Bullying in ASD
One hundred percent of children and adults with ASD are bullied at sometime. One hundred percent of the time, it hurts. I hope they are not bullied on a daily basis. I hope the hurt does not leave scars-physically or emotionally.
Perhaps, being bullied should be right up there on the new DSM criteria for Autistic Disorder as an indentifying factor of a person with ASD because it is so common. When anything occurs one hundred percent of the time and we, as SLP's, work closely with this population and the team, how to deal with bullying must become a part of speech therapy.
As an SLP you are probably saying to yourself right about now, "Wait a minute, Kathie, that's for psychologists, child psychologists, or for law enforcement and the courts, but not SLP's. Get out of here."
Hold on. Hear me out SLP's.
Bullying is a national pastime. It's a habit to those who prey on someone they perceive as vulnerable. It's an assault on a person who does not understand the how's, why's, and innuendos of language. It can be physical. It is the tearing down of a human soul for no gain and I wish we could stop the ones doing the bullying. It can be emotional. It can be ignored but it always hurts. Bullying can drive a person to suicide. Suicide is common in ASD.
Are you listening now?
Suicide is common in ASD. That's a fact. I don't have all of the answers here, but I do know that as SLP's we have the opportunities, knowledge, strategies, communication, relationships, networking, personalities, and caring to try to make a difference in how our clients deal with bullying. You or I can't change overall facts and statistics, but making a difference in one person's life changes that fact for him/her and that's a good day to me.
So what can an SLP do?
Bullying is not an easy topic. It is uncomfortable and scary. We are going to tackle it together in my next few blogs because it IS life or death. Here are some of the expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language aspects of bullying that people with ASD need:
- body language
- who, what, where, when, why, and how and all social aspects of functional language skills
- The message is that all therapy benchmarks can be addressed through the topic of bullying, how to protect oneself from it
Are you bullying us, Kathie?
No. As the mother of a grown son with ASD, I assure you. As an SLP, I have been there to see and hear the stories from hundreds of parents, as hearts break, tears fall, tempers flare, words cut, emotions and bodies entwine on floors in homes and jails. These feelings and nightmares all started with bullying.
February 23 was Pink Shirt Day to Stop Bullying. It's not that I noticed many people wearing pink shirts but I celebrated the day on my On the Road with Humpty Dumpty blog. The whole premise of that blog is to get off your wall and live life to its fullest. (I invite you to visit.)
You'll have to see why my little friend Humpty Dumpty feels bullied. Many people with differences and disabilities, such as ASD do. Can we help them? I'll never give up trying.
Come back next week and invite a friend for more on bullying in speech therapy. Oh, by-the-way, do leave a comment about your thoughts on bullying and how we can give our ASD friends just a little more confidence in themselves - remember, we might make a difference for one.
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."