“Autistics Aren’t Welcome Here”: The Bullying of Autistic Students in America’s Schools

His final social media post said he was “tired of being bullied.”  According to his mother, he had been hounded at school for years—at one point coming home with a broken nose and a concussion.  The school administration knew that other students were preying on him but took no action.  At one point, he even visited the school nurse and told her he wanted to kill himself, but the school never followed up. 

And then, suddenly, a ray of hope.  The district STEM school admitted him to their program.  This meant, his mother said, that he would finally be able to “leave a school where he was tormented by students and neglected or ostracized by the administration.”  The STEM academy was aware that he was autistic but was willing to take him anyway.  But then it turned out that the STEM school didn’t offer a “base class that was required for the boy’s autism.”  And so the school district rescinded their permission for him to transfer, leaving the child “devastated.”  So he did kill himself.  He was eleven years old.[1]

Suicide attempts and successful suicides are far more common among autistic than more neurologically typical children.[2]  Bullies, especially cyberbullies, encourage suicide with messages like “you should die” and “dig a hole and bury yourself.”[3]  But autistic children don’t need such messages to realize that their lives in school are unbearable, or to look to death as a relief: “I would have killed myself if my parents didn’t take me out of public school.  The bullying was that bad.[4] 

The fact is, if you are a school bully looking for an easy target, the nearest kid with autism fits your needs perfectly. Generally naïve about social customs and interactions, such children are easily manipulated or tricked into dangerous situations.  Because of their unusual behaviors (and sometimes by personal preference), they tend to be socially isolated, lacking any protective support network of peers. They may also be mistrusted or even disliked by teachers and other authority figures, who will fail to back them up when they report being bullied.[5]   And even when parents report bullying to the schools, too often nothing is done.

What We Know About the Bullying of Autistic Children in Our Schools

So here’s the thing. I just started high school. And up until today, I have been really liking it. But today when I went into my binder, I found a note. It said, “Autistics aren’t welcome here go find a new school.”[6]

If students with autism are especially likely to be suicidal, it is mostly because they are so disproportionately affected by bullying. Some researchers have found that autistic children are four times more likely to be targeted by bullies than non-autistic ones. 40% of autistic kids are bullied every single day, compared with only 15% of neurotypical kids.  Children with autism are also more likely to be targeted than children with other special needs—with the possible exception of those with ADHD.[7]  In any given year, researchers estimate that between 57% and 94% of all autistic kids are bullied.[8] 

In general, bullied children receive little support from American schools.  “I feel like the public school system failed me,” writes one disillusioned adult.[9] This is true of all children, sadly, but autistic kids have special difficulties.  Most of these kids believe that their teachers and school administrators are indifferent to their suffering. It is possible, of course, that busy teachers genuinely don’t see the cruelty perpetrated in their classrooms.  However, victims often find it hard to imagine that their teachers can’t see what’s happening, since the situation is so painfully obvious to them (and since they often report it).  So they conclude that the teachers just don’t care: “They did absolutely nothing.  Ignoring it was their best policy.”[10]  This perceived (and to often real) indifference adds an additional layer of trauma to the experience.  A fourteen-year-old with autism who had already made two suicide attempts reported that the bullying

made me feel sad, depressed. It made me feel like people don’t care anymore because when I got bullied I felt like well if they cared about me they would have done something.[11] 

Even when bullying is formally reported to school authorities, it is remarkable how often the autistic victim’s testimony is not believed. Taylor Ibarra, an autistic fourteen-year-old in Aynor, South Carolina, killed himself in December 2017, after years of bullying. A classmate who had also been bullied at the same school stated, “It’s not fair how they treat the kids and how the administration does nothing about it. I never really fought back physically, but I went to the counselors the principals the teachers, nothing was done. This kid actually lost his life to it when it could have been prevented, and they did nothing.”[12]

