Bullying is a bad trait that has been in existence for a long time. It involves the use of force, coercion to abuse, intimidation, or attempts to forcefully dominate others. Children are young, energetic and reckless by nature. It is not uncommon for some kids who find themselves more superior in strength and size to pick on those smaller and weaker to them. However, there are children who would possibly bully another child who is not only weaker physically, but also mentally.
If your child is a special child and you are worried about his/her reception at school, do not feel bad about it. You are not the only one that feels that way.
It is only normal for a parent to worry about how their child will be treated at school. Most parents of special children (like autistic children or those suffering from Down’s syndrome) are very well aware that their children are susceptible to mental taunts and physical attacks.
Unlike other children who are able to convey their feelings and experiences, an autistic child is unable to communicate, and therein lies the greatest problem of all. Research shows that autistic children are bullied at least four times as often as their non-autistic counterparts. An autistic child finds it extremely difficult to recognize social cues. They tend to act awkwardly around other children. Autistic children also exhibit bizarre repetitive behaviors. They tend to be hypersensitive to external stimuli. These traits render autistic children to be prone to bullies who enjoy aggravating and exploiting their victims.
So what should you do to protect your child from bullying and ensure his/ her safety and mental well-being? Well, there are a number of ways in which you could go about it.
A close supervision is paramount. It is not easy to have your child looked after for every second he/she spends in the school compound. Perhaps, you could establish a close relationship with some of the school teachers and matrons to help you keep an eye on your kid. Having eyes on your kids will go a very long way. You will not only know how your child is treated at school, it would also discourage other children from bullying your child. Other children would know that your kid has someone constantly watching over him/her.
This responsibility falls solely on the school. Most adults do not even know what Autism Spectrum Disorder is. How do you expect developing children who are just getting familiar with the ways of the world to understand ASD? A proper orientation will go a very long way. Most children do not believe that other children can be suffering from a mental condition at all. They simply believe that such child is stupid, dim or simply awkward.
With proper education and orientation, children will understand that these special children should be treated with patience and care rather than hostility and aggression.
The bullies themselves should be counseled. The irony of it all is that most bullies are actually victims themselves. There is a variety of reasons why children bully. It may be because of low self-esteem, or perhaps lack of empathy. It might be as a result of an experience in the past in which they have no way to deal with so they simply take it out on frailer children. Perhaps, it might also be because of the fear of being left out if they do not join in.
Whatever the reason may be, it is up to the school counselor to counsel such children and inform them of the school’s policy against bullying.
Friendships will help to grow respect and acceptance among children. However, autistic children have a hard time making friends. Schools could act as guides to help autistic children achieve this goal. Non-autistic children could be taught on how to reach through to their autistic counterparts, possibly through group works or other specially structured activities.