Tuesday, August 19, 2014


If you haven't heard or seen the hashtag #JusticeforAaron yet, it represents justice for the brutal assault of 16 year old Aaron, a child with Autism. If you haven't seen the video you can watch it here (but just know its disgusting I had to stop half way through). Many of my friends and family, knowing my passion for working with students with Autism, asked me my thoughts on the situation. My heart goes out to that poor boy. He has probably been the target of these ignorant high schoolers for a long time without ever knowing it. And, although I wish it didn't happen, it raises awareness to an important question........How often is this happening to these students? 

Many people with autism have trouble recognizing social cues, which can sometimes make them awkward around others. They also often engage in repetitive behaviors and tend to be hypersensitive to environmental stimuli. They can also sometimes become easily anxious or frustrated. These unique tendencies make them easy targets for school bullying. Research shows that bullies target:
  • Anyone who looks or acts different.
  • Small in size 
  • Those that don't participate in popular extra curricular activities
  • Individuals that are often anxious or shy. 
Students with Autism tend to display many if not all of these characteristics and as a result are easy targets for bullies. So how often is this happening to students like Aaron?  Research says that 46% of autistic children in middle and high school told their parents they were victimized at school within the previous year, compared with just over 10% of children in the general population. 

So how do we stop this?............................


  • Always be aware of whats going on with your students in and out of the classroom
  • Create a safe and supportive environment for students that encourages supportive and friendly behavior. (aka make being a good friend the "cool" thing to do)
  • Reward students with preferred items/activities/events for being a good/kind friend.
  • STOP bullying on the spot! If you are a witness, don't wait to report it. Provide immediate consequences to the student with clear explanation of what they did that was considered bullying and why it was wrong. DO NOT ignore any (even early signs of bullying) 
  • Teach students problem solving skills using a calm voice, rationale, and good communication (this can be an extremely challenging area for students with Autism so practice practice practice!) 
  • Educate ourselves on Autism and teach our children to tolerate and appreciate uniqueness in individuals! 
Aaron, thank you for being brave sharing your heartbreaking story with us and raising awareness.  I hope you know that so many people love you and are praying for you and hope you NEVER go through anything like this again. <3 

I encourage you all to like his Facebook Page 

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