators, and students dealing with bullying and children with special needs.


Below is an excerpt from the Toolkit:


Top Ten Facts Parents, Educators and Students Need to Know:

1. The Facts - Students with disabilities are much more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.
2. Bullying affects a student's ability to learn.
3. The Definition - bullying based on a student's disability may be considered harassment.
4. The Federal Laws - disability harassment is a civil rights issue.
5. The State Laws - students with disabilities have legal rights when they are a target of bullying.
6. The adult response is important.
7. The Resources - students with disabilities have resources that are specifically designed for their situation.
8. The Power of Bystanders - more than 50% of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes.
9. The importance of self-advocacy.
10. You are not alone.


Click here to read the Toolkit!



Taking Action

Getting started is as easy as writing a letter to your child's teacher, or asking your Principal to post your school's anti-bullying policy in public places around the school building. It could mean talking to your child about how he or she has experienced bullying, or reading about the roles of bullying and identifying your personal place in the cycle of bullying. Every step towards a bully free world will help a child with special needs live free from fear and torment.


BULLY: A Documentary

BULLY is a powerful documentary directed by Lee Hirsch that follows the lives of five students who face bullying on a daily basis. This movie, rated PG-13, opened in select theatres March 30th, 2012, and had a great premier in New York and Los Angeles. In fact, it had the strongest opening weekend of any documentary film so far this year. That’s a powerful kickoff for this great movement we’re building together.

The Bully Project highlights solutions that both address immediate needs and lead to systemic change. Starting with the film’s STOP BULLYING. SPEAK UP! call to action, The Bully Project will catalyze audience awareness to action with a series of tools and programs supported by regional and national partners.


Autism Speaks