Unique Characteristics of Children with Special Needs

Children with special needs face unique challenges for dealing with bullying. They often stand out from their peers in ways that make them targets for bullying, and children who have difficulty with social interactions have an even higher risk of being bullied. 

Bullying certainly isn't a new problem; it has existed for generations. Historically, many have seen it as a rite of passage, a type of de facto hazing. According to Dr. Peter Raffalli, a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., this attitude is, in many cases, more dangerous than the bullies themselves. "No matter how you look at it, bullying is a form of abuse victimization, plain and simple," said Dr.Raffailli. "It's a case of the strong - or at least the stronger - preying on the weak. It says volumes about where we are as a culture and race."

Bullying has negative effects on all its victims, but kids with special needs are especially vulnerable, according to Nancy A. Murphy, M.D., FAAP and chair of the AAP Council on Children with Disabilities Executive Committee. "Since these children already struggle with self-esteem issues," said Dr. Murphy, "bullying has a greater impact and they desire to fit in, and are less likely to stand up for themselves."

Learn more about the unique charcteristics of children with special needs and why these children are so often the targets of bullying in this article from our partners at AbilityPath

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commented 2013-04-11 11:40:10 -0400 · Flag
This is oddly comforting for me to read. I know it sounds strange. But, my son, who was diagnosed with severe Autism at the age of 15 months, is now 11 yrs old. He will be starting Middle School next school year and it scares me to death!! We were blessed to live in a town that has an ISD school that has been rated, for the last 15 yrs in the top ten in the nation for Autism! They were amazing. He went from a little guy whom we were told would never speak and never be potty trained, to a little boy who never wants to stop talking. He was potty trained for daytime by 3 yrs! And something amazing to me, was within the first week of school, at 16 months, they got him to pick up a crayon! When you go out to dinner, they give the little guys crayons and paper to occupy them. He’s #3 of 4. All the others would use the crayons. Even his baby sister, who was 6 months old would try them. He would scream. Unless they kept a never ending bowl of lemons coming! But, the first time we went out to dinner, the weekend after his first week at school, he wanted a crayon! And he happily drew! Amazing! And he’s been amazing us ever since. It’s not just the school, it’s his drive to learn and succeed! He is now integrated into a regular school. He’s in his little sisters grade. They’re born very close together,so that would have happened anyway. He has been there for two years and loves it. He seems to handle bullying at this grade level well. He goes and tells his sister and together they take the teacher aside so that he can tell her what happened and who else saw what happened. His sisters there for support. Next year will be so very different for them. So, thank you for all this info.
commented 2012-04-19 10:52:25 -0400 · Flag
We applaud your efforts! My ASD son created a PSA on this topic, and it is comforting to know that there is now a high-profile national conversation going on:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufJ4G6Ry21M
Spread the word- protect these children!!
published this page in Special Needs Toolkit 2012-03-30 18:17:47 -0400