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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Autism: What To Do if You Are Bullied at School

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

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Are Autistic People Often Bullying Victims?

Bullying is never easy for anyone to deal with. Many of us, autistic or not, will be targets or even offenders at some points in our lives.

Despite that, according to Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, autistic people are especially easy targets of bullying.

For autistic children, teens or people going into college or university, this time of year may be anxiety-inducing because many may wonder if their peers will respect them.

I offer some strategies on how to deal with such situations in ways that may particularly apply to autistic people because of how bullying might be more frequent and intense.

Don't Lose Control.

Impulse Control and bullying

According to Spectrum Disorder, impulse control is often a struggle for people on the spectrum. This is because of executive dysfunction can cause difficulties with attention span, flexibility with thoughts and how they see things, and working memory.

The above was me in a nutshell during my elementary school years (especially early).

When someone would do or say something that was upsetting to me or if they were disturbing me in some way, I would lash out at them.

In many cases, this would result in time outs and me learning the hard way that two wrongs don't make a right.

Eventually, once the "think before doing" concept established with me, I gradually got better at handling people.

There were times where I was upset enough that I would still cry about it, but I got better at not getting angry.

Here are a couple of scenarios to give you an idea of the difference between thinking before acting in difficult social situations.

Impulse Control Scenarios

Scenario 1

Situation: Classmate A angrily yells at you to stop fidgeting during a group activity.

Reaction: *scream and stomp feet on ground

Scenario 2

Go Somewhere Private.

Sometimes it can be so much to handle, it can lead to incredibly overwhelming feelings, and therefore, it is hard to not act out.

What I would do here is go somewhere private like a washroom or room in the office to regain control.

This way, you won't only not have many witnesses but you may be in a relatively calming environment, too (and nowhere near the bully).

I found that this worked a lot in my elementary school days. There were incidents I had with other kids that upset me enough that I simply needed a lot of time away from people.

With many neurotypicals I went to school with, they could have conflicts with students, deal with them and move on easily. However, this was hard for me. I needed a lot of time to get over these problems.

Talk To a Staff Member.

When and How To Approach a Teacher

This would especially be a good first course of action when a teacher isn't always in super close proximity, such as high school lunchtime or elementary school recess.

I would approach teachers you trust the most, teachers you are aware know the bully in question, administration or other support staff depending on the person or situation.

From elementary to early high school, I often either handled bullying poorly or didn't recognize when a person bullied me, so I didn't talk to teachers about it as much as I should have.

However, later in high school, there were some incidents where I recognized when I was bullied (even more subtle types of bullying), and I reported it right away. The bullying stopped after that.

Happy and Safe = Two Things Teachers Want You To Feel

Always remember that even if you feel like some teachers don't like you, many will have your back in these types of situations, as long as you are in at least a semi-safe environment.

In my experience, a lot of teachers recognize that autistic people or people with other disabilities are extra vulnerable to bullying.

They also want these autism bullying rates to go down as much as you do, as long as they're at least decent teachers.

Come Up With Something Clever.

When Is This a Good Idea?

This may apply more to laid-back times when there is no teacher present, but if appropriate for the situation, you can stand up to the bullies as long as it isn't violent. Note: I use *insert mean words* and *other actions* to avoid getting too personal.

Responding To Bullies

You may ask how this relates to autism? I have found that many autistic people, including myself, have struggled to come up with good responses to bullying.

When bullies recognize that you don't know how to deal with them, it may tempt them to bully you more (sad world we can live in at times, right?).

Responding To Bullies Scenarios

Scenario 1

Bully: "You're such a *insert mean word*!"

You: At least I'm not a rude person.

Scenario 2

If the Bully Actually Has an Understanding With You?

"Is Everything Okay?"

Sometimes, when a person is a bully, it might just be a one-off thing and they are usually nice and understanding with you. How do I address this?

If this a person where you are truly surprised they are acting this, I would calmly say to the person, "Hey, I realized you haven't been yourself lately. You haven't been as friendly with me as you used to be. What's up?"

If the Bully Responds Positively

If they give a reasonable response, you can explain your social difficulties to them. However, if you know you're on the spectrum, I'd be cautious about telling the person you are autistic if they don't already know, especially in preteen and early high school years.

If you don't want to tell the person about your diagnosis, you can maybe say something like, "Sometimes when I'm distracted I might do this or this, but I'm sorry", or "I have a harder time with this kind of stuff." I feel if the person is worth being friends with, they'll likely respond well to these comments.

If the Bullying Continues

If the situation between you and this bully isn't improving or getting worse, this is where it especially becomes a good idea to get teachers, or even principals and parents involved.

If you, the victim, is trying to make the situation better and that person isn't cooperating, then that's when I've especially been like "Enough!" in the past.

What if I Don't Recognize When I Am Being Bullied?

Bullying Relationship With Social Cues

Another thing that is unfortunate is that because people on the spectrum often don't understand social cues, they can sometimes not recognize when a person is bullying them.

Unfortunately, this means many people may get away with being mean to others, much more than we think.

Answer Questions: Are These People Bullies or Are They Genuine?

In this case, as tough as it is, I would pay close attention to others' general behaviours. I would ask yourself the following questions when people socialize with you:

If you answered what you don't want to answer for at least a few of these questions, that person is probably being hostile to you more than you realize.


Bullying is hard as heck to deal with, no doubt. With these strategies, however, you can let these situations vanish into thin air quicker than ever.

You will feel happy and safe, even if it takes some work on your part to do so because of how insensitive some people can be.

I hope you have a happy rest of time at school that is free of bullying as much as possible.

1 Comment

Oct 23, 2023

Hi Cory,

This is my experience with bullying.

All of my posts will be featured on my site.

Category: Discrimination, Awareness, Age, Initiation.

Description: Autistics are still bullied. Teachers must tackle and recognize neurodiversity in its first manifestations.

Autistics are often victims of bullying in schools. There is still no anti-Bullying law although schools are taking serious actions recently. Back in my day, bullying was totally ignored and perpetrated by teachers themselves. That makes me feel old and an underachiever. I wish I was born 20 years later. Also my Christian faith was not that strong back then. My worry is not being accepted by young generations. I wish I was appreciated by my young personality and not my biological age. I m full of initiative, I…

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