Risk factors for bullying among children with autism spectrum disorders

Autism. 2014 May;18(4):419-27. doi: 10.1177/1362361313477920. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Although children with disabilities have been found to be at an increased risk of bullying, there are limited studies investigating predictors of bullying involvement in children with autism spectrum disorders. The current study presents findings from 1221 parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who were selected from a national web-based registry. Parents completed a survey dedicated to the school and bullying experiences of their child, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify child and school risk factors for involvement as victim, bully, or bully-victim. Additional analyses examined the risk of bullying involvement based on the amount of time spent in general education classrooms. Children diagnosed with Asperger's disorder, attending a public school or a school with a general education population, were at the greatest risk of being victimized in the past month. Children with comorbid conditions and a high level of autistic traits were the most likely to be victims, bullies, and bully-victims. Finally, children in full inclusion classrooms were more likely to be victimized than those who spend the majority of their time in special education settings. Future research studies should be invested in finding appropriate supports for children with autism spectrum disorder placed in inclusive settings.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; bullying; schools; special needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Special / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mainstreaming, Education / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States