ASD children are more likely to experience bullying than children without ASD, and this bullying worsens with age, according to new research by Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Hanna Morton, a postgraduate student in clinical psychology at Binghamton University, aimed to conceptualize bullying in children with ASD to specifically identify the different types of harassment and behavior. Her research also highlights the need to establish better definitions of bullying behavior.
"This research is important because it contributes to our understanding of how bullying is nuanced," Morton said. "This variability means it is crucial to define a definition of harassment and to make standard assessments to know when and what kind of harassment happens."
Morton, along with Binghamton psychologists Jennifer Gillis, Richard Mattson and Raymond Romantic, focused this study on teachers and parents of children with ASD and members of the ASD-free community. The participants took a study containing 80 scenarios of interactions between two children of school age. Scenarios range from children aged four to fifteen. Sixty-four of these scenarios contain behaviors of harassment (ie, physical, verbal, interpersonal, and cybernetic). The participants were randomly presented with 16 scenarios and were asked to assess the severity of the interaction between the two children and the types of harassment they were attending.
The results show that the increased age of the child provides higher estimates of the severity of the bullying. The results also show that harassment among older children with ASD is perceived as particularly problematic by their parents and that the perceived burden of bullying differs depending on the type of bullying behavior (ie, physical, verbal, interpersonal, and cybernetic) .
"This article highlights that harassment is a really broad construct," says Morton. "What every two people can think of when they use the term" harassment "- whether they are parents, teachers, researchers, etc. – is probably different and perhaps in sophisticated ways."
Morton plans to continue his research on this topic by focusing specifically on the bullying behavior that children with ASD have compared to children without ASD.
This study was conducted through the Binghamton Institute for Child Development, which offers early intervention services, speech services and more for children and families in the Binghamton region.
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Materials provided by Binghamton University, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.