I spoke at an Autism conference last week, and presented information on cyberbullying victimization and ASD youth. I am particularly interested in this population as one of my close friends is on the spectrum, and has shared with me his experiences being harassed by peers who perceive them as “different.” These youth are especially susceptible because of the difficulty they have with conversation, social convention and integration, and response to nonverbal cues. In addition, they struggle with motor clumsiness, a difficulty articulating a need for help, and a resistance to change. Finally, Internet-based communication is absolutely essential in meeting their daily relational needs, because online interaction eliminates many of the conversational nuances that they wouldn’t pick up on (in face-to-face conversations).
Not only do these factors (and others) cumulatively lead to ASD kids being cyberbullied online, many are easily manipulated by mischievous bullies who goad them to cyberbully others, download child pornography, or hack into other computers – and they agree to do it, simply because they want to fit in and be well-liked. We definitely have a proportion of very vulnerable youth who are in need of our help.
I’m interested to see if our readers have any experience working with ASD kids who have experienced cyberbullying, and have a perspective to share. In an upcoming post, I will detail some strategies on how to specifically help ASD children and teenagers in such situations.
On youtube it´s pretty common this type of harrasment against people who suffer of autism. It´s pathetic a law which made the bullies being free to humilhate everyone… Hope youtube start to have more vigor against cyberbullying.
Thanks for raising the isssue of "vulnerable" – special education students in cyberbullying. Actually in Pedagogy Academy in Lodz, Poland we are conducting two research projects (one international) exploring those links. We are conducting interviews with menatlly retarded adolescents – they are electronically harassed more often but at the same time they tend to be perpetrators of cyberbullying. Genarally the topic of special education students is underexplored both in cyberbullying and traditional bullying.
Jacek – I am a mother of a teen with AS and also a graduate student in a School Psychology program in the US. I am very interested in the research that you mentioned being conducted in Poland, particularly of students with AS being the unwitting perpetrators of cyberbullying. Thanks for any info you can share!
Actually what we do – maybe I was not clear enough in my last post – we explore the usage of ICT (also dysfunctional) among specual needs children but not particularly AS. The groubs involve children with intellectual disability or hearing problems. Of course we are pleased to share the findings if you are still interested.
I have an autistic son who according to doctors develops better than expectations. We have been very forward about my son’s disability and I had spoken before the Legislative assembly to petition services and better controls as it comes to children with disabilities. Unfortunately my child and I had become a subject of cyber bullying, religious and disability hate speech and libellous posts targeted to denigrate my son’s accomplishments, his abilities were cruelly undermined. A gang of individuals expelled by the Church of Scientology have partnered to harass my child on their religious hate boards related in Australia. They have published enough personal information to cause harassment by peers at my Childs school. This behaviour should be outlawed as it is a hate crime.