Autism After 16 Blog on Bullying Stirs Reader Response

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Autism After 16 columnist Julie van der Poel attacks the subject of bullying in her most recent column, "Eyes Wide Open," prompting readers to share their stories.

Teen boy cowering as bully approaches.

Preliminary research indicates that autistic children and teens are likely to be bullied at a much higher rate than their typical peers.

"As a mother of a teen with ASD, this strikes such a chord. I can so empathize with your situation as my son was attacked in middle school on his way to public transportation," writes a reader.

A new column about bullying on the website Autism After 16 has touched a nerve with readers. In the essay, "Eyes Wide Open," writer Julie van der Poel shares the story of her autistic son's experience as a victim of violence. Readers have been quick to respond with their own accounts of autistic children and teens being bullied, often to the point of physical assault.

"As a mother of a teen with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], this strikes such a chord," writes one reader. "I can so empathize with your situation as my son was attacked in middle school on his way to public transportation. You try to prepare them for all possible events, but can't predict everything." Another reader comments that her autistic son was beaten so often in a public school setting that the family relocated.

As social scientists begin to research bullying and autism, preliminary findings indicate that autistic people are more likely to be targeted by bullies than their typical peers. A report from Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network (IAN) states, “Bullying is extremely common in the lives of children with ASD, and occurs at a much higher rate for them than it does for their typically developing siblings … Cruelest of all is the fact that bullying may further impair the ability of a child with ASD, who is already socially disabled, to engage with the social world.”

Julie van der Poel writes on the topic of Transition issues for Autism After 16. Her columns have focused on her son's journey through the special education system, her family's efforts to prepare him for adulthood, and most recently, his experiences in a youth employment program.

Autism After 16 is a website devoted to providing information and analysis of adult autism issues. Over 50 percent of its contributing writers are autistic adults, while many others are family members. In addition to opinion pieces, Autism After 16 provides informational articles on accessing adult services, links to useful resources, and a library of videos to help teach independent living skills.

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Merope Pavlides
Autism After 16
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