Given two different accounts of what happened, schools may refuse to choose a side: “[The teachers’] favorite mantra was always ‘it’s their word against yours’.”[13]   Remarkably often, though, they take the bully’s account more seriously than their autistic victim’s.  Bullies almost always have a stronger support network than their autistic victims, so they easily find corroboration for their claims of innocence.  When it is supported by his or her friends, schools have no trouble accepted a bully’s version of events:  “. . . when I reported it to the teachers, “sorry we have to go with majority on this.”[14]  And after reporting fails, the situation commonly gets worse. Seeing that they can get away with it, bullies increase their attacks.  Indeed, teachers and administrators may actually punish the victim, while the bully gets off scot-free.[15]  In Arkansas, one autistic child who reported being bullied was called a “tattle-tale,” and forced to sit in the “time-out” chair.[16]  Eventually, victims simply stop looking to their schools for support: “I got tired of teachers never doing anything about the bullying so I quit telling my teachers about the bullying.[17] 

To make things worse, the adults in charge of schools may be bullies themselves.  Most school personnel don’t fall into this category, of course, but across the country many individual teachers, aides, coaches, and administrators have done horrible things to the autistic kids in their charge.  In Georgia, one teacher was forced to resign after the school determined she had repeatedly sprayed Lysol into her student’s face.[18]  In an Indiana school, at the end-of-the-year awards ceremony, a special education teacher gave her student a “Most Annoying” award.[19]  In Washington State, another special education teacher responded to a mother’s request for a “quiet space” for her son to work by placing his desk over a toilet in the staff bathroom.[20]  In Michigan, a teacher recorded and distributed a video of herself and the school principal taunting a child who had gotten stuck in a chair.[21]  In California, a teacher forced her autistic student to clean her shoes in front of the class.[22]  How can students turn to their teachers for help, when the teachers themselves are so cruel?

The Long-Term Effects of School Bullying

The long horrors of their school days haunt many autistic adults. They remember (sometimes they can’t stop remembering . . .) being poked and prodded, scratched and kicked, punched, doused with noxious liquids, and pushed downstairs.  They remember being choked unconscious, set on fire, waterboarded (literally), stabbed with knives. They remember being the one not invited to the birthday party, not picked for the sports team, not wanted as partner for a class project. They remember being alone on the bus, alone at lunch, alone on the playground. More than anything, they remember the mockery and humiliation, the insults and cruel imitations, the echoes of savage laughter. And maybe this is why there was such a visceral reaction when speech pathologist Karen Kabaki-Sisto published a piece called “10 Perks Kids with Autism Get from Bullying” on the Autism Daily News, in October, 2015.[23]  Presumably Kabaki-Sisto meant well, but her piece was jarringly tone deaf to actual autistic experience.  

How could anyone suggest, wrote many autistic adults, that their horrific sufferings at school had a positive side?  And they are right.  Bullying induces such severe distress in schoolchildren that it may exacerbate or actually create psychological disorders— especially what psychologists call “internalizing” disorders (in which emotional distress is directed inwards.)  Loneliness, anxiety, poor self-image, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts appear or intensify after bullying.  Prolonged bullying (the type most autistic kids endure) erodes trust in other people, leaving the victims feeling alone and helpless.  Responding to Kabaki-Sisto, “Jennifer” reports that her own experiences with bullying left her with

A complete inability to trust others: This is due to never knowing who is actually your friend or who is setting you up to be the butt of a joke and/or using you for their own personal gain. You also realize your peers don’t give a damn about you enough to stand up for you, when they see you being harassed, made fun of, and physically abused by others.[24]

Intense anxiety can follow.[25]  While Kabaki-Sisto suggested that bullying might make autistic children more aware of the people around them, one autistic adult described just what kind of awareness might result:

. . . she will grow to be afraid of everyone around her. She will be constantly afraid the next person walking down the street will take umbrage with her behavior. She will be afraid of doing anything that isn’t “normal,” and will question her own behaviors and thoughts to the point of near nervous breakdown.[26]  

