By Karen Huber
At The Y.A.L.E School, intake interviews often begin by asking students and parents why they are leaving their public school. Quite often, the answer is a sad and sometimes horrific story of bullying and social isolation in mainstream classes.
There is evidence to support this: a new study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows that 46 percent of kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are bullied. Sadly, this comes as no surprise to those of us who parent, teach and counsel these unique, wonderful kids.
Many people seem to believe that high-functioning students with ASD alienate and isolate themselves intentionally, inciting their own bullying. Nothing could be further from the truth. These children and teens desperately want relationships and friends, but miss and misunderstand social norms necessary for this to happen.
In efforts to address bullying, New Jersey schools have done an excellent job dispelling myths about racial and ethnic minorities, physical differences and sexual orientation. When our society acknowledges that even high-functioning, verbally adept students with ASDs do not choose to socially misbehave, we will be one step closer to implementing comprehensive anti-bullying programs, and addressing the unnecessary suffering of these marvelous students.