Common Challenges At School
Bullying and Exclusion
Though many autistic girls have a desire to be social and to fit in, unfortunately many autistic individuals, and particularly autistic girls, experience bullying and/or exclusion. A Yellow Ladybugs survey found that 71 percent of autistic girls reported experiencing some form of bullying, including verbal, social exclusion, physical and sexual assaults, and property damage while at school16. Girls' bullying techniques are often more covert than boys, less physical and harder to observe. The long-term emotional impact of bullying and extended periods of feeling excluded can detrimentally impact on outcomes for autistic girls and gender diverse people, and contribute to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression17.
Melissa Juzva is an Educational & Developmental Psychologist with extensive experience working with the autistic community. In this video she talks about dealing with bullying and in particular, how to handle teasing, arguments and gossip.
The fear of being bullied or feeling different can lead to girls choosing to isolate themselves. On the other hand, some autistic girls may not even understand bullying as a concept or recognise when they are being bullied. This may diminish their ability to seek help.
Autistic girls can be very empathetic, to a point where they can take on the emotional pain of others. They can often hold onto things that upset them longer, because they feel more intensely. It’s important to acknowledge this and support them.
I was often overlooked or ignored in class, but it was even more obvious how different I was in the playground. Girls either were mean to me, or completely ignored me. This is where I felt completely ostracised, and needed more support during unstructured times.
Further recommendations on this topic
- Watch : Shadia Hancock talks about growing up, teen years and bullying - 5.57mins
- Read the fact sheet for more tips and strategies : Bullying and Exclusion.pdf
16. Kopp 2011. 17. Attwood 2007; Attwood & Grandin 2006; Cridland, et al. 2013; Jackson 2002; Solomon et al. 2012