As of 2014, it is estimated that 1 in 68 children born in the United States will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research finds that children with ASDs are victimized at disproportionately high rates compared to their typically-developing peers. Utilizing survey data from a national sample of parents of children with ASDs (n=262) and in-depth semi-structured follow up interviews with a fraction of these participants (n=40), this study indicates that there are potential risk and protective factors in a range of dimensions that may impact the likelihood of victimization among children with autism. Many factors reflected what has been found in the broader literature examining the vulnerability of people with disabilities to interpersonal crime (i.e. reliance on caretakers). However, this study also identifies factors that may be specific to individuals with autism, such as deficits in social understanding and verbal barriers that may prohibit the self-reporting of victimization.
Rebecca Pfeffer is an assistant professor at University of Houston - Downtown. Her primary research interests include underserved and vulnerable populations, victimology, and the prevention of crime through education and other noncriminal justice based systems.
The author would like to thank Dr. Nicole Rafter, Dr. Carlos Cuevas, and Dr. Amy Farrell for their support and guidance throughout this research process.
"Risk and Protective Factors for the Safety of Children with Autism: A Qualitative Study of Caregivers’ Perspectives,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 14
, Article 21.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol14/iss1/21