Bullies Who Bully People with Special Needs

cute girl in wheelchair playing with developing toy in kindergarten for children with special needs

For months, I’ve wanted to speak out about people with autism and other neurological disorders and the extremely high rates of victimization and bullying they endure.

It’s bad enough that they must go through life struggling with a disability that they neither asked for nor have any control over. Even worse, they also struggle with constant cruelty from people in the general population because of that disability.

“A new study finds that children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied for more often than their typically developing peers.” (healthland.time.com)

According to Time Magazine (the above link), 46% of children on the spectrum reported being bullied compared to only 10% of neurotypical kids.

And the statistics are estimated to be even higher due to either being nonverbal and the inability to read social cues and, therefore, recognize the subtler forms of abuse. No one can report anything they do not know is occurring.

Because of their difficulty reading social cues, having repetitive behaviors, and being highly sensitive to external stimuli, bullies quickly zero in on these perceived weaknesses and see these people as easy prey who are ripe for harassment and degradation. Those with special needs are targeted because of their extreme vulnerability and inability to assert and defend themselves. In the minds of bullies, people with special needs are easy prey.

Special education words on cork background

Bullies get a rush out of the power they wield over their special needs victims because they consciously know they can torment them endlessly and with impunity. They also know that the chances are that no one will stop the abuse nor speak out for the victim because the sad reality is that most others do not see those who have special needs as “human.” Therefore, bullies take full advantage.

Anyone who intentionally targets a person with special needs is, in my opinion, a coward of the lowest common denominator. Too afraid to go toe to toe with someone of their equal, they seek out victims who cannot speak for or defend themselves!

Every day, mentally disabled people have Autism/Asperger’s or Down’s Syndrome are accosted, taunted, physically attacked, or even murdered because they are considered different and to be easy targets. Laws must be firmly put in place to protect these people, who are unable to defend themselves. Any crime against people in the above categories should be considered a hate crime because of the high vulnerability and severe disadvantage compared to neurotypical people, which equals a clear-cut imbalance of power.

It’s discrimination, any way you look at it, and just as horrible as bullying someone due to age, sex, race, religion, or orientation. Besides, most people in the other five groups have the facilities to speak for and defend themselves. They can demand equal treatment. People with special needs can’t, which is why we MUST make those with special needs a protected group!

The neurologically challenged are already fighting a very tough and likely, lifelong battle. Why do those who are more fortunate wish to make their lives much more complicated than they already are?

23 thoughts on “Bullies Who Bully People with Special Needs

  1. Individuals who prey on people with special needs are very twisted and I wonder if it might not be possible that their future home will be hotter than most?

  2. I once heard this story about a boy with autism getting bullied by his teacher, and she got her class in on it. She had each of her non-disabled students take turns telling the rest of the class what they don’t like about him. I don’t know how it got out. Maybe one of his classmates told someone, or maybe he had enough communication ability to tell his parents what happened. But I do remember that the story made it on the news. I’m pretty sure she was fired after that.

    • That’s horrible. I’ve seen a few teachers do that too. Back when I was in school, nothing was done about it. I’m so glad that teacher was fired! She should’ve been prosecuted and had her teaching license revoked.

  3. Autism spectrum disorder accompanied by notable adverse childhood experience trauma — e.g. unhindered chronic bullying — can readily lead to chronic substance abuse as a form of self-medicating. If the adolescent is also highly sensitive, both the drug-induced euphoria and, conversely, the come-down effect or return to their burdensome reality will be heightened thus making the substance-use more addicting.

    As a highly sensitive child, teenager and adult with ASD—an official condition with which I greatly struggled yet of which I was not even aware until I was a half-century old—compounded by a high ACE score, I largely learned this for myself from my own substance (ab)use experience. The self-medicating method I utilized during most of my pre-teen years, however, was eating.

    Resultantly, I strongly feel that not only should all school teachers have received ASD training, but that there should further be an inclusion in standard high school curriculum of a child development course which in part would also teach students about the often-debilitating condition.

    It would explain to students how, among other aspects of the condition, people with ASD (including those with higher functioning autism) are often deemed willfully ‘difficult’ and socially incongruent — and mistreated accordingly — when in fact such behavior is really not a choice. Maybe as a result, students with ASD feel compelled to “camouflage,” a term used to describe their attempts at appearing to naturally fit in, which is known to cause their already high anxiety and/or depression levels to worsen.

    Perhaps not surprising, I have yet to find a blog that dares to delve into (what I call) the very problematic perfect storm of psychological/emotional dysfunction — i.e. a debilitating combination of ASD and significant ACE trauma (and perhaps even high sensitivity) that results in substance abuse.

    • Thank you for your wonderful comment. I’ve known people with ASD and they were bullied too. My heart goes out to them and yes. The ACE’s only exacerbate and drive one even deeper into depression and self-medicating. I’m so sorry you were treated so badly. Know that none of it was you fault and you’re among friends here.

      • Thank you for your kind reply. As for the treatment I personally received, it could have been a lot worse. I ended up befriending a couple of town tough-guys whose attitude was passed onto me, leaving me (I believe) able to mostly fend for myself as I aged. Unfortunately, my childhood nonetheless left me a bit angry.

        As for young ASD people, I believe that defeating stereotypes of ASD people through school-assigned literature makes the most sense (and exhibits compassion, in my view).

        When it comes to students learning neural diversity, however, I doubt it will be seriously discussed by school-curriculum decision-makers any time soon. Nonetheless, I’m hoping that will change within the next decade.

        I’d also like to see secondary-high-school child-development science curriculum implemented, which ideally would include some psychology and neurodiversity lessons, albeit not overly complicated. It would be course material, however, considerably more detailed than what’s already covered by the current basic home-economics (etcetera) classes, which typically is diaper changing, baby feeding and so forth. I believe the latter do not suffice, especially in contemporary times.

        Thanks also for your posted article.

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