Education staff working in mainstream and special schools will inevitably come across instances of bullying. 

Here we look at why autistic students are more likely to be bullied, how you can help, and at cyberbullying.

Why autistic pupils are more likely to be bullied

Autistic children and young people can be more vulnerable to bullies because they may:

  • have difficulty communicating and lack the expected social skills
  • find it harder to predict other people's behaviour, interpret body language or facial expressions and guess what they’re thinking or feeling
  • display behaviour that challenges or that isn’t understood such as stimming
  • find it hard to form and maintain friendships, leaving them socially isolated.

Bullying can lead to an increase in anxiety at school and school refusal.

How you can help them

Here are some ways you can help:

Read more about bullying

Cyberbullying

Autistic children and young people can find social networking, forums, emailing, instant messaging, texting and online gaming an easier way to socialise.

Anyone can experience cyberbullying, but children and young people on the autism spectrum may not be able to recognise it as that due to a lack of social understanding.

Read more on cyberbullying.

Further help from our charity

Bullying and autism spectrum disorders a guide for school staff.
Bullying guide for parents and young people
Helping pupils with a demand avoidant profile at school
Network Autism - Autism and cyberbullying: a personal perspective
MyWorld free teacher resources
NAS webinar - Promoting inclusion, preventing bullying
Autism resource pack for school staff

Other Resources

Bullying UK effects of cyberbullying
Anti-bullying alliance
Kidscape  Anti bullying training
OpenLearn  “That's so gay!" Homophobic language and school
Dimensions  free teaching resources to help tackle hate crime

Last reviewed: 15 May 2017.