Jun 16

Asperger Syndrome and Bullying: Strategies and Solutions

Posted by Soliloquy in Autism and Asperger's Syndrome | For parents

Bullying is a serious problem for people with Asperger Syndrome (AS), both at school and in the workplace, and displaying “different” behavior, such as not understanding social rules or hand-flapping, exacerbates the risk of being victimized. Writing in an accessible, informal style, the author describes the bullying behavior he and other individuals have experienced, and the effect this has had on their lives. He outlines the reasons for bullying behavior and the d… More >>

Asperger Syndrome and Bullying: Strategies and Solutions

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5 Responses

  • Nick Dubin’s book is a Godsend. It’s as simple as that.

    This brilliant work on bullying children with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is the spectrum partner to autism is long overdue. With candor and unflinching insights, Dubin has not only included statistics; a list of helpful websites; a bibliography and clearly drawn vignettes about bullying and the dynamics of bullying, he has written several clear chapters about how people can be empowered. Educators, parents and spectators have been provided with checklists of bullying behavior and ways to help end it.

    One of my favorite parts in this book was when Nick Dubin related a boyhood incident wherein two peers hounded and harassed him and tricked him into being locked into a pair of handcuffs. Luckily, his father caught the bullies in the act and got Nick to tell him what was really going on. When the bullies came by Nick’s home shortly after the incident, Nick’s father made it clear that he was not taken in by their blandishments and cock and bull story; he defended Nick and made it plain that he would not tolerate kids mistreating his son. You can respect him. I love the way he defended Nick and did not let himself be conned and beguiled by Other People’s Children. Sadly, in the case of children on the autism spectrum, peers are not the treat adults often hype them to be. Many children with autism view peers as threats and will understandably go to great lengths to avoid them. Only a masochist would want to endure abuse and sadly many children with autism suffer it on a routine daily basis. Peers are generally the chief offenders.

    Nick illustrates excellent examples of this by citing several glaring incidents from his own boyhood. Peers would ask Nick to perform and Nick went along with it, little realizing that his peers were setting him up for ridicule. That was bad enough, but when one boy called him “R*** M**,” which is a slur in the autism/Asperger’s world, he crossed a line. The boy told Nick that only R*** M** would share Nick’s special interests and used this cruel epithet to Nick. That term is every bit as offensive as any ethnic/racial/religious/nationality slur and is always best avoided. I really wish the savant stereotype could be put to rest once and for good!

    All too often, children on the spectrum are targeted for peer and, in some cases teacher abuse because of social difficulties and lack of social savvy and understanding. An even more upsetting part to this is that all too often children on the autism spectrum are blamed for their social challenges. It is time for the buck to stop and this is as good a place as any.

    I really think we all should raise our glasses to this incredible author and this wonderful book! All parents and educators should have a copy and this book deserves a place of honor for all.

  • Bullying (which includes both verbal and physical harassment) is an extremely serious problem in our schools today. A large percentage of adolescent and teenage suicides are directly and primarily attributable to bullying. Most of the widely reported school shootings were also at least partly acts of revenge against bullying. Unfortunately, most parents and school administrators simply do not understand the scope of the problem. This is largely due to the perception that teasing and bullying are a “normal part of growing up.” All too often, the problem is dismissed by well-meaning school administrators that remember being victims of some teasing and bullying in their own childhoods and who think that the victims should just “get over it”.

    While it is true that everyone experiences a certain amount of bullying, there are many children in our schools for whom bullying is not just an occasional incident to be shrugged off. For most students with Asperger syndrome, bullying is pervasive, constant, and inescapable. They usually lack the pragmatic language skills to effectively use “comebacks” to respond to teasing, they lack the motor skills to fight back if the harassment turns physical, and they usually have few (if any) friends available to provide emotional support afterwards. Add to that the fact that persons with autism have a biologically based difficulty in dealing with frustration and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Nick Dubin shows a rare understanding of the severity and nature of the problem from the standpoint of a former victim. He does a masterful job of explaining why persons with Asperger syndrome (and other forms of autism) are extremely vulnerable to bullying. He also offers a wealth of practical suggestions to combat this problem in our schools. If we, as a society, claim to value diversity, how can we turn our backs on our own children that are harassed daily in our schools for no reason other than the fact that they are different?

    Why do we expect a 12 year old child with autism to endure daily harassment that is often far worse than that which would be grounds for a very large lawsuit if it happened to a 30 year old adult in the workplace?

    Every school administrator, teacher, and parent needs to read this book. Dubin masterfully shows why the problem is both serious and solvable — if only parents and school officials will pay attention.

  • This book delivers insight and hope to children being victimized and their families. When I counsel children and adults who have been bullied, I am invariably struck by the deep wounds that they carry through life. The fear and trembling lives on, along with the sadness and the pain that are more than just memories that people get over. Nick Dubin speaks with passion in a singular voice as an adult who has Asperger’s and as a professional who helps the reader get the big picture. Parents, teachers, and professionals will understand why do bullies do what they do, why people stand by, and what to do about it.

    –Robert A. Naseef, Ph.D., author of Special Children, Challenged Parents and co-editor Voices from the Spectrum.

    Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People With Autism, And Professionals Share Their Wisdom

  • As a parent dealing with a fairly new diagnosis, this book went beyond the title. Finally Asperger’s has been explained in a way that allows me to grasp what it is like for my son. I also discovered how even we as adoring parents have unintentionally bullied him. This is a crucial read for parents, teachers and school administration. I strongly recommend it!

  • Having been bullied most of my life in and out of school I just learned to live with it. It was only when, like the author, I was diagnosed in adulthood with AS that the pieces of my life began to come together. However one thing still troubled me, why was I subjected to such harsh treatment? That was up until I read this book.

    This book, written in a style of a informative manual for professionals such as teachers, clearly spells out why people on the spectrum are subjected to bullying and harassment on a daily basis in the torturous prison that is our schools. The author has dedicated a chapter to some of his own experiences and uses these and the stories of others on the spectrum to plainly illustrate his points. However unlike some other books on the subject that I have read he also backs up these points with numerous references to other studies, books and other AS authorities.

    I am not saying that this book is without its flaws. For one many of the strategies suggested for use by the teachers and the victims themselves will have in one form or other been tried and have often failed due in part to the fact that some bullies actively look for a chink in the armour, once it is found the whole cycle begins again. Also the book is very thin for the subject matter and while this is good in stopping the reader getting bored it does very little when you are trying to find really good in-depth material on the subject.

    Having said that, this book gives a rock solid foundation for parents, victims and teachers to build on and create a better strategy for dealing with bullying of people on the spectrum and those who are not. Also this book puts a strong emphasis on engaging bystanders, turning them from innocent bystanders into a dynamic force to help stamp out bullying when it starts instead of when it has taken root. As it says, Bullying does not happen in a vacuum.

    If you are looking for a good book about bullying on the spectrum, this guy knows his stuff.



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