IMFAR: Boys With Autism More Likely to Be Bullied

Deficits in social and cognitive functioning may place them at higher risk

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescent boys with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have deficits in areas of social and cognitive functioning that appear to place them at higher risk of peer victimization than their counterparts without the condition, according to research presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, held from May 12 to 14 in San Diego.

Elizabeth Anne Kelley, Ph.D., of Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, and colleagues evaluated 68 adolescent boys between 11 and 18 years of age (31 with a primary ASD diagnosis and 37 typically developing) to assess deficits in various social and cognitive factors that may contribute to peer victimization in adolescent boys with and without an ASD.

The investigators found that high-functioning adolescent boys with an ASD experienced more peer victimization than their typically developing peers. In addition, adolescents with an ASD had more difficulty with the social use of language, understanding of their emotions as well as other's emotions, regulating their behavior, and reflecting on their thinking processes and behavior. The investigators also found that an adolescent's ability to manage their own stress and control their emotions predicted how frequently their peers bullied them.

"Difficulty modulating emotional responses appropriately and a lack of ability to cope with stress appear to place adolescents with and without an ASD at risk for peer victimization," the authors write.

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