Sadly, bullying is something that kids with special needs are much too familiar with. Studies have shown that they are two to three times more likely to be bullied than neurotypical children. It is up to parents, teachers, and caregivers to make sure they have strategies in place to protect them. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Stay observant. If a child starts behaving differently, withdrawing or acting out, or stops being interested in the activities she normally likes, that could be a sign that there’s a problem.
  • In the case of a child who’s verbal, try to figure out the problem by talking…and listening! It require extra reassurance and patience. Stress that the child is “reporting,” not “tattling,” and that it’s important that they do so. Make sure he knows that it’s not his fault. Tell the child it’s up to grown-ups to keep him safe, and that everyone will work together to make that happen.
  • Depending on the child, you may be able to offer some simple strategies, such as saying loudly, “That’s not okay,” or enlisting the help of a nearby grownup, or having a classroom “buddy” (or several!). Most peers, when given the chance, want to be part of the solution.
  • Enlist the help of staff, professionals, other parents and children. Brainstorm ideas. The more people buy in to the strategy, the more likely it is to work.
  • Share the story of Julia’s adventures at camp and think about ways each one of us can be a friendship superstar. Read the story again. Ask kids to look for pictures that show people supporting each other or offering a friendly hand. Ask, “What are the ways you help out friends and classmates?”