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Our Response to Violence Towards Children on the Autism Spectrum

September 1st, 2020


AutismBC expresses concerns about violence towards children on the autism spectrum.

We at AutismBC would like to express our concern regarding the information provided to the public about two recent incidents involving children on the autism spectrum. In both cases, the children engaged in behaviour that could be perceived as aggressive and the adult that the behaviour was directed towards reacted by becoming aggressive toward the child. In British Columbia, 1 in 40 people between the ages of 6 and 18 have a diagnosis of autism. While we understand that physical contact of any sort can be upsetting to others, particularly during a global pandemic where physical distancing is being emphasized, it is important to understand how to respond to these individuals in a caring and empathetic way.

People on the autism spectrum can often display behaviours that appear aggressive in nature, when, in fact, they are driven by other factors such as:

  • anxiety,
  • a lack of comprehension of the situation,
  • a lack of awareness of others in their environment.

If a member of the public has an unexpected interaction with a child with special/diverse needs, we hope that they would reach out to the parent or caregiver with that child to ask how best to respond and/or to give the child space to allow their parent or caregiver to intervene on their behaviour as appropriate.

People on the autism spectrum need opportunities to be in the community and to interact with less familiar people to gain skills and abilities. Aggressive behaviour of any kind, particularly of an adult to a child, is unacceptable under any circumstances. It is our sincere hope that the public will continue to educate themselves and learn to approach perceived misbehaviour with calmness and understanding. AutismBC has created information on how to respond to individuals on the autism spectrum. Please follow this link to our website for further information.

Here’s another resource about Autism:

Understanding the Autism Spectrum

Related News Articles:

Man punches teen with autism and police rule it self-defence, family shocked.

Witnesses sought after unprovoked attack on B.C. teenager with autism


Our media release

Assault on teen with autism in Richmond, B.C. has advocacy group pleading for understanding


About AutismBC: We are a grassroots organization founded in 1975 to support people on the autism spectrum and their families. Since our humble beginnings, we have grown to become one of the most trusted non-profit organizations for autism in BC. We empower, support, and connect the autism community in BC by supporting autistic individuals by providing parents and communities with knowledge and by engaging with people on the autism spectrum to create stronger, more diverse communities. 

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