Therapy center helps disabled victims of bullying

April 1, 2012 7:59:26 AM PDT
Children with disabilities often are targets for bullies. Research shows they are bulled about 60 percent of the time.

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, parents, victims and professionals are working together to raise awareness and provide prevention.

Laura Baumann, 21, says she has been a victim of bullying.

" I've been not just verbally bullied, you know, where people call me names -- that happened a lot -- but I've been physically bullied. I mean, when I was younger, maybe starting from age 6 to 8, until I switched to a different school," she said.

Laura has Asperger Syndrome. Her mom, Karen, says kids started to pick on her because of her disability.

"She couldn't do the work though but was very intelligent because she would raise her hands in class before the teacher even finished questions because she knew the answer. All the kids started snickering and laughing. The kids in class quickly learned that they could get her to do things that would get her in trouble and they thought that would be funny," said Karen.

Karen knew her daughter was a victim of bullying when she noticed some changes.

"She went from a really great smile? to in high school, it got so bad that she didn't want to get out of bed and went into major depression. She's 6 ft. tall and 130 lbs. and just didn't want to live anymore, " the mother said.

Tamara Daley's 10-year-old daughter has autism and ADHD.

"The problem erupted when she was unaware about what was going on around her and didn't realize that it was negative approach to her as opposed to someone being her friend, and through that we saw a lot of social issues," Tamara said.

" We do see this great discrepancy between children who have a neuro-development disability versus neurotypical peers and that they are at definite risk to be bullied," said pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Gregory Stast.

"If a parent suspects that they're child is being bullied by a peer, I think the first thing to do is bring awareness to others, meaning talk to the teacher, talk to the academic staff and also talk to the [parents of the] chiled who's doing the bullying," said Dr. Stast.

Marriage and family therapist Beth Chung also suggests it's a team effort.

"I work with the individual to provide counseling, address any anxieties depression and fears about going back to school," Chung said. "I also work with the parents to help them in how to best support their children and how to intervene and talk with the school, provide a safety plan to prevent bullying from happening again, and we also believe in work with the school system."

"You know it still haunts me to this day, and I also want to say to people who are bullied ? oh, not only does it haunt me to this day, but I actually get nightmares and flashbacks about it -- and to people who are bullied, they are often told to tell a teacher or a parent or trusted adult," Laura said.

To learn more about bullying and children with disabilities at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, visit