WEDNESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Among teen boys with an
autism spectrum disorder, those who are considered high-functioning
are confronted with a greater degree of bullying behavior than
their "typically developing" peers, new research indicates.
The observation specifically reflects upon boys aged 12 to 18,
and refers to the kind of physical aggression, name-calling,
intimidation, rumor-mongering and group exclusion that characterize
The finding is slated to be reported Wednesday at the
International Meeting for Autism Research in San Diego, by a study
team led by Elizabeth A. Kelley, assistant professor in the
psychology department at Queens University in Kingston,
To explore the subject, the investigators focused on 68
adolescent boys, 31 of whom were diagnosed with an autism spectrum
All the study participants completed questionnaires designed to
gauge their IQ, language skills, emotional intelligence and prior
"peer victimization" experiences. Parents were also asked to
discuss their child's ability to manage social interactions.
Children with autism were found to have lower IQ scores and were
less adept at making appropriate judgment calls, the study
Judgment skills were not found to have a direct impact on
bullying risk. However, for all of the study participants, the
ability to manage stress and maintain emotional control
did have a bearing on the risk for experiencing peer
victimization, the researchers found.
"Difficulty modulating emotional responses appropriately and a lack of ability to cope with stress appear to place adolescents with and without an autism spectrum disorder at risk for peer victimization," the study authors concluded.
Because children with autism were less able to manage their
emotional responses and stress, and were not skillful at reflecting
upon and expressing their own thoughts and feelings or
understanding those of their peers, they were therefore at greater
risk of being bullied than typically developing boys, the findings
Experts note that research presented at meetings should be
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
The Nemours Foundation has more on