9 In 10 Kids With Autism Bullied At School

By Shaun Heasley

Nine in 10 Massachusetts parents of kids with autism say their child has been a victim of bullying at school, a new survey finds. In over half of the cases, the bullying included being hit, kicked or chased.

The results come from an online survey conducted by Massachusetts Advocates for Children of nearly 400 parents of children with autism across the state. Findings indicate that 88 percent of children with autism have been bullied at school ranging from verbal abuse to physical contact.

Though widespread, parents indicated that schools were doing too little to address the bullying. Just one in five parents said they learned about the bullying their child experienced from the school. And, in two out of three cases, the bullying lasted for several months with most parents saying their child’s school didn’t do enough to respond.

“Children with autism spectrum disorder are especially vulnerable targets because of the nature of their disability,” says Julia Landau, senior autism center director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children. “Children on the spectrum are often viewed as atypical or different by their peers, and are generally unable to understand bullying incidents and protect themselves like other students due to the nature of ASD, which impacts communication, social and behavioral skills.”

A bill being considered in the Massachusetts legislature would address this problem by requiring individualized education plan (IEP) teams to address bullying faced by students with autism.

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Census: 1 In 20 Kids Have A Disability

By Michelle Diament

About 5 percent of school-age children in the United States have a disability, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The statistic comes from a brief released this month [November 2011] offering an in-depth look at kids ages 5 through 17 with disabilities who live in community settings.

While the Census has long collected data on this group through its annual American Community Survey, this year marks the first time that government officials analyzed the results, said Matthew Brault, a Census statistician and the author of the report.

Brault found about 2.8 million children living with cognitive, vision, hearing, ambulatory, self-care or independent difficulties in 2010, the most recent year data is available. That represents about 5 percent of the nation’s 53.9 million school-age children.

Those with special needs were most likely to have cognitive difficulties, which were reported by more than half of kids with disabilities in every geographical area of the country.

What’s more, the Census report found that children with disabilities were more likely than their typically developing peers to attend public schools rather than private. However, the number of students with special needs enrolled in public schools varied dramatically from 76.5 percent in some areas of the country to almost 100 percent in others.

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