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2.2. Give reasons why people with autism may be vulnerable to: bullying, exploitation.

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People with autism are particularly vulnerable to bullying and exploitation due to several intrinsic and societal factors that affect their interactions and perception within society.

Bullying often arises from a lack of understanding or tolerance of differences. Individuals with autism may have distinct social, communication, and behavioral characteristics, such as difficulties in understanding social cues, engaging in repetitive behaviors, or having intense interests in specific topics. These differences can make them stand out to peers who do not understand these behaviors, leading to exclusion, teasing, or more aggressive forms of bullying. The communication challenges faced by many with autism can also make it difficult for them to report bullying or seek help, allowing such behaviors to continue unchecked.

Exploitation is another significant risk for individuals with autism, primarily because of difficulties in understanding complex social interactions and intentions. Their challenges with social cues and norms can make it hard to distinguish between genuine intentions and manipulative behaviors. This can leave individuals with autism more susceptible to being taken advantage of in various contexts, including financial scams, abusive relationships, and other forms of exploitation. The desire for social connection and acceptance, combined with difficulties in recognising deceitful or ulterior motives, can lead individuals with autism into situations where they are exploited by those they believe to be friends or caregivers.

Additionally, the natural inclination of individuals with autism to adhere to routines and struggle with unexpected changes can be exploited by those who wish to manipulate them. People with malicious intent may take advantage of these tendencies to establish control or coerce individuals with autism into unwanted or harmful situations.

Furthermore, societal stigma and the isolation that can accompany autism contribute to their vulnerability. Individuals with autism might not have a wide social network or the same opportunities to learn about social safety through interactions as their neurotypical peers. This isolation can make it harder for them to seek or receive support when faced with bullying or exploitation.

Educating the wider community about autism, fostering inclusive environments, and providing targeted support to individuals with autism are crucial steps in mitigating these vulnerabilities. By understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by people with autism, society can better protect them from bullying and exploitation, ensuring their safety and well-being.

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