How to Stop a Bully #bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  It is a fact that autistic people are bullied at greater than average rates and are often goaded into meltdowns or other behaviors so that bullies can make fun of them. A report from the Interactive Autism Network showed that 67 percent of autistic children between the ages of 6 and 15 have reported being bullied.

As Christina MacNeal pointed out in a blog she wrote on bullying many times people on the autism spectrum don’t even realize they are being bullied. Bullying is an imbalance of power. Bullies want us to react so they can exert power over us.

It is important for autistic people to realize first when they are being bullied and secondly how to react to a bully. Many times the best reaction is to walk (or if need be) run away. Seek help from a trusted adult.

As part of Bullying Prevention Month The Art of Autism is dedicated to giving autistic people and their families resources that may help them with this widespread and pervasive problem. We’ve asked participants to share their blog posts and art about bullying.

Here is a video that has gone viral on Facebook about how to deal with a bully.

This video shows a person engaging with the bully. Often times it is better to walk away and don’t respond. Bullies gain power through a reaction from you. There is a saying “Stop, Walk, and Talk.” Stay calm, don’t fight or talk back, and report what is happening to you to a trusted adult.

Bullies are insecure people who want to take away your power so they can feel better about themselves. Don’t let them!

The Anti-Bullying poster in the header image can be purchased here. Video courtesy of “How to Stop a Bully”

5 replies on “How to Stop a Bully #bullying”
  1. says: Cheri Rauser

    I absolutely disagree with the idea of walking away from and not challenging the bully, autistic or not. That is old school thinking about bullying. If you look at the work of the incomparable Carol Gray and Michele G. Winner and all the other people that supported our family while my young autistic daughter was being bullied – challenging the bully is the best defence. Going to trusted adults – who are they? – the teachers – the school yard attendants ? – often they are part of the problem – teaching my daughter to trust that these people would help and protect her almost resulted in her complete destruction by Grade 2.

    Challenging the children and adolescents who tormented her to their faces, insisting on being treated as human by the adults who were charged with keeping her safe and learning how to let the bullies know she wouldn’t take the crap and would go up the chain of command and fight back with them and anyone else in positions of authority who turned a blind eye – that is how one handles a bully – giving the power to the bullied is how one challenges and defeats bullies

    Don’t walk away, don’t take the crap, let them know you know what they are doing – work your way up the system and don’t expect anyone else to protect you – that is best defence against the bullies –

    teach all our kids to recognize bullying -one step at a time – talk about their experiences – validate them for what they are – bullying – give your children power to stand up to – not accept the bullying – and to be proud of who they are

    bullying prevention shouldn’t be about making sure our kids don’t have an autistic tantrum in public – yes – they are probably being goaded as the bully knows what will happen – but that should not be the focus – stop and walk away to prevent a tantrum –

    we know for a fact that autistic people are not targeted because they autistic – just as we know other people with disabilities are not overwhelmingly represented in the bullying statistics – why is that? – because they have tantrums? – no, because they are perceived as not being connected to the group – and why is that? – because of difficulties in joining and being seen as part of the group –

    so – how to prevent bullying – by teaching our kids to fight back, not change their behaviour and for our culture to develop strategies to include autistic kids -tantrums and all – into the group- Downs people don’t have higher rates of bullying – so why should autistic people be told that to prevent bullying they have to walk away, not talk to prevent tantrums and give their power to someone else to protect them? –

    we don’t give our power away by acknowledging bullying and telling people off – we give power away by staying small and silent and smiling and walking away and asking for help within the institution – by assuming that the bully sits outside the broader culture of the situation – the bully doesn’t operate in a silo – they are an extension of that culture – a culture of excluding the autistic person –

    Stop, Walk, Talk – that strategy is how bullies get voted into political office and wind up running countries – it might be hard – it might be dangerous – but its the only way to deal with bullies – stamp em out where it starts –

  2. Cheri, this would make a great blog. Can you write a blog for the Art of Autism on your commentary here.

    I do believe in empowering those but sometimes bullies can be dangerous. I know one of our participants Steve Selpal who passed this last year empowered himself when he was a teen by blowing up the bridge that separated the bullies from his own home. I do agree that we should not always trust adults to do the right thing. They often are the problem. That’s why I shared the film about How to Stop A Bully.

    I would appreciate if you would write a blog that we can post separate from this comment (people often don’t read the comments).

    Thank you!


  3. says: Aspie girl

    Learning self-defense is excellent for an aspie. I used to be so terrified of bullying, I’d think twice before going to a new place, getting a job. It gets in the way of living! I learned marshal arts, and it boosted my self-esteem.

    Another thing to do is buy a huge dog. Doesn’t have to be a mean one. I’d recommend a gentle giant, but even the most docile dogs will protect their owners.

    And there’s always pepper spray.

  4. says: Christina MacNeal

    When I wrote this blog, I tried to do my best to put forth personal experience, what worked for me, what did not and changes that could have been made. My point in going to trusted adults ie a support person, parent, sibling, teacher whom ever you can so you are not alone in this, that only makes it worse. I understand challenging a bully but not everyone on the spectrum has that option and that does not work all on its own. Its a great idea to just not take crap, but that is easier said then done. The sometimes hardships of communication, behaviors, and awareness play huge parts in being autistic and being bullied. But the whole point was to bring awareness, perspective, experience, information and to let someone else know they are not alone. I couldn’t include every angle as it had to fit into a blog. I am writing this October a second piece that will explore the issue more in depth and hopefully shed more insight and information along with different perspectives. It has been a while since I have posted anything so its over due and I look forward to the feed back good or bad because at least it means people are talking about the issue and that matters. Best Christina MacNeal

    1. says: admin

      Awesome Christina, I look forward to reading it. You are a very good writer and this blog post has been very popular on our website. We are now paying autistic writers.

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