Tips to Prevent Bullying

It’s unfortunate that we hear about bullying so frequently in the media today. For parents who have children with special needs, it’s even more troubling when our kids are subjected to bullying; we may not be aware of these horrible actions until our child begins exhibiting the symptoms of bullying, which may include increased anxiety, anger, depression, and not eating or sleeping—just to name a few. Bullies often target people who are perceived to be different from others. The difference does not have to be obvious. While children with autism or kids who use wheelchairs may have more noticeable differences from others, children who have less distinguishable differences—such as a child who has a peanut or milk allergy—may also be bullied. Kids who have “theory of mind” challenges are particularly vulnerable to bullying. This arises because the child has difficulty understanding the bully’s intentions. Furthermore, autistic children have difficulty reading body language and picking up on social cues, which also increases their vulnerability.

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