Kabaki-Sisto had suggested that bullying might lead to increased independence, but “Purpleaspie” did not view that as a positive thing:

In a twisted way bullying did increase my independence, as it taught me that I couldn’t rely on anyone to help me, certainly not the school principal or vice-principal or any of the teachers or counsellors, so I had to depend only on myself.[27]

Such lack of trust increases social withdrawal, “to avoid exposing yourself to betrayal in the first place, or because you lose the confidence and self-esteem you might have had before.”[28]  But this only worsens the situation. Withdrawal destroys even the tiny bit of social support a child might have once enjoyed, making bullying easier than ever.

For bullied autistic students, school is a place of terror.  School refusal is a very common outcome:  many of these kids bolt when told it is time to go to school.[29]  Others may act up in school on purpose, eager to get suspended.

After I had been suspended the first time and got to stay home from school, I CONSTANTLY was trying to get in trouble in order to get suspended again. My parents never let me watch TV or anything like that on the day I was suspended, but it didn’t matter I was happy to be home, away from bullies.[31]

Even those who can force themselves to go to school suffer from debilitating fear. In ninth and tenth grade, my own autistic daughter used to vomit every single morning before going off to face her tormentors.  (We home-schooled her for her junior and senior year because we just couldn’t stand to watch her suffer any more.)  “IndieSoul” used to “shake and sweat from anxiety in school and hide in the bathrooms during recess.”[32]  Another victim reports fainting “just out of fear.”[33]  Autistic individuals already experience high anxiety, but years of bullying lay the foundation for chronic anxiety disorders: “I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be completely rid of the anxiety.”[34] 

Particularly severe or long-lasting bullying may actually produce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[35]  To my knowledge, no researcher has examined the numbers of autistic adults suffering from PTSD due to school bullying, but many individuals report having PTSD for that reason.  Some describe their symptoms in online fora for autistics:  

Lately I’ve been having flashbacks of the days when I got bullied in school. They range from the typical teasing, to having things thrown at me, gossiped about, falsely accused of vandalism, being called mentally challenged, ‘roasted’ by the entire classroom when I had done nothing wrong or didn’t say anything at all, and eventually ignore[d] by adults when I complained and after that, beaten up.[36] 

PTSD produces many other symptoms:

I suffer from panic attacks, palpitations, hallucinations, nightmares, physical sickness (rare) and have an overactive responce to potential dangers, even if the ‘danger’ doesn’t really exist. It is absolutely horrific to suffer like this.[37] 

Such debilitating symptoms make a decent quality of life nearly impossible.

The most dangerous lesson bullying teaches autistic (and other) children, though, is that they deserve it.  This is what the bullies tell them, this is what parents and school staff may inadvertently reinforce, this is what they eventually internalize—that they are less than other people, inherently flawed, unworthy of decent treatment, and deserving of the “punishment” they are constantly receiving.

The assistant principal at my old school told me it was my fault I was being bullied and that I should change what ever it was I was being bullied about.[38] 

I even had a school counselor tell me that it was my fault that people treated me the way I did because of the way I acted. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, she didn’t tell me, and I didn’t know any other way to act.[39]

. . . when I was made fun of pushed around etc in school I always thought I deserved it because I “asked” for it, not being normal etc.[40] 

By high school, Kirsten reports,

. . . my self-esteem had been damaged to the point that I couldn’t even conceive of the notion of self-love. In the back of my mind, I thought I was slow, stupid, ugly, a loser, and any other unwanted adjective I could think of.[41]

Children who have absorbed these lessons often develop clinically significant depression. “I got bullied at school and was depressed all of middle school/high school.”[42]  “I got a major clinical depression because of bullying.  I’m on meds now.”[43]  Depression hinders both social and academic achievement, but it also frequently leads to thoughts of suicide—one study has found that such thoughts are 28 times more common among autistic than among neurotypical children.  Suicidal ideation is not something inherent in autism; it arises from being bullied. The same study found that bullying multiplies by three the likelihood that children with autism will think about or actually attempt suicide.[44] 

