Sibling bullying of autistic children

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22 Jul 2019, 12:53 am

Autistic children more likely to be involved in bullying – study

Children with autism are more likely to be bullied by both their siblings and their schoolmates, meaning time spent at home is no reprieve from victimisation, according to a new study.

Researchers also found that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of sibling bullying compared with those without autism, also known as neurotypical children.

The study, a rare piece of research investigating sibling bullying and autism, used a sample of more than 8,000 kids, more than 231 of whom had ASD. It drew on data from the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows the lives of about 19,000 teenagers born across the UK in 2000-01.

The children were asked how often they were picked on or hurt on purpose by their brothers or sisters and peers, and how often they were the perpetrators of such acts. The study found that, at age 11, two-thirds of children with ASD reported being involved in some form of sibling bullying, compared with half of children without autism.

While bullying got less frequent for children in both groups by the time they reached 14, autistic children were still more likely to be involved in two-way sibling bullying.

Lead author of the study, Dr Umar Toseeb from the University of York, pointed out that the research went beyond the usual sibling squabbling that was a normal part of growing up, but looked at children who had persistent conflict with their siblings.

While other studies have shown that siblings are likely to speak positively of their relationship with their brother or sister with autism, Toseeb said it was natural for siblings to compete for attention in families, especially when one child had higher needs and was therefore maybe getting more time from parents.

He said: “From an evolutionary perspective, siblings may be considered competitors for parental resources such as affection, attention and material goods – children with autism might get priority access to these limited parental resources leading to conflict and bullying between siblings.”

According to the research, those children who had picked on or been bullied by a sibling, regardless of whether they had autism or not, were more likely to experience emotional and behavioural difficulties later in their adolescence.

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22 Jul 2019, 1:11 am

Yikes! I'm glad I didn't have siblings close to my age. I had one sister who was ten-and-a-half years older than me, more like an aunt than like a sister, and who moved out of the house when she was about nineteen.

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22 Jul 2019, 3:26 am

I'm on the spectrum but I bullied my own brother (who's also on the spectrum) when I was a teenager. Well, when I had meltdowns I took my frustrations out on him, and I got jealous if my mum gave him more attention than me. Thankfully I grew out of it and I now feel guilty about it, but he's forgiven me because he knows I do love him, and I do.

But anyway, does the article apply to cousins as well? I wonder if some Aspies are bullied by their cousins. Fortunately growing up my cousins were like my mates (we were all around similar age), and they accepted me for who I was. When I got to adolescence my closest cousin's friends bullied me, and my cousin seemed to let them. But I think it was because I was unable to deal with the stupidity and cattiness of teenage girls. Also my cousin failed to find nicer girls, probably because she had rather low self-esteem.

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22 Jul 2019, 3:44 am

Is this supposed to be news? It's in human nature to be hostile and on guard about those who are very different, and kids are less likely to know that the hostility should, according to social rules, be hidden, so of course autistic children, who are different, get targeted.


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22 Jul 2019, 3:52 am

My sister never tried to bully me in ways that others would. She just knows how volatile I could get. I just am.
Didn't bullied her either though. Other than rants and driving her away -- I don't usually take things out on her, I'd rather be alone back then. Just away from anyone.
Almost never did any form of malicious harassment from one another.

Still, I barely ever played a role of an elder sibling to her. Still don't have this typical sibling relationship. Distant and yet familiar, just 'not' strained nor conflicting. She just cannot rely much on me whether I want it that way or not.

Pranks and practical jokes, yes. But something psychological and intentional -- seems we both have the same lack of intentions for different reasons.
As I had said in another thread, no one's pulling the 'autism card' in my family. No one ever called me out for my differences unless it's seriously wrong, which hadn't happened so far within the household.

And for all purposes and intention, she's the younger sibling -- and she's the needier one, and I would rather had it stay that way instead of the other way around.
Don't want any competition from her, at worst I want complete separation just like how I want towards anyone which includes my own sibling, not 'more' than 'anyone' nor her.

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22 Jul 2019, 4:16 am

I have had a life-long intense rivalry with this sibling, and it really wears down on both of us, but due to their deep knowledge of human interaction and being a neurotypical, I am at a social disadvantage.

I sometimes assume my sibling is an undiagnosed Sociopath, and their manipulative techniques are brutal. They match every last symptom, but they're high functioning enough that they don't harm anything. I am the total opposite of every trait my sibling has.

They have a cult-following of friends, followers, and use this all against me. I am socially isolated by choice, but in a way not having friends to back me up compared to them has been a major disadvantage in our fights. At times it's been me against hundreds of people, which really adds a whole new meaning to the word overwhelming.


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23 Jul 2019, 9:32 am

I believe I lost out on my place as the firstborn because of my differences. I got better grades than my sister, but that was the only time I felt like the firstborn daughter. I deprived my sister of a normal older sibling. I believe, if I had been normal, maybe she would still be alive and we could have grown up and grown old together.

I hate my Asperger syndrome, if I have it, for this reason, among others. My entire potential as a human being was wasted.

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23 Jul 2019, 6:12 pm

Fireblossom wrote:
Is this supposed to be news? It's in human nature to be hostile and on guard about those who are very different, and kids are less likely to know that the hostility should, according to social rules, be hidden, so of course autistic children, who are different, get targeted.

This isn't just saying that autistic people get targeted by their siblings. It's saying that they're both more likely to be targeted or more likely to target their siblings than NTs.

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24 Jul 2019, 11:40 pm

My sister tried to control me for a few years when we were in our late teens and early 20s. I finally told her to stop abusing me.




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24 Jul 2019, 11:51 pm

Yes, I was pretty much bullied by my older brother from the day i was born.

Although, some of the bullying was very funny, and ironically, brought a lot of pleasure to all of us.
Both of us grew up with sharp wit due to his bullying.

The physically bullying did stop, when, at the age of 11 I started karate, and due to suffering from ASD.
It became my special focus, my obsession, which helped me to progress faster than normal.

Although caused me to be more of an outcast. Still, as i was also being bullied by the kids in the area that i live,
including psychologically bullied by a spoilt kid with ginger hair, who manipulated others around him using slander.

It was lucky that i started Karate, as the nasty kids would have likely tried to get me to top myself before i even had left school.

I am afraid, having ASD, makes us easy targets for the worse types of people on this planet, including those who may
portray themselves as hero's. That's the problem with life, seldom are people what their PR projects them to be, especially if their press is printed in the papers...