Children with autism are more likely to be bullied by their siblings and classmates, according to a new study.
Researchers had discovered that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of sibling bullying compared with those without autism.
The study drew data from the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows the lives of about 19,000 teenagers born in 2000-01 across the UK. It used a sample of more than 8,000 kids, more than 231 of whom had ASD.
Siblings and school bullies prey on children with autism
The children were asked how often they were picked on or purposely hurt by their siblings and classmates, and how often they were the perpetrators of such acts.
It was discovered that at the age of 11, two-thirds of children with ASD reported being involved in some form of sibling bullying, compared to half of the children without autism.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Umar Toseeb from the University of York, pointed out that the research examined children who had a persistent conflict with their siblings, going beyond normal sibling disagreements.
“Autistic children experience social interaction and communication difficulties, which may have implications for their relationships with siblings,” Toseeb said.
“For children, it was natural to compete for attention in families, particularly when one child had higher needs, and was, therefore, may be getting more time from parents,” he continued.
The children’s parents engaged in the research were asked questions about their children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties, focusing on their psychosocial behavior.
It also discovered that children who were harassed by a sibling were more likely to experience mental and behavioral problems later in their adolescence, regardless of whether they had autism or not.
They are calling for more resources to help autistic children and their parents identify and deal with bullying behaviors at home, particularly earlier in childhood.