If I had not been bullied at school I would have had a refuge.  Not having that?  I tried to kill myself a few times and failed.  I didn’t get found or helped, I just didn’t do it right.  I am glad of that but telling me that I am stronger because of this [as Kabaki-Sisto did] is an insult to my intelligence, common sense, and every autist on the planet.[45]

However happy, engaged, and enthusiastic they may have been at an early age, autistic children—like other bullied children—ultimately lose their early sense of self.  Izzy Tichenor was “a happy child. She was a happy little girl, she did well in school …”[46]  But early in November, 2021, ten-year-old Izzy killed herself.  News stories about her suicide have focused on the racist bullying she endured at school—because her death came soon after the U.S. Department of Justice had issued a scathing report about racism in Salt Lake City’s Davis School District, where she was a student.[47]  Racism was certainly a factor in her death. Izzy told her parents that her classmates had repeatedly called her n*****, and used other racial slurs.  They told her she was ugly so often that she asked her mother to remove a birthmark on her face with a razorblade.[48]  Izzy took a bottle of Febreze to school one day; asked why, she said it was because the other kids had told her she smelled bad.[49]  And other African-American students in the school district reported similar problems.  Their classmates had criticized their skin color and their smell, called them “apes” and “slaves,” and talked about lynchings.

But Izzy was not only African American; she was also autistic—an extremely dangerous combination in American society.[50]  Although most news reports have focused on the racism at her school, Izzy’s “autism and learning disability were also allegedly targeted” in the bullying, according to her family’s lawyer.[51]  And not only by students.  Izzy told her parents that her teacher didn’t like her: “She doesn’t say ‘hi’ to me. She says ‘hi’ to all the other kids.”[52]  When Izzy asked her teacher for help, she was told to sit down, that she [the teacher] didn’t want to deal with her.[53]  Sadly, American teachers often dislike their autistic students, and this teacher’s negative reactions to Izzy may have had as much to do with her autism as with her race. 

Most U.S. schools already have anti-bullying programs in place, but these programs don’t work very well.[54]  Bullying is a complex issue, with social, emotional, intellectual, and institutional components.  Much more research and many more trials will need to be done to find interventions that work.  But funding for such efforts must be found.  It is clearly long past time for American schools to face up to their bullying problem:  year after year our kids are killing themselves because of it.  More specifically, we need programs that help children with autism—those most vulnerable to both bullying and suicidality.  Unless our schools can find and implement programs that actually work, more children will die.  Like Izzy Tichenor.   Taylor Ibarra.  Kennedy LeRoy.[55] Too many.


[1] “Mother Sues Burleson ISD [Independent School District] After Son’s Suicide, Alleging School Took No Action in Bullying,” NBC Dallas-Fort Worth Channel 5 News, updated July 31, 2020:  https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=burleson+texas+suicide.

[2] O. Shtayermann, “Peer Victimization in Adolescents and Young Adults Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome:  A Link to Depressive Symptomatology, Anxiety Symptomatology, and Suicidal Ideation,” Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing 30 (2007), 87-197; Benjamin Zablotsky, Catherine Bradshaw, Connie Anderson, and Paul Law, “The Association between Bullying and the Psychological Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 34 (2013), 1-8; S. Mayes, A. Gorman, J. Hillwig-Garcia, and E. Syed, “Suicide Ideation and Attempts in Children with Autism,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7 (2013),109–119, 2013; Danielle Ung, et al., “The Relationship between Peer Victimization and the Psychological Characteristics of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 32 (2016), 70-79.  See also the personal accounts of Hello07, in the “People With Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, January 19, 2011:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165; redrobin62, in the “Is Suicide Common In People With Aspergers?” discussion on the same website, April 23, 2015: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=280538.

