This month is National Bully Awareness Month. Bullying is a widespread issue in schools and online. But take it a step further – special needs children. A study in the British Journal of Learning Support found high rates of bullying in these children.
The researchers indicated 60 percent of students with special needs reported being bullied compared to 25 percent of the general student population. Brain Balance Achievement Center in Encino, Calif., which offers a drug-free program for Southern California families struggling with ADHD, learning and behavioral challenges, Dyslexia and Autism spectrum disorders, has tips for both parents and children.
For parents, doctors at Brain Balance have a few tips for those with special needs kids:
- Sarcasm and body language can be lost on special needs kids. These children may not even realize there is a bullying issue. It is up to parents to take that extra step to assess the situation to see if there truly is a bullying situation taking place and then meet with teachers and staff to let them know.
- On the other hand – a special needs child may be the opposite end of the spectrum and paranoid, which is a common trait. Again, it’s up to the parent to communicate with the teachers and staff if this is also the case.
- Children particularly with undiagnosed dyslexia may have instances where they have been asked to read out loud during class and were then teased because of how they read.
Another angle to consider: if the special needs child is considered the bully.
“Children, particularly with Asperger’s or autism, do not always display emotions and can come across as stoic. Couple that with a child who may repeat questions and statements and the child could easily be mistaken as a bully when he or she is not,” says Dr. Mark Flannery, founder, Brain Balance of Encino.
Tips for special needs children who are being bullied:
- Always focus on a goal when walking. If the child stays focused on one destination, it may reduce his/her chance to interact with the bully.
- Do not smile. Bullies can interpret smiling as a sign of weakness.
- Walk confidently with head held high.