(HealthDay News) – Nearly half of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are victims of bullying, according to research published online Sept 3 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Paul R. Sterzing, PhD, MSSW, of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a nationally representative survey of 920 parents of adolescents with an ASD to compare rates of bullying with that of adolescents with other developmental disabilities, and to identify correlates of victimization and perpetration.

Overall, 46.3% of adolescents with an ASD had been the victim of bullying (compared with 10.6% of the general population), 14.8% were the perpetrator, and 8.9% reported being both the perpetrator and victim of bullying. The researchers found that correlates of victimization included non-Hispanic ethnicity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, lower social skills, some form of conversational ability, and taking more general education classes. Perpetration of bullying correlated with being white non-Hispanic, having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and meeting with friends once a week or more.

“School-based bullying interventions need to target the core deficits of ASD (conversational ability and social skills) and comorbid conditions (eg, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder),” the authors write. “Future bullying interventions also need to address the higher rates of victimization that occur in general education settings by increasing social integration into protective peer groups and increasing the empathy and social skills of typically developing students toward their peers with an ASD.”

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