Bullying of children and adolescents with autism spectrum conditions: a ‘state of the field’ review

Peer-reviewed article
(2014 Nov) International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19 845-862


Humphrey N, Hebron J.


A ‘state of the field’ review of what is currently known about bullying of children and adolescents with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) is presented. We highlight compelling evidence that they are considerably more likely to be bullied than those with other or no special educational needs and disabilities. Although prevalence estimates vary from study to study, they are always worryingly high, with the highest rate reported as 94%. Those most at risk include (but are not limited to) individuals with Asperger syndrome and/or with milder deficits in social understanding, early adolescents, those attending mainstream school, and those with concurrent behavioural difficulties. Research on anti-bullying interventions for ASC is in its relative infancy. Currently available evidence suggests that a multi-level, comprehensive approach to intervention that offers parallel foci on children and young people with ASC, their peers, teaching and support staff, and the broader school ethos and climate is warranted. A crucial component of the above is the acknowledgement of the elevated risk experienced by those with ASC and the requirement to tailor interventions to their specific needs.