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Bullying in Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome: Clinical and Therapeutic Aspects

Friday, 3 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
F. Pourre, J. Andanson, E. Aubert and J. P. Raynaud, Service universitaire de psychiatrie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, CHU de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
Background: Adolescents with Asperger syndrome are frequently bullied. This led to an increase in social difficulties, anxiety and behavior disorders, school phobias or depressive episodes.

- To describe this phenomenon in 42 adolescents with Asperger syndrome participating in social skills groups.

- To define strategies carried out in social kills groups to help teens suffering from bullying.

We systematically collected information regarding bullying in 42 adolescents participating in  social skills groups. Data were analyzed: source, frequency and type of bullying, context and mode of revelation, behavioral, emotional and cognitive consequences in teenagers, impact on family and applied measures.

From this information, we developed a specific module based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for prevention and management of bullying. Integrated into social skills groups program it can be completed, as required, by a specific action. These strategies include a partnership with parents and schools. We will illustrate this form of intervention by clinical examples.

Results: 90% of adolescents participating in social skills groups relate experiences of bullying such as teasing, insults, threats, manipulation, cyberbullying or physical violence. In more than two-thirds of cases of bullying, the social skills groups integrating a specific module for prevention and management of bullying can remove or significantly reduce this phenomenon.

In addition there is significant improvement in scales of social reciprocity (Social Responsiveness Scale), theory of mind (Faux pas recognition test), friendship (Friendship questionnaire) and anxiety (Revised Child anxiety Depression Scale).

The prospects for improving the methodology and limitations of strategies implemented are described and discussed. Hypotheses about the specificity of bullying in adolescents with Asperger syndrome are proposed.

Conclusions: The importance of bullying in children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome involves actions of information and intervention with parents and schools as well as the development of specific strategies through social skills groups. Our results, together with data from the international literature suggest practical means of preventing and coping for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders who are victims of bullying.

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