[3] Kayla Epstein, “A teen with autism attempted suicide after bullies told her to ‘die.’ Her family is suing the school,” The Washington Post ,May 30, 2019.  Compare the “Why Are People Telling Me to Kill Myself?” (2017) and “I Was Jus Bullied, Called a Retard & Told To Go Kill Myself” (2015) discussions on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=341134, and http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=299688.

[4] PunkyKat, in the “People With Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, January 19, 2011: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165 .

[5] On the reasons behind bullying autistics, see Rebekah Heinrichs, Perfect Targets:  Asperger Syndrome and Bullying (Shawnee Mission, KS:  Autism Asperger Publishing, 2003), as well as the articles cited below.

[6] Horsegirl, in the “Not Sure What I Should Do About This…” discussion on the AutismForums website, September 25, 2018:  https://www.autismforums.com/threads/not-sure-what-i-should-do-about-this.27179/#post-549051.

[7] For comparison with neurotypical children and children with other special needs, see Jessica Schroeder, et al., “Shedding Light on a Pervasive Problem:  A Review of Research on Bullying Experiences Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 44 (2014), 1522-26; Neil Humphrey and Judith Hebron, “Bullying of Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Conditions:  A ‘State of the Field’ Review,” International Journal of Inclusive Education 19 (2015), 849.  For comparison with obese children, see Ryan Adams, Somer Bishop, and Julie Taylor, “Negative Peer Experiences in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities 52 (2017), 75-107.

[8] M. C. Cappadocia, et al., “Bullying Experiences Among Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 42 (2012), 267 and 271; Neil Humphrey and Judith Hebron, “Bullying of Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Conditions:  A ‘State of the Field’ Review,” International Journal of Inclusive Education 19 (2015), 849.

[9] Victim of bullying, IdahoRose, in the “How Did Your Teacher’s Deal with Bullies?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, December 24, 2010: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=146798.

[10] LeeAnderson, in the “How Did Your Teacher’s Deal with Bullies?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, December 24, 2010: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=146798.

[11] Cyberbullying Research Center, “Helping Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder When Bullied or Cyberbullied,” September 14, 2016:  https://cyberbullying.org/helping-kids-autism-spectrum-disorder-bullied-cyberbullied.

[12] Amy Kawata, “Vigil held for 14- year old Taylor Ibarra in hopes to prevent teenage bullying and suicide,” WMBF News (Myrtle Beach), January 21, 2018: https://www.wmbfnews.com/story/37312824/vigil-held-for-14-year-old-taylor-ibarra-in-hopes-to-prevent-teenage-bullying-and-suicide/.

[13] Verdandi, in the “How Did Your Teacher’s Deal with Bullies?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, December 24, 2010:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=146798.  See also Pandora_Box, in the same discussion, December 24, 2010.

[14] Pandora_Box, in the “How Did Your Teacher’s Deal with Bullies?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, December 24, 2010: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=146798.  See also CreativeInfluenza, in the same discussion, December 24, 2010.

[15] Some examples of the negative consequences of reporting:  Sparrow Rose Jones, No You Don’t: Essays from an Unstrange Mind (Self-published, 2013), p. 94; MightyMorphin, in the “If You Were Bullied At School . . . “ discussion on the Wrong Planet website, July 22, 2012:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=204456&start=45; JoeDaBro, in the “My School Hates Autism” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, May 27, 2013:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=231793.

[16] “Parents of Child with Autism File Bullying Lawsuit Against Omaha, Ark. School District,”  KY3 Television (Springfield, Missouri), December 12, 2017:  http://www.ky3.com/content/news/Parents-of-child-with-autism-file-bullying-lawsuit-against-Omaha-AR-School-District–463754753.html.

[17] ladyelaine, in the “Why School Sucked” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, December 29, 2017:  https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=357585&start=45.

