Bullying and the Special Needs Student
by Diane S. Kendall
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) says that sixty percent of children with learning disabilities and other special needs say they have been seriously bullied. It is a serious problem and like many "crimes" of this nature, there are probably countless other targets of bullying who have not even had a chance to report his or her suffering.
So what can you as a special needs parent do about it? The NCLD offers a list of specific suggestions for parents on what to do when your LD child is bullied. As part of that list they remind parents to know their rights and to not be afraid to exercise them. Different on that list, from the usual list of suggestions on bullying for parents, they also urge you to have a goal about bullying added to your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). That is an important thing to do, because it puts your school on notice that you fully expect them to partner with you to prevent your child from being bullied, recognizing that keeping a LD student's self esteem intact is absolutely vital for their school and life success.
Besides suggestions for preventing bullying, the site also features stories like "Teaching Others about Words that Hurt" about LD students who have overcome bullying and updates on research such as Playgrounds and Prejudice: Another Look at Bullying outlining how pervasive bullying is in the schools starting at the elementary school level with obvious implications for LD Students. Also useful, and something you might want to send to your children's teachers and school administrators is a section of the site called Facts and Myths about Bullying and Children with LD which is full of too many examples of how subtle (and not so subtle) bullying occurs at school. If you are a parent of a child with a learning difference, as I am, many of these examples many unfortunately ring true with you, but handouts like this one can remind you that you are not alone in your struggle, reinforce your resolve not to give up, and give you something from a national organization, that is well written and documented, to serve as reminder to school that you expect them to live up to their end of the bargain in supporting your LD child when it comes to bullying, as well as, their education, in general.
View Special Needs Archive