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Terri Mauro
BY Terri Mauro

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: Nine Posts for Parents

One of the biggest worries for parents sending their kids with special needs to school or camp or playgrounds or even online is the bullies that may be lying in wait. Kids with disabilities can be particularly susceptible to abuse by peers who see them as different, less than, or just easy marks. As much as you might like to hover over your child, providing cover, that’s likely to only make matters worse.

The following posts from the Friendship Circle blog offer more constructive strategies for keeping your child safe from bullying; dealing with bullying incidents when they occur; and creating an atmosphere less likely to encourage bullying.

1. Ten Bully-Proofing Strategies to Help Children with Special Needs

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Michele Borba

From the Intro: “One large survey found that children attending regular public schools with ASD are bullied at a rate of nearly 50 percent more than kids in private school or special education settings. Another study discovered that students entering first grade with signs of depression and anxiety or excessive aggression are at risk of being chronically victimized by classmates by third grade. Research also shows that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are almost 10 times as likely as others to have been regular targets of bullies.” Read more

Quick Tip: “Explain that bullies often pick on those who are smaller or weaker to feel powerful or better about themselves. Stress that bullies usually love reactions: ‘So try to be calm and don’t react, so the bully recognizes that his antics won’t work.’ Then, practice ways for your child to appear calmer (even though he’s trembling inside). And develop a phrase your child can say inside his head to counter the taunt: ‘I don’t deserve this’ or ‘Stay cool!’”

2. Keeping Your Child with Special Needs Safe From Bullies on the Bus

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Karen Wang

Intro: “Unfortunately, the school bus is the perfect environment for bullying.  The driver must remain focused on traffic for everyone’s safety.  The bus engine is loud, which means that people in one part of the bus can’t hear what is being said in another part of the bus.  The children are packed in close together, and the bus ride may be long.  When parents ask a driver about an incident, the driver often has no knowledge of it.” Read more

Quick Tip: “Ask your child’s teacher to identify friends who can sit with your child on the bus.  My son had several volunteers who enjoyed saving a seat for him in the morning, escorting him to the bus in the afternoon and sitting with him for the ride.”

3. Recess for your Child with Special Needs: Seven Challenges and Solutions

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Karen Wang

Intro: “Sometimes recess is the most anxiety-provoking part of the school day: 15 to 30 minutes of unstructured play surrounded by noisy kids.  There’s always one child who goes to the same swing every day, and swings alone, counting the minutes until it’s time to go back to class. … A sense of vulnerability or a history of being bullied are possible reasons for a preference for solitude during recess.” Read more

Quick Tip: “Do a walk-through of the play area to make sure it is accessible, safe and in full view of supervising adults.”

4. Five Things You Should Know About Cyberbullying and Your Child with Special Needs

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Katie Bassett

Intro: “The explosion of the digital age has opened up a window to be virtually connected to anyone in the world; and while online connection has created opportunity beyond the imaginable, our society is now faced with a major problem resulting from this: cyberbullying. The internet enables bullying to extend far beyond the classroom walls and leaves victims in target range all of the time.” Read more

Quick Tip: “Talk with your child about specific words that shouldn’t be said to another student, or anyone else for that matter. If your child does see these words, you should urge your child to show you.”

5. Five Tips For When Your Child With Special Needs Is Bullied

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Melissa Stuart

Intro: “Parallel to [the Special Olympics Spread the Word to End the Word campaign] and several high-profile teen suicides related to bullying, schools began revamping their code of conduct and anti-bullying regulations. But what does this mean when your child is being targeted by a bully?” Read more

Quick Tip: “Get as much information as possible about the incident(s), names of those involved, what happened, was there adult supervision, and if so, who was there and what did they do?  Getting this information will help you be organized when you approach the school for a solution.”

6. Bullying & Children With Autism [Infographic]

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Tzvi Schectman

Intro: “Bullying has become a major national concern, particularly as it affects children with disabilities. Recently a study was done by Dr. Paul Law of Kennedy Krieger’s Interactive Autism Network. The study documents the increase of bullying among children with autism. Below is an infographic showing the harm caused to autistic children who have been bullied and what parents can do to intervene.” Read more

Quick Tip: “If you can’t get results from a teacher or principal, go to the director of special education.”

7. Is It Legal To Keep My Child with Special Needs Home From School?

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Michael Dorfman

Intro: “A majority of parents with students in special education programs (or with IEPs or 504s) have felt the desire to, or actually kept their child out of school for an extended period of time (from a couple of days to an infinite amount of time) for reasons such as an issue with a teacher, testing, bullying by other students, certain school rules and/or placement decision disagreements, just to name a few.” Read more

Quick Tip: “If the issue is bullying, there are state laws to address this. If you ultimately decide to homeschool your child, you must dis-enroll him from the district and you will receive none of the services that you would be entitled to under IDEA.”

8. Four Book Suggestions to Develop Social Skills and Not be Bullied

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Lorna d’Entremont

Intro: “With education and awareness sessions there is hope that the potential bystanders or the silent majority who witness bullying taking place will speak up.  Bullying has to be addressed throughout the year.  Parents and teachers play an important role to educate, empower, and engage youths in discussions about bullying and its effects.  I recommend the following books to help in our battle against bullying and how to be a good friend or co-worker at school or in the workplace.” Read more

Books Recommended:

• Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Bullies
Slime & All
• Social Rules for Kids -The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to Succeed
Social Thinking at Work: Why Should I Care? A Guidebook for Understanding and Navigating the Social Complexities of the Workplace

9. Six Children’s Books on Diversity and Acceptance of Self and Others

Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies: 9 Posts for Parents

Written by: Lorna d’Entremont

Intro: “Are you working with children and would like a resource to help them understand the hurt they cause when they tease or shun another because of a physical difference, a personality difference, or a disability? Sometimes children are not accepted and ignored because of their clothes, their accent, their personal interests,and other things way out of their control like having a sibling who is different. The bullies must also be helped and understanding children with special needs or who are different in any way is the first step to acceptance.” Read more

Books Recommended:

• Noah and Logan Series of Children’s Books on Social and Life Skills
• Mizz Goodie 2 Shoez In “Shoe-Autism”
• We’re Not So Different After All
• Rainbow of Friendship
• Love for Logan
• Little Lonnie Long Ears


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Terri Mauro

Written on July 20, 2017 by:

Terri Mauro is a former blog manager for Friendship Circle and Parenting Special Needs guide for About.com. She is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child's Special Education and The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder. You can read more of her work on her website Mothers With Attitude and listen to her every weekday on the Parenting Roundabout Podcast. Terri has two children with special needs adopted from Russia in 1994.
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