Objectives To produce nationally representative estimates for rates of bullying involvement among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to compare population estimates with adolescents who have other developmental disabilities, and to identify social ecological correlates of bullying involvement.
Design Nationally representative surveys from 2001.
Setting United States.
Participants Parents of adolescents with an ASD, principals of the schools they attended, and staff members most familiar with their school programs.
Main Exposure Autism spectrum disorders.
Main Outcome Measures Parent report of victimization, perpetration, and victimization/perpetration within the past school year.
Results The prevalence rates of bullying involvement for adolescents with an ASD were 46.3% for victimization, 14.8% for perpetration, and 8.9% for victimization/perpetration. Victimization was related to having a non-Hispanic ethnicity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, lower social skills, some form of conversational ability, and more classes in general education. Correlates of perpetration included being white, having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and getting together with friends at least once a week. Victimization/perpetration was associated with being white non-Hispanic, having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and getting together with friends at least once a week.
Conclusions 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). 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.