[18] Carl Willis, “Mother Says Son Was Sprayed with Lysol by Teacher,” WSB television (Atlanta, Georgia), November 14, 2017: http://www.whio.com/news/national/mother-says-son-with-autism-was-sprayed-with-lysol-teacher/MoQdOQjYHI7i4NA35prrLJ/.

[19] Liz Weber, “A special education teacher gave her autistic student a year-end award: ‘Most annoying’,” The Washington Post, June 4, 2019:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/06/04/indiana-teacher-bailly-preparatory-academy-gives-autistic-student-most-annoying-award/.

[20] Emily Rueb, “A School Put an Autistic Boy’s Desk in a Bathroom, Setting Off a Debate on Stigmas,” The New York Times, September 24, 2019:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/us/autistic-boy-bathroom-toilet-desk.html.

[21] Lee Moran, “See It:  Teacher Films Herself, Principal Teasing Autistic Boy Stuck in Chair,” New York Daily News, February 26, 2014:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/teacher-films-principal-teasing-autistic-boy-article-1.1702106.

[22] Kayla Dimick, “Lawsuit claims SPS [Southfield Public Schools] teacher humiliated student with autism,” The Southfield Sun March 8, 2017:  https://www.candgnews.com/news/lawsuit-claims-sps-teacher-humiliated-student-autism-99915.

[23] It was later pulled from the Autism Daily News website because of the outcry against it.

[24] Jennifer, “A Response to the Ten Perks Children with Autism Get From Bullying,” on the Autistic Giraffe Party  (now simply known as Giraffe Party) Facebook page, October 14, 2015: https://www.facebook.com/autisticpartygiraffe/posts/429266380617441.

[25] On the high levels of anxiety among autistic children and adolescents overall, see J. Wood, and K. Gadow, “Exploring the Nature and Function of Anxiety in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 17 (2010), 281-292.

[26] J.T. Dabaggian, “Why Karen Kabaki-Sisto’s 10 ‘Perks’ for bullied autistic kids is bull,” Medium magazine, October 16, 2015:   https://medium.com/@jtdabbagian/why-karen-kabaki-sisto-s-10-perks-for-bullied-autistic-kids-is-bull-7f14d97aabf4.

[27] “There Are No Perks to Being Bullied,” on the Purpleaspie blog, October 16, 2015:  https://purpleaspie.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/there-are-no-perks-to-being-bullied/.  See also Ian Nicholson, “Ten Things THIS Autistic Kid Learned from Being Bullied, on the Digital Hyperlexic blog, October 15, 2015:  https://thedigitalhyperlexic.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/ten-things-this-autistic-kid-learned-from-being-bullied/.

[28] S.M. Neumeier, “Bullying is abuse, and abuse has no perks,” on the Silence Breaking Sound website, October 15, 2015: https://silencebreakingsound.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/bullying-is-abuse-and-abuse-has-no-perks/.

[29] Alex Forshaw, “Bullying:  Resurrecting Buried Trauma,” on the My Autistic Dance blog, October 18, 2015:  https://myautisticdance.blog/2015/10/18/bullying-resurrecting-buried-trauma/.

[30]

[31] SchrodingersMeerkat, in the “Is Suspension Really a Punishment” discussion on the AutismForums website, November 29, 2017:  https://www.autismforums.com/threads/is-suspension-really-a-punishment.22893/#post-455520.

[32] IndieSoul, in the “Aspergers and Social Anxiety Disorder?” on the Wrong Planet website, July 3, 2012:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=202798.

[33] Iknewyouweretrouble, in the “Were You Bullied in School?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, June 27, 2013:  https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=231102&start=15; see also franknfurter’s contribution to the “What Were You Like in Elementary School?” discussion, again on the Wrong Planet website:  “i also had panic attacks a lot, and was bullied, it was not a time i care to remember, only emotions about elementary/primary school i remember feeling was anxiety” (https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=226220).

