Objectives: 1) Determine the prevalence of bullying in a sample of ASD children. 2) Identify risk factors for being bullied.
Methods: Parents were recruited from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), an online, national voluntary registry of families who have children with an ASD. Five hundred parents, with children aged 6-15 years, completed a survey dedicated to their child’s school experiences (the full sample of 2100 parents will be presented at the conference). As a control group, parents were also asked to comment on the school experiences of any non-affected children. Basic tablatures were used to calculate the prevalence of bullying in the sample, and a multiple logistic regression was used to estimate the Odds Ratios (ORs) of being bullied in the past month by child and school characteristics.
Results: At the time of the analysis, 70% of parents reported that their child had been bullied in their lifetime, while 42% had been bulled in the past month. In comparison, 43% of non-affected siblings were bullied in their lifetime and 9% were bullied in the past month. The adjusted multiple logistic regression model revealed children with Asperger’s to be more likely to be bullied than children with other ASDs (OR=3.01, 95% CI: 1.77-5.16, p<0.001). Demographic differences included children in elementary school being more likely to be bullied than children in high school (OR=3.34, 95% CI: 1.42-7.82, p=0.006), while children in public schools were more likely to be bullied than children in private schools (OR=2.22, 95% CI: 1.01-4.89, p<0.05). Children who received free or reduced breakfast or lunches were also more likely to be bullied (OR=2.61, 95% CI: 1.54-4.41, p<0.001). Finally, males were less likely to be bullied in the past month than females (OR=0.52, 95% CI: 0.30-0.91, p=0.02).
Conclusions: Children with ASDs were bullied at rates higher than the general education population and their non-affected siblings, warranting the need for interventions against bullying that take into account this vulnerable population. Children with Asperger’s were at the greatest risk of being bullied, perhaps a consequence of these children being the most likely to attend public, regular education schools.
See more of: Epidemiology
See more of: Prevalence, Risk factors & Intervention