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Childhood Victimization in a National Sample of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

Published online on


There are a number of hidden populations in the United States whose victimization goes undetected and unreported. This study aims to assess the victimization experiences of one such population: American children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Utilizing the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ), this study obtained past‐year and lifetime prevalence rates of interpersonal violence in a sample of children with ASDs (N = 262). Results showed that almost 89% of these children had experienced an incident of victimization in their lifetime, while almost as many (82.1%) had experienced an incident within the last year. Among those who had been victimized once within the last year, 92% experienced at least a second victimization within that same time period, pointing to significant levels of poly‐victimization. Risk ratios confirm that if a child experiences an incident of victimization in the past year, s/he is at risk to experience another type of victimization during that time frame, no matter what type of initial victimization exposure was examined. Previous research specifically addressing the victimization of children with ASDs in the United States has been limited and often focuses on a specific form of victimization, such as bullying. Implications include considering the impact of exposure to multiple forms of victimization and addressing the possibility of long‐term trauma resulting from chronic exposure to victimization.