[34] IndieSoul, in the “Aspergers and Social Anxiety Disorder?” on the Wrong Planet website, July 3, 2012:   http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=202798; see also Oten’s contribution to the “Were You Bullied in School?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, May 24, 2013:  https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=231102; NerdyKid’s contribution to the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, January 19, 2011: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165; xxautisticfoolxx’s contribution to the “Unable to deal with the cruelty of life” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, March 1, 2018:  https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=360970.

[35] School bullying has been identified as one potential cause of PTSD in the general population:  T. Idsoe, A. Dyregrov, and E. Idsoe, “Bullying and PTSD Symptoms,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 40 (2012), 901-11; T. Gumpel, “Prolonged Stress, PTSD, and Depression Among School Aggressors and Victims,” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma 25 (2016), 180-96.  Little research has been done on school bullying and PTSD among autistic individuals; see only C. Kerns, C. Newschaffer, and S. Berkowitz (2015). “Traumatic Childhood Events and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 45(2015), 3475-3486.  The authors include bullying as one of the potential sources of traumatic stress.

[36] Ameriblush, in the “Remembering years of bullying” discussion on the AutismForums website, December 3, 2017:  https://www.autismforums.com/threads/remembering-years-of-bullying.22944/#post-456806.

[37] Jellybean, in the “Complex PTSD As Result of Severe Bullying” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, July 24, 2009:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=47533&start=45.

[38] This_Amoeba, in the “People Normalizing Bullying You Got As A Child” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, February 4, 2017: https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=336587.

[39] Hanyo, in the “If You Were Bullied at School, Did It . . .” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, July 1, 2013:  https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=234399.

[40] Daedal, in the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, January 19, 2011:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165.  See also J.T. Dabaggian, “Why Karen Kabaki-Sisto’s 10 “Perks” for bullied autistic kids is bull.” Medium magazine, October 16, 2015:  https://medium.com/@jtdabbagian/why-karen-kabaki-sisto-s-10-perks-for-bullied-autistic-kids-is-bull-7f14d97aabf4.

[41] Kirsten, “Bullying . . . The Real Problem . . . An Aspergian Woman’s Perspective,” on the Wrong Planet website, 2017:  http://wrongplanet.net/bullying-the-real-problem-an-aspergian-womans-perspective/.

[42] IHaveAspergers,” in the “Is Suicide Common In People with Aspergers?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, April 20, 2015:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=280538.

[43] hello07, in the “People with Apergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website, January 18, 2011:  http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165.

[44] S. Mayes, A. Gorman, J. Hillwig-Garcia, and E. Syed, “Suicide Ideation and Attempts in Children with Autism,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7 (2013),109–119, 2013.  A more recent study suggests that bullying multiplies the risk by two:  Rachel Holden, et al., “Investigating Bullying as a Predictor of Suicidality in a Clinical Sample of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Autism Research 13 (2020), 988-997.

[45] Kateryna Fury, “Why Bullying Isn’t Healthy for ANYONE,” on her Textual Fury blog, October 15, 2015: http://snip.ly/oLlW#https://textualfury.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/why-bullying-isnt-healthy-for-anyone-a-post-intended-for-karen-kabaki-sisto-trigger-warning-for-everyone-else-also-i-cussed-a-bit/.  T

[46] The Tichernor family’s lawyer, quoted in Elizabeth Joseph, “10-year-old Utah autistic student dies by suicide weeks after scathing DOJ report on school district,” CNN News, November 13, 2020:  https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/us/isabella-izzy-tichenor-utah-bullying-claims-suicide/index.html.

[47] Elizabeth Joseph, “10-year-old Utah autistic student dies by suicide weeks after scathing DOJ report on school district,” CNN News, November 13, 2020:  https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/us/isabella-izzy-tichenor-utah-bullying-claims-suicide/index.html;  “Justice Department Reaches Settlement to Remedy Severe Racial Harassment of Black and Asian-American Students in Utah School District,” U.S. Department of Justice, Justice News, October 21, 2021:  https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-settlement-remedy-severe-racial-harassment-black-and-asian.

