National Survey Will Measure How Bullying Impacts Children with Autism

October 17, 2011
Interactive Autism Network asks families to report on bullying experiences of children with ASD

(Baltimore, MD) -- Today, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN Project) launches a national survey to study the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Bullying, a pervasive problem among youth, has attracted the national spotlight in recent months because of the lasting, and sometimes tragic, effects on children and teenagers across the country. Children with ASD are believed to be especially vulnerable targets due to their social deficits and other challenges.

Since 2007, the IAN Project (www.ianproject.org) has connected thousands of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families with researchers nationwide to accelerate the pace of autism research through an innovative online initiative housed at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. With nearly 40,000 participants today, the IAN Project has the largest pool of autism data in the world.

The Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey was developed by IAN’s autism experts in partnership with Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, Associate Director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, where she collaborates on research projects examining bullying and school climate.

"We hear so often from parents that children with ASD are easily targeted by bullies," said Dr. Paul Law, Director of the IAN Project at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "We want to hear from thousands of parents of children with ASD so that we can help policymakers and educators understand the extent of this problem and give the autism community a voice in our national conversation on bullying."

Researchers are looking to answer questions such as:

  • Compared to typical children, how much more frequently are children with ASD bullied?
  • How often are children with ASD harassed not only in the typical way, but when a bully purposely "triggers" an affected child’s meltdown?
  • How does bullying affect children with ASD?
  • What, if any, anti-bullying strategies are in place in schools, and do they make a difference for children with ASD?

Families of children with ASD, ages 6 through 15, are encouraged to take the Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey whether or not their child has been bullied so that researchers can assess a wide range of experiences, make comparisons, and evaluate risk factors. Survey participants must have a child with ASD and be enrolled in the IAN Research project. To enroll, visit www.ianproject.org.

About the Kennedy Krieger Institute:

Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 16,000 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.

Media Contact:

Mary Ellen Hackett
(202) 955-6222
mhackett@spectrumscience.com