[48] Austin Facer, “‘It strikes a lot of chords’: Izzy Tichenor’s family’s lawyer speaks on her case, plans to take it to federal court,” on ABC4, Salt Lake City, Utah, December 9, 2021: https://www.abc4.com/news/digital-exclusives/it-strikes-a-lot-of-chords-izzy-tichenors-familys-lawyer-speaks-on-her-case-plans-to-take-it-to-federal-court/.

[49] Elizabeth Joseph, “10-year-old Utah Black and autistic student dies by suicide weeks after scathing DOJ report on school district,” CNN News, November 13, 2020:  https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/us/isabella-izzy-tichenor-utah-bullying-claims-suicide/index.html.

[50] Leonard Pitts, “When Should We Teach Kids About Race? Must Be Nice to Have a Choice,”
 The Miami Herald, November 12, 2021 (behind paywall);  reprinted on Newsbreakhttps://www.newsbreak.com/news/2432400515601/when-should-we-teach-kids-about-race-must-be-nice-to-have-a-choice-opinion.

[51] Austin Facer, “‘It strikes a lot of chords’: Izzy Tichenor’s family’s lawyer speaks on her case, plans to take it to federal court,” ABC4 News, Salt Lake City, December 9, 2021:  https://www.abc4.com/news/digital-exclusives/it-strikes-a-lot-of-chords-izzy-tichenors-familys-lawyer-speaks-on-her-case-plans-to-take-it-to-federal-court/.

[52] Lauren Sue, “’I Let Them Work It Out”:  Vile Teacher Allegedly Tells Mom When Black Student Told Her [the teacher] Skin Stinks,” The Daily Kos, November 11, 2021:  https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/11/11/2063667/-DOJ-declares-Utah-district-a-safe-haven-for-racists-weeks-before-Black-10-year-old-commits-suicide; Elizabeth Joseph, “10-year-old Utah autistic student dies by suicide weeks after scathing DOJ report on school district,” CNN News, November 13, 2020:  https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/12/us/isabella-izzy-tichenor-utah-bullying-claims-suicide/index.html.

[53] Keith Reed, “Black Fifth Grader’s Suicide Blamed on Bullying,” The Root, November 10, 2021:  https://www.theroot.com/black-fifth-grader-s-suicide-blamed-on-bullying-1848034647.  This part of the article is a quotation from an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, which I have not been able to reach because of their paywall.

[54] “Overall, the existing educational interventions had very small to small effect sizes on traditional bullying and cyberbullying perpetration”:  Esperanza Ng, et al., “The Effectiveness of Educational Interventions on Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying Among Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Trauma, Violence & Abuse 23:1 (2022), 132-51.  See also H. Gaffney, et al., “What works in anti-bullying programs? Analysis of effective intervention components,” Journal of School Psychology, 85 (2021), 37– 56.

[55] Los Angeles one.

4 thoughts on ““Autistics Aren’t Welcome Here”: The Bullying of Autistic Students in America’s Schools

    1. Hi Adelaide,
      Actually, that note shouldn’t have been there at all–the sentence was supposed to lead into the next quotation, which is followed by the correct footnote. Thanks for noticing–corrected now.
      Best, Megan

      1. Really appreciate that, Megan!

        However ftn30 is still there as a tag.

        Read the relevant sentence.

        [the one that begins: “After I was suspended…”]

        Ah – so it was supposed to go to another paragraph.

      2. PS I am not sure whether PunkyKat and Schrodinger’s Meerkat are the same person… [only on a different forum – PunkyKat on WrongPlanet and Schrodinger’s Meerkat on the Autism Forums].

        And what is the “Los Angeles One”? Is it a TV programme – a news programme? [reference to footnote 51].

        There is text and then there is